Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Zucchini Bread 2 Ways

Patch recently made a request for zucchini bread, and some neighbors who own Amadio Ranch had offered a free HUGE zucchini to each of our garden club members, so I decided to ride "Sunny" my electric power assist recumbent trike over there. I mentioned this a couple posts ago and a picture of the delicious organic apricots I purchased while there. We will be returning to the ranch tomorrow for eggs, blueberries, apricots if we're lucky and hopefully some MORE Zucchini, because we so enjoyed the last one.

I have been rather ill so this post is actually a bit late, but hopefully you all will enjoy the recipe anyway. Our friend Jen aka LoveJen came over (we know many people named Jennifer so most have nick names) has been our friend and extended family member for some time now. She once lived in our spare room for a much too brief time, and if we could pick anyone to start a sustainable living community with, it would be her. So we are always happy when she visits. And usually Jen and I make use of our visits to bake, because we are both lovers of baked goods who have foods we try to avoid. Jen knew about the zucchini which we did not want to spoil, and came prepared to bake bread. I however was just starting to get over the flu, so spent most of the time laying on the lazy boy chair in the video game space next to the kitchen.

We made two loaves of bread based on a Vegan Zucchini Bread recipe, and added dark chocolate chips to one, making it eggless, but not vegan. None of us are vegan, but I mention this here for my vegan friends, please feel free to add your own favorite dark chocolate replacement. These breads are also lower in sugar, and higher in fiber. And if you like black walnuts, would be delicious with some of those in there as well.  I have some specific food issues. I avoid sugar so reduced that and have allergies: egg and vanilla, so replaced those. I like it better and it didn't make me sick, so best of both worlds! But if I hadn't mentioned it you would not know this bread is eggless, or that the sugar is reduced. Give it a try and let me know what you think, Patch loved it so much we're going to have to make more. If you like dark chocolate, (Jen insists it is health food)  then you will LOVE this bread so you may want to freeze a loaf to make it harder to over indulge.

The yum-ness which resulted from Jen's efforts are worthy of food porn, but due to my feeling sick, I did not get out the good camera and have only a cell phone photo to offer. I actually forgot to take a photo of the Dark Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread till the next day, when it was almost gone since we sent 1/2 home with Jen in gratitude for her efforts, and ate most of the rest that night, because it's that good. So here's the lone picture of the Dark Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. I had this for breakfast with some red jiggly gelatin dessert from Fresh and Easy.

Here is the recipe, which includes the walnuts and chocolate chips. If you wish, you can add steel cut oats and you can use use raisins (or a vegan chocolate subsitute) instead of dark chocolate chips for a slightly sweeter and vegan recipe. As is, this recipe is vegetarian, not vegan.


  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose white flour
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (can use vanilla which is slightly sweeter and less nutty)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped black walnuts (optional)

  • Directions: 
    Preheat oven to 350
    Mix 3 tablespoons flax  seeds with 6 tablespoons water and set aside (becomes gooey like eggs)
    Grate 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini and set aside
    Mix dry ingredients:
    1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour with 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup steal cut oats, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
    Mix wet ingredients:
    2 tablespoons agave nectar, 1 cup apple sauce, flax seed mixture, and 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    Combine zucchini with wet ingredients, then mix with dry ingredients, pour into 2 bread pans  
    Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick can be removed dry. 
    Let bread cool on cooling rack. 
    Add 1 bag dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped black walnuts if desired. 

    If you lay the bread across the rack so that the bars of the rack lay vertically across the width of the bread, it marks it easily into nicely portioned servings 

    When adding walnuts and dark chocolate chips only do so in one loaf if you want the other one vegan. If doing so, cut the chocolate chips in 1/2, it really is plenty for one loaf.
    When it comes to nuts and chocolate, you really have to eyeball it based on your personal preference, but we added 1/2 a bag choc chips per loaf, and about a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.
    Using dark chocolate chips does cut down on the sweetness compared to semi sweet chocolate chips or 

    This was truly delicious bread the first time we made it. The second time we forgot the almond extract and I must say, it was not at all the same. It was especially delicious with the dark chocolate chips. Thanks for the idea Jen! 

