Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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Yes, another zucchini recipe.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables.  You can do anything with it!  With that being said, this my absolute favorite Zucchini Bread recipe ever!  It’s chocolaty, moist, loaded with zucchini and it’s already healthy!  First and fore most, this recipe is not mine.  I came across it on one of my favorite blog’s, Sally Baking Addiction.  I only make one small change.  I add a teaspoon of cinnamon to mine (two teaspoons if I am doubling the recipe).

Why?  Because I think dark chocolate (i always use dark chocolate when I can) and cinnamon are a great paired together and I like the warmth and smell it gives it.

Do you have to add the cinnamon?  Absolutely not.  It tastes amazing just as the recipe is written, I just like to add it to mine.  I always have to make a double batch because the boys love it as well.  It goes very quickly in our house and that’s okay because there’s no butter, very little oil and sugar and it has added protein with the Greek Yogurt.  Now, it should go without saying but I will say it anyway, “it’s healthy as long as you don’t sit and devour the whole loaf.”

A couple of things to remember when making this bread.

First: don’t wear white pants!  The chocolate seemed to be everywhere!   One of the first rules of baking BUT it was completely worth it.  And as Captain Barbosa says in Pirates of the Carribbean, “They’re more guidelines than rules.” Oops, it was a spur of the moment thing to make these and didn’t think about changing.  Awe, well, that’s what bleach is for!

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Second:  Make sure you get some of the moisture out of the zucchini.  There is nothing worse then soggy bread and zucchini carries quite a bit of moisture.  You can do this numerous way.  I use a thin dish rag and ring it out a bit.  You can use paper towels and blot the zucchini or you can place the shredded zucchini in a colander and let it drain for a few minutes.  Either way, you don’t want all the moisture gone, just the excess.

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That’s it!  Go make this lovely bread!  You and your diet won’t regret it!

Recipe:  Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread!

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Gnocchi with Cannellini Beans & Spinach

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This is one of my favorite recipes to make.  It’s warm, inviting and smells delicious!  Especially when made in the summer time when your garden is full of these:

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From my backyard to my skillet.  Can’t get much better than that!  This is a one skillet dinner, that combines diced tomatoes, cannellini beans (white beans), spinach and fresh mozzarella cheese melted over the top!

Start with a large skillet that has a cover.  Add olive oil to a the skillet that has been heating over medium heat.  When the olive oil is heated through add the gnocchi and saute till it is a nice golden color and the gnocchi has plumped up.  I usually use Whole Wheat gnocchi but the store was out that day and I didn’t want to stop at the Italian Specialty store.  Regular or whole wheat is fine.

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Remove the gnocchi from the skillet and add the diced onion.  Let the onion cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and water and cover the skillet to let it all cook till the onion is soft.  Add in the spinach and stir till it starts to wilt, then add in chopped tomatoes, beans, pepper and Italian seasoning and bring to a simmer.

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Add the gnocchi back into the skillet and stir.  Sprinkle the fresh mozzarella over the top, cover and let the mixture cook till the cheese has melted and the mixture is bubbly!  Serve with a nice salad and dinner is done!  Quick, easy and hardly any clean up!  My kind of dinner!

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Yield: 6 Servings

Gnocchi with Cannellini Beans & Spinach

10 minPrep Time:

20 minCook Time:

30 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 16-ounce package shelf-stable whole wheat gnocchi
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped baby spinach or baby kale
  • 2 cups roma tomatoes seeded and chopped OR 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • 1 1/2 cups cannellini beans soaked per package instructions OR 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed well
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer gnocchi to a bowl.
  4. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes.
  6. Add spinach or kale and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in tomatoes, beans, It. seasoning and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  8. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  9. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

Notes

Gnocchi can be found in the pasta aisle.

Approx. Per serving: 320 calories; 7 g fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrates; 14 g protein; 6 g fiber; 616 mg sodium; 360 mg potassium.

2 Yellow (Carbs), 1 Green (vegetable), 1 tsp (fat), 1/2 Blue (cheese)

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Healthy Mac & Cheese

So I wasn’t going to post this recipe till next week but when I posted it as a sneak peek for what’s to come, I got an overwhelming number of, “we must have this recipe now,” from my accountability groups and personal Facebook friends.  Okay!  Ask and ye shall receive I guess!  Without further ado, I present Healthy Mac & Cheese!!

