Friday, June 29, 2012

Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

Here's my recipe for the super low sugar zucchini muffins that I talked about last post. These can be made into muffins like I did or even in a loaf pan for a larger loaf. Usually I opt for the muffin version because of several reasons. One being that they bake much faster which means the oven in on for a shorter amount of time in my house! Two being that they are easier to give away if they are in muffin form.

Inspired by this recipe from EatingWell.

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 5 drops stevia liquid 
  • 1/3 grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 1 cup regular and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (this would be yummy with chocolate chips also)

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin cups. This made approximately 18 muffins for me.
  2. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, stevia, oil and vanilla together. Stir in zucchini. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add liquid ingredients. Stir just until combined and then add blueberries. 
  4. Transfer to muffin cups. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. 
  5. Remove from pan and let cool. Enjoy with a good pat of grass-fed raw butter. So good!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Squash Season

Tis the season for summer squash overload! I have been eating it numerous times a day, everyday, for the past several weeks. I usually eat it whole-heartily for a while until the squash bugs take over and kill my plants. Usually by then I'm ready for them to die. Although there are numerous recipe collections using squash online I usually don't even get to trying them. I thought I might share the methods of my squash eating as I have answered numerous requests lately for what to do with squash.

  • Simply slice or dice, saute in a bit of butter, add desired seasonings and call it magic! This is probably my most frequent eating method. I like a little cumin, paprika, salt and pepper added. Sometimes I get crazy and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top for a cheesy nutty flavor. I eat this with my eggs almost everyday.
  • Shred it, mix it with some more random spices, cheese, thickener of some kind like bread crumbs or cornmeal or specifically green pea flour and hemp seeds and make it a pancake. Once you have a thick mixture, slap it into a skillet and brown on both sides for a zucchini fritter type delicacy. Here's a picture of my creation last night!

  • Pickle the suckers just like they were cucumbers! They certainly don't turn out as crunchy and crisp as pickling cucumbers would but they still are tasty pickled creations.
  • Make a tasty fritatta like I did today for the kiddos at the Summer Feeding Program. I shredded the zucchini and potatoes and sauteed with onion. Then poured a bunch of farm fresh eggs on top, added some cheese and let cook into a delightful healthy veggie filled fritatta. The kids loved it too!
  •  Of course most people know that zucchini lends itself pretty excellently in a quick bread or cake. Tonight I made my first batch of zucchini muffins and I'm pretty proud because these do not involve a pound of sugar and they are quite tasty. Find the recipe here.

On another squash note, I have started harvesting my first acorn squash. I have honestly never grown a successful crop of winter squash variety because my plants always get devoured by squash bugs before they produce anything. Praise the Lord, these acorn squash grew out of my compost that I had buried in the garden and they were a complete surprise when I found the wonderful squash ready for picking!

Got any other brilliant ideas for using the abundance of summer squash? Please leave a comment and let me know how you prefer to eat these tasty treats!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Victory of Chard

Today I spent my early morning in the garden. We were blessed to have another great rainfall last night so I didn't have to worry about watering my garden. Praise the Lord for rain! Lately, I have been running to keep up with the abundant zucchini production that has been going on in my gardens. I've already pawned off large bags full of squash at my local senior center, traded some at a garage sale, and forced my office professionals to take some home. I've also successfully canned 14 pints of pickled zucchini with my mother at home. Generally, I eat about one small zucchini a day and I still can't keep up with them. But I'm super thankful for the harvest. This morning in addition to my zucchini harvest I had my first harvest of my beautiful purple beans. They are just gorgeous.

As I was leaving the house I decided to harvest a bunch of chard for a possible food sample with kids today. I have decided that I want to focus on introducing the local children that take part in the summer feeding program to real fresh vegetables by doing some fresh veggie tastings. I took a big risk and made the green  power smoothies that I posted about earlier involving rainbow chard. I thought that at least I could dare the kids to try the green smoothies. Most kids enjoy a little challenge. I also attempted to make chard chips. These would be baked chard leaves with a light rub of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. They turned out to be more delicate than usable to I proceeded to crush the crunchy chips up and sprinkle on popcorn like a little green seasoning. Another funky food treat for the kids. And they loved it! I would say it was a double victory because not only did they actually try to bright green smoothie but most of them really liked it. It had enough fruit in it that you really couldn't taste the chard anyway.