    If you don't tell people, they won't even realize it's vegan. We do not use eggs or vanilla in our recipes because of my allergies, and I find I actually like the almond extract flavor better, and if cooked properly, you don't even notice the lack of eggs. Since I am diabetic and do not want to be on tons of diabetes medication, we cut the sugar down as well. We used the 2 tablespoons of agave and 1 cup of apple sauce to add sweetness. In this case, the flax seed and apple sauce replace the eggs. The 3 also add liquid, but the steel cut oats balance that out. 

    Patch is not a fan of vegan food but loves this so much she requested more, so tomorrow she'll be taking me to Amadio Ranch and we'll see if we can get some more of that delicious zucchini. Although the recipe only used 1/3 of the huge zucchini, we preserved the rest in small chunks which we blanched and froze. I will be using it in baked zucchini and eggplant. So I thought a fresh zucchini was in order since it seems so plentiful this time of year anyway, and the frozen zucchini will last for quite some time.

    Edit on June 7, 2012: Patch loved this so much she wants still more. So we got more zucchini, and are making 4 more loaves. this way we can freeze some. this bread does freeze pretty well in my experience. We are hoping to have some left later in the year when zucchini is out of season, and that way we will not need to shop for zucchini that is carted in from long distances. In the past this bread was divided between 4 adults and went too fast to bother freezing either loaf.  I suspect the bread in the freezer will not last that long because people will probably defrost it before it's time and eat it all up, but we will see.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Honeyville - Adventures in Shopping

    Today Patch and I decided to combine various errands we needed to run, and go on an adventure. We stopped by Honeyville, a store which sells survival gear, freeze dried and dried foods, food storage and cooking supplies, and more. If you've watched the show American Preppers, you have probably seen an ad for them, and they are right down the street from Patch, so we recently checked it out. We have been buying small containers of some of the foods to see how we like them.

    While there today we bought a small radio which can bearged by solar power, hand crank, or can run on AAA batteries. It also can be used to charge a cell phone or other device through a micro USB in it's side. We tried it out, and it's very cool. Patch plans to use it and create a Faraday cage for when she's not using it. Can't be too safe. It was only about 35 dollars, and she will use it quite a bit, so it's well worth the cost, and a great addition to our emergency kits. We have been creating one for each of us in each car just in case of an emergency. Back in CA we had one in each car plus a bag for each of us in the house just in case of a major earth quake. Since I experienced being just blocks from ground zero of the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, we were super careful, but since moving to AZ we stopped being prepared for earthquakes as they are so rare here.  Still, you just never know what could happen, so we decided recently to build new emergency kits and have 3 in each car, one for each of us. Hopefully we will never need them, but if we do, they're there. And part of that is emergency rations, and other easy to store food which is part of why we stopped by Honeyville.

    While there, I met a lady, Chef Tess, who had just given a lesson on baking with the items available in the store, and we had an awesome conversation about solar ovens. She uses hers all the time. Patch and I have been wanting to build a solar dehydrator and possibly a solar oven. After all, why spend money on a new dehydrator (ours died) when the sun is so plentiful here in Laveen, AZ? It only makes sense and as Tess said, it saves money on the utlities you're not using. At first she built her own out of cardboard and tin foil, but after a while she bought a solar oven. I plan to make our dehydrator a bit more long lasting than cardboard, but even so her DIY version lasted her 2 years, so that's a good thing. She says the one she bought there works much more efficiently (understandable) but I think we could build one ourselves for cheaper that is just as good. I will post about how it goes when we try. In the mean time, you can check out her blog at http://cheftessbakeresse.com.

    Another fun thing we found was "Cranberry Beans." And I've been trying to expand the foods I eat, so I grabbed a small bag on sale. I'm putting them to soak tonight and will make some tomorrow. We will see what they're like, but I love beans so I suspect they will be delicious to me. The real test will be if Patch and Carlie like them and I found a recipe for them that sounds delicious, so hopefully they will enjoy them as much as I do. After all, I hear that beans are one of those carbohydrates that are good for Diabetics, plus I'm told they're good for digestion, heart health, and more. Hopefully it will encourage us to have more than just the occasional re-fried beans or black beans from a can and to move towards cooking from dried beans, which I'm told are healthier than canned. We will see.