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Mac & Cheese appears to be a comfort food for A LOT of people.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it too!  Especially Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese.  When its baked and the edges get all crusty and crunchy, (drool) it’s extremely hard to resist.  BUT…let’s be honest.  Even if the majority of us could eat it everyday, our bodies would hate us.  I don’t even want to think about the number of burpees we would have to do to burn a serving off.  I don’t mind burpees but there is a limit to my tolerance for them.  I am most sure that tolerance would be tested and I would fail miserably.  Best to stick with the burpee friendly version of Mac & Cheese.

While it still has some cheese in it, (how can it be called Mac & Cheese if it didn’t?!?) the main ingredient is none other than; BUTTERNUT SQUASH! Gone is the loads of butter, flour and whole milk or cream.  On the 21 Day Fix, butternut squash is a vegetable.  While it is one of starchier (yes, I know, not a word) vegetables, it is still a vegetable.  A vegetable that when blended leaves you with a thick but smooth, creamy texture.  Combine that with sweet caramelized onions, zesty garlic and sharp cheddar and you get a robust, healthy comfort food that will leave your mac & cheese craving sated and your thighs and abs relieved!  You’ll thank me later!

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Yield: 4 Servings

Healthy Mac & Cheese

10 minPrep Time:

30 minCook Time:

40 minTotal Time:

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups whole grain elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small butternut squash (4-5 cups cubed)
  • 5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth if vegetarian
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond but whatever you have is fine)
  • 1 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
  • parsley for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive in a skillet over low heat. When heated through, add onions and let caramelize* for about 30 minutes.
  2. Cook macaroni according to directions making sure to salt the water.
  3. Meanwhile, remove the skin and the seeds from the squash.
  4. Cut the flesh into small cubes.
  5. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and add the squash, cooking for 5 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup broth, and transfer squash to the blender.
  6. Add the minced garlic to the onions and cook for 1 more minute.
  7. Add the onions and garlic, milk, cream cheese, salt, and reserved broth to the blender with the squash and puree until smooth and creamy. (yields about 4 cups of sauce)
  8. Pour the sauce over the noodles and add the shredded cheese, stirring to melt.
  9. Add water or milk to adjust consistency as needed.
  10. Serve with parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.

Notes

*Caramelize means to cook something low and slowly until it becomes brown and sweet

If you are not a cheddar person, feel free to use whichever kind of cheese you prefer.

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http://thepotterspantry.com/2015/08/healthy-mac-cheese/

 

Whole Grain Pasta with Organic Chicken Sausage, Peppers & Mushrooms

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Sometimes you just need some good ole’ comfort food in the the form of a hearty whole pasta with my garden peppers, button mushrooms and organic chicken sausage!  Am I right?  And you can’t go wrong with lovely Parmesan Cheese sprinkled over the top!

Now when it comes to chicken sausage, or any sausage for that matter, I am extremely picky.  There are certain brands that I avoid all together and not all brands are the same so my suggestion is you pick the brand that you and your family prefer.  It took me a few tries with various other chicken sausage to come across a brand that we all love.  Some were to spicy, others to sweet, some not much flavor at all and some just plain gross.  This brand seems to be a nice combination of all good things.  I am lucky that I live in the land of  Italians here in NY so we have a lot of Italian specialty stores where this is sold not already pre-packaged.  Again, choose the one you and your family will eat best!

sausage

If you don’t have a garden of your own, I highly recommend finding a farmers market to pick up local veggies and fruits.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Wegman’s but they wouldn’t notice if I stopped shopping there.  I figure if I give to the local farmers I am helping them keep their farms going and I know exactly where my stuff is coming from.  Plus, I find so many more things at farmer’s markets!  That can be good and bad 😉

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Feel free to substitute regular Italian sausage.  It just won’t be as healthy.  You can also add spinach or kale or even crushed red pepper flakes for some extra heat!  The options are endless!

Enjoy!