I would have to say the best part of my lunchtime experience involved my new favorite child, Andrew. He was about five years old and wore red cowboy boots on the wrong feet. He had jean shorts on and a red plaid shirt. Andrew also had red hair and freckles and he decided to try my chard popcorn. After bluntly telling me that he didn't like it, he was amused with the giant leaves that I had sitting on my table. I had been telling kids they could take a plain chard leaf if they wanted and encouraged the kids to play with the vegetable. He grabbed one of the leaves and walked back to his table and I figured my time with him was over. Little did I know, several moments later he comes back and his sister's are now exclaiming, "He ate the whole leaf. He needs another!" Amazing. Andrew was definitely the highlight of my day as he walked around literally gnawing on a fresh chard leaf, still wet from the overnight rain. My only regret was not being prepared with a camera to record the moment.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Green Power Smoothie

My mother wasn't too excited when I suggested making a swiss chard smoothie. However, after I combined the greatness of beautiful rainbow chard with copious amounts of sweet fruit the flavor was most delightful. Don't be alarmed by the bright green color of this business but certainly try one for yourself!

Into the blender goes:
1 bunch of rainbow chard, stems leaves only (remove the stems)
2 frozen bananas
1/2 - 1 cup Orange Juice or pineapple juice
1/2 - 1 cup peaches (we are still using up peaches from canning 2 years ago)
Heaping spoonful of flax
Handful of ice

I dare you to try it! Try a different fruit if you like.
Tell me how it goes for you. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garden to Table

Quality simple food tastes so great. This past week I harvested a bunch of peas from my garden and quickly realized that shelling peas is time consuming! That is a new harvest for me but the tasty little peas were so sweet and delightful. I enjoyed them fresh as well as sauteed in a bit of rendered pastured chicken fat with salt and pepper. So great. I also added some swiss chard to the saute and then put my boiled fresh beets in the mix. Simple ingredients combined for a fabulous dinner.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Triple Dip

In my previous life where I ate whatever I wanted to and didn't really care about the way it affected my body I used to love The Triple Dip. This was a creation in college that my best friends and I used to enjoy pretty frequently while dining out with college student coupons. We would order a free appetizer of cheese dip and with it would order for salsa and ranch dressing. This became our triple dip: tortilla chip dipped into super greasy cheese sauce, salsa, and ranch dressing. I think I could have made an entire meal out of it and probably did back in those days. Although I loved my college life, the food that I put into my body was far from nourishing or beneficial. However, thankfully right after college I was introduced to the world of nutrition when I pursued my year of service as an AmeriCorps member and actually taught nutrition. 

Recently I recreated the triple dip in my very own kitchen and think that it blows the old triple dip out of the water. First of all, I've discovered these amazing sprouted tortilla chips, Simply Sprouted, at several health food stores. I've tried the black bean and the blue corn and they are both great. Next comes the homemade hummus that I had created.

Very estimated hummus measurements:
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup soaked and drained raw almonds
Fresh garlic, I think 2 cloves
1/4 cup tahini
Lemon juice, 1 T
Olive Oil, 2 T 
1/2 t. Salt
1 t. cumin
Water to thin

When I wasn't quite satisfied with just the chips and hummus I decided to add some color and zing with the pesto that I've had in my freezer/fridge since last summer. I make my pesto with roasted almonds, basil, garlic, and olive oil. Pretty basic.

Then to top it all off a nice piece of cheese goes on top. I used the last laughing cow cheese wedge that I had in my fridge. It was pretty devine if I say so myself!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Refreshing Purple Basil Limeade

It's not even summer yet it has felt like summer for quite some time. Maybe it's the fact that wheat harvest here in Kansas started in May?! Or perhaps it's the fact that in the past two weeks I've picked blueberries, cherries, plums and peaches! Or maybe it's just the fact that it's been hot! Nonetheless, I was inspired to try a refreshing summer beverage by the very plant tag of the purple basil that I recently planted. 

The purple basil lemonade recipe instructs one to use a mortar and pestle to create a paste with the purple basil and sugar. I decided to make a tea out of purple basil and lemon thyme by pouring boiling water over my harvested leaves. The water was nice and purple! 

I then drained out the solids and to the purple basil water I added honey and fresh squeezed lime juice. This was then diluted with cold water and poured over ice for a very refreshing treat. The proportions here can be made to taste. I decided that I wanted more of a basil flavor so I ended up pureeing some of the basil tea and straining that liquid to add. 

My approximate measurements:
1/2 cup purple basil leaves
1/4 cup lemon thyme leaves
4 cups water
4 juicy limes, juiced
2 Tablespoons raw honey