    Last but not least we got a small can of freeze dried peaches and a can of freeze dried blueberries. It turns out a serving of blueberries is much lower in carb count than the peaches. Not too surprising since the nurse in my diabetes class encourages us to eat berries. They are tasty, which also didn't surprise me, so we'll be buying a couple larger cans in the future to add to our emergency food storage. All in all, a good shopping trip!

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Apricot smoothies

    A local couple has a backyard farm, Amadio Ranch, that is truly enviable. And this week their Apricots are coming into their own. THEY ARE DELICIOUS! And because they are organic and fresh off the tree ripe, they are quick to bruise. So rather than trying to eat them all plain, I thought it would be fun to try some of the most ripe in a smoothie. It was so good, I played around with the recipe until I came up with this:

    6 very ripe apricots (pits removed)
    1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
    1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
    1/2 teaspoon orange marmalade
    Ice Cubes

    Blend and enjoy! Smoothies are super simple, and this one is high in protein and not TOO high in sugar/carbs despite it's sweet and slightly-tangy goodness. According to sparkpeople.com it has 30 carbs, 2 fat, 13 protein and 5 of that is fiber. I'm thinking of making them into a compote to have on pork or chicken next.

    How do you like your Apricots?

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Super Easy Kale Chips

    I have always thought Kale chips sounded interesting and a fun way to get kale (which is not my favorite veggie) into my diet. Kale has multiple reasons to eat it. High fiber content (a dark leafy green) and vitamins that my body craves. Here are some interesting nutritional facts about raw Kale:

    Personally, Kale always makes me think of working in a noisy, smelly, disgusting kids restaurant as a teen. We stuffed it between bowls at the salad bar, and would be required to pull the dirty leaves and replace them with clean ones if and when something from a bowl spilled. I did mention it was a restaurant that catered to kids right? There were many spills. It was a disgusting job, but someone had to do it. And for this reason alone, I never wanted to eat Kale.

    Now that I'm an adult dealing with diabetes and multiple allergies, it seems to make sense to try vegetables which I am NOT allergic to, and which are good for me. So when we saw Kale on sale at the store the other day, I grabbed it up and announced we would be making "Kale chips" which sounded good to Patch, and she promised to make a delicious Kale salad which she learned from Roger, her friend at work who is a wonderful chef. So far, no salad has materialized, but my friend Jenn came over and we braved the chip making process.

    Guess what?!?! It is not disgusting or difficult. In fact, it was so easy, I made more TONIGHT! I just couldn't even wait till someone was around to enjoy them with me and made a single serving size from a single Kale leaf. Below is the super easy recipe I used tonight, which makes one bowl of Kale chips. I ate them with almonds to add some healthy fat and protein. I recommend only making enough for one serving so that they are perfectly crisp and delicious. If you want more the next night, they are so easy to whip up that you can do it again like I did. Easy peasy!  Now ON to the recipe.

    Super Easy Kale Chip Ingredients:
    1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
    1 Kale leaf per person
    1 teaspoon seasoned salt

    Super Easy Kale Chip Instructions:
    Preheat oven to 350
    Tear popcorn sized pieces off the spine of the Kale Leaf/s
    Wash the Kale and DRY WELL (it helps them be crispy for the chip like consistency)
    Cover non insulated baking tray (cookie sheet) with parchment paper
    Toss Kale in EVOO
    Sprinkle with seasoned salt and mix
    Cook at 350 for 8 minutes, then turn over and cook for 2-4 more minutes or until edges are brown

    HINT: Make sure to take out of the oven when edges are brown and do not cook too long or I was told they will become bitter. I found if torn into popcorn sized bits they cooked up perfectly in about 10 minutes, turned once in the middle

    At the turning point you can sprinkle on some Parmesan Cheese if you wish, but it's not necessary. We turned them with wooden tongs, which turned out to be perfect, but you could also simply flip them with your fingers if you're more daring (EVOO on the leaves will be hot)

    Super Cheesy Kale Chips:
    1 tablespoon EVOO (or 1/2 a tablespoon per leaf)
    1 Kale Leaf per person
    1 teaspoon dried garlic
    1 teaspoon of basil
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1 tablespoon of Parmesan Cheese per leaf (or Vegan Parm if you are one of my Vegan friends)

    Follow the instructions above!

    You can change these recipes to your preference. You only need enough EVOO to coat the leaves and you don't want them to be overly coated, so I would recommend about 1/2 a tablespoon per leaf.

    I used sea salt seasoned with garlic and rosemary and forgot to cut the amount down since I cut the recipe in half. Actually, I didn't measure just shaked it over the leaves, turned them and shook again. OOPS one shake too much They are VERY salty and I tend to avoid salt. But they are still delicious!

    Sunday, May 13, 2012

    A Veggie Meal Adventure with Milo

    My best bud and "bro" came over today. We haven't hung out in a LONG time. We both didn't really realize how long until we started talking about our lives and realized there were things we didn't know had happened. Really major things.

    But one thing hasn't changed. I still love cooking and being creative in the kitchen with my bro. It's always interesting, because we both have very different food issues.  You can check out his awesome blog , Vegan Meal Adventures at  http://keepingvegan.wordpress.com

    Today's Veggie Meal Adventure Recipe:

    Garden Veggie Adventure:
    4 small white eggplants roughly chopped about 1/2 inch cubes
    1/2 white onion chopped
    1 small banana pepper minced
    1 clove garlic minced
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
    1 teaspoon basil
    1 dash of salt
    1 dash of pepper

    Mix all together, and bake at 425 for 15 minutes (If I could change anything about this I might add another pepper those are delicious! And another clove of garlic plus a can of tomatoe sauce could be a fun way to cook this up as well.

    Quinoa Porridge:
    1/2 cup quinoa
    4 tablespoons flax seeds
    1.5 cups water
    boil then bring down to a medium low heat and cook while chopping and cooking vegetables (approximately 25 minutes until it reaches the porridge consistency you prefer

    We spooned 1/2 on a plate for each of us, and about a ladeled the vegetable mixture on top. It was delicious and it is also great over polenta porridge or fried polenta coated in parmesan (or vegan parm) with almonds for a bit of added crunch.

    It can be a completely vegan meal if you don't use cheese or substitute your own vegan cheeses

    Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Cajun Orange Pork Chops

    I really love this Diabetes Family Friendly Cookbook magazine we picked up. The best recipe we had yet was the Cajun Orange Pork Chops. I can't wait to have it with some salad tomorrow as left overs. It was so good, I'd like to share the recipe with you, and you can find it here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Cajun-Orange-Pork-Chops thanks Patricia Harmon from Baden, Pennsylvania. So if you want to check out the magazine I think they're for sale online at tasteofhome.com and some of the recipes are there as well.

    I was worried about trying this one because I'm not big on spices usually, but I've been trying out new recipes. Turns out, the Cajun Orange Pork Chops weren't that hot after all. Just a nice spice to go with the intense orange flavor. DEEEELICIOUS! The orange juice, marmalade and seasonings made a really great marinade. Who knew!?

    It's really worth trying new things. Food can be delicious AND healthy. And the left overs are so much more awesome when it's home made.

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Smoothies not dead?

    When I was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this week I thought smoothies were a bygone pleasure. And since spring is very short here and summer is starting in Laveen, I was looking forward to some creative smoothies. Then I noticed that my sparkpeople.com menu was recommending an orange smoothie. I altered it a bit, but it's pretty yummy. A bit tart, a bit sweet. I think the amount of sweet depends greatly on the sweetness of the fruit you use.

    Here's the recipe they recommended:
    1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt
    6 oz orange juice
    2 tablespoons 1/2 and 1/2

    Here's the recipe I used:
    1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (not vanilla, i'm allergic to that plus it usually means more sugar in the yogurt)
    1/2 cup orange juice (another thing I thought I couldn't have now)
    3 tablespoons almond milk (plain, unsweetened)
    5 medium strawberries (these would give a great texture and more sweetness if frozen, but I believe that also might alter it's healthfulness so didn't use frozen ones)

    Let me know what you come up with. Smoothies are very personal and unique. I used to LOVE strawberry banana smoothies, sometimes with a bit of peanut butter. But when I found out bananas were one of the foods causing my hives I quit eating those immediately. I still miss the flavor, but there are plenty of other smoothie flavors to be enjoyed, so I look forward to trying some of them out this summer.

    Peppers are delicious

    This week seems to be focused on peppers. Our Jalepeno plant finally flowered and started growing some Jalepenos! And the same day, I bought 6 banana pepper starter plants and transplanted them to the raised bed on the southwest side of our yard and fertilized them all with fish emulsion.

    The next day, I found the fish smell was apparently too tempting for our dogs. I assumed it to have been the little chihuahua, but apparently it was the terrier mix, Pepper. Carlie had seen her doing it, but had just thought she was eating one of the cherry tomatoes and hadn't checked. Carlie is not really a tomato fan, so I guess it wasn't as distressing to her as it would have been to myself who has been caring for the plants, or Patch who LOVES tomatoes. However it was not a tomato she was eating, it was a pepper plant she was knocking over.

    Glad I found it soon enough to rescue it! Now it's planted with the banana Peppers and they seem to be perking up for the most part. One lost all it's leaves, but the others seem to be doing OK. What a relief!

    Finally, I planted some bell peppers and some Chinese hot peppers that have a bit of a bell shape with hot flesh and seeds, but also have sweet wings on the sides. Those should be interesting to try. I'm not much for hot peppers, but Patch and Carlie are, so I thought it would be fun to plant some. Besides the planting calendars all say it's a good time for peppers in our area, so hopefully we'll get some good results!

    Recently I discovered a delicious way to use bell peppers. I sliced them into 4 scoop like portions, filled them with a mix of herbs and small lettuce leafs like arugula, and sprinkled them with almonds. YUM! And today I added heirloom tomatoes (the multi color kind) and smoked gouda, and put it all on a piece of sourdough. WOW! The flavors are amazing. It's a pepper kind of week!

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Meal and Exercise Plan

    Since I last posted to this blog, I have been officially diagnosed with diabetes. On the up side, I think they caught it soon enough to be treatable without insulin. I'll find that out on the 16th when I see my new Endocrinologist. On the down side, the medicine makes me feel really sick. I have more energy as my blood glucose numbers go down and as i have committed 100% to eating healthy, but I feel super nauseous to say the least. Still, I do see the blood glucose numbers seem to be going down and over time hopefully they will continue to do so. In order to do the most I can to help that happen, I'm going to be taking all prescribed medicine and seeing all my doctors, working out including riding my trike everywhere I can, planning meals ahead, eating/cooking healthy 100% of the time, and taking my blood glucose 3 to 5 times a day.

    This morning I sat down and scheduled exercise time. Patch has been wanting to get out to the gym for a while now, but hasn't been going by herself and I hadn't been healed up enough. Now that I'm healed up enough it just seems to keep being one of us saying we should go to the gym but then letting something else get in the way. So I asked her to sit down with me every week when she gets her schedule and plan gym dates. Today we did that for the first time and it totally stressed her out for some reason. But we did plan basically every other day (except Mondays) to be gym days, and the days in between (except mondays) I'll ride my trike or go for a walk and hopefully a friend will walk with me on occasion.

    In an effort to keep track of what i'm eating, my blood glucose levels and exercise, I resumed use of sparkpeople.com and bought a diabetic friendly cooking magazine that has some delicious sounding recipes. Last night we had chicken fajitas, and tonight we're going to have spicy turkey tacos.  I'm going to look through the freezer and see what types of fish we have for tomorrow night's menu. I'll keep updating this blog with our menu and any recipes I can.