Yield: 6 Servings

Whole Grain Pasta with Organic Chicken Sausage, Peppers & Mushrooms

10 minPrep Time:

20 minCook Time:

30 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz whole grain pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 6 oz button mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb Italian chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. Reserve 1 cup water before draining.
  2. While pasta water boils, heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat.
  3. Add olive oil; when hot add onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add sausage cook until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Add cooked pasta, reserved water and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Toss well and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  8. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired.
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Maple Dijon Chicken


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While on vacation these past couple of weeks, we ate at a café called Cheddar’s.  Has anyone ever eaten at one?  Everything we ordered was very good.  Especially mine.  I got Dijon Chicken and Mushroom that came with to sides of grilled vegetables.  It was incredible! The chicken was so moist and juicy and the sauce over it was to die for!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I knew when I got home I would be recreating it.   And I did.  For the most part.  Of course I had to change a few things to make it Potters’ Pantry worthy.  🙂  The Cheddar’s version said they used a honey Dijon sauce.  Since I was saving my last little bit of pure honey for my energy bites, I decided to go with 100% pure maple syrup instead.  Still sweet to counteract the Dijon.  And because I add garlic to pretty much everything I make (hey, vampires will leave me alone) I, of course, had to throw some of that in there too!

I started by heating some EVOO in a small pan and adding the minced garlic and cooking for a few minutes until it was tender and fragrant.  I then took it off the heat and added the mustard and maple syrup.  I thought about adding some red pepper flakes but if I had done that, the boys wouldn’t have eaten it (you are more than welcome too though).  Instead I added some fresh parsley from my plant.  I placed the chicken in my handy dandy Le Creuset baking dish and seasoned them with some Mrs. Dash herb seasoning (trying to avoid salt).  Then all I did was pour the sauce over the top of the chicken and placed it in the oven to bake!

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How easy is that??  And it was so good!  It definitely good have benefited with some sauteed mushrooms over the sauce but was still delicious without it!  Even the boys devoured theirs!  Win Win in my book!

Enjoy!

 

Serving Size: 1 Chicken Breast

Maple Dijon Chicken

5 minPrep Time:

30 minCook Time:

35 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • herb seasoning mix or salt to season chicken

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450° and coat a large baking dish with cooking spray
  2. In small pan, heat the olive oil over low heat
  3. Add the minced garlic and stir, cooking until tender and fragrant
  4. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and mustard
  5. Add in red pepper flakes if using
  6. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and sprinkle with seasoning mix or salt
  7. Pour the mustard sauce over the top of the chicken
  8. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until internal temp is 175*
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http://thepotterspantry.com/2015/08/maple-dijon-chicken/

 

Portobello Pesto Pizzas

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So, I love pizza. LOVE IT. Especially NY style. This is a new found love for me.  I HATED pizza as a kid.  I know, I know…insert every single comment regarding that, I have ever received {here}.  But pizza is not so great for you. Especially when your kids want you to make/order it pretty much every single day. FORTUNATELY, portobello mushrooms make pretty delicious substitutes for crust. Which means you can make mushroom pizza and load it up with cheese guilt-free…right?

So, are you having a carving for pizza but don’t want all the carbs?  Then you have to try these Pesto Portobello Pizzas!  Fresh homemade basil pesto, garden ripe tomatoes with garlic and mozzarella all over a savory grilled portobello mushroom.  OMG!!  These grilled portobellos make for the perfect summer outdoor meal. It stands alone as vegetarian meal if you serve it with fresh fruit or a garden salad!

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Serving Size: 1 Mushroom Cap

Portobello Pesto Pizzas

10 minPrep Time:

15 minCook Time:

25 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • For the basil pesto:
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 small avocado
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the portobello pesto pizza:
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill on high.
  2. In a food processor, combine pine nuts, basil, garlic and avocado.
  3. Pulse until ingredients are broken up.
  4. Drizzle in the olive oil, while keeping the food processor on, until you get a sauce-like consistency.
  5. In a small bowl, combine diced tomatoes, garlic and 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. Set aside.
  6. Remove stems from portobellos.
  7. Brush the mushrooms with the remaining olive oil on both sides.
  8. Place the mushrooms cap side down on the grill.
  9. Grill till the mushrooms are softened, turning once (approx 5 minutes on each side).
  10. Remove the mushrooms from the grill and place on a baking sheet.
  11. Spoon approximately 1/4 cup of basil pesto onto each mushroom.
  12. Top with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with the cheese.
  13. Broil the mushrooms until the cheese has melted. Watch carefully!
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http://thepotterspantry.com/2015/08/portobello-pesto-pizzas/

 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

 

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Slow cooker chicken fajitas!  Can you say, “Yum?” Their bright colors and sizzling aroma attracts lots of attention at restaurants.  Fajitas are one of the things that I order most when ever we go out for Mexican food.  It is one of those thing that I never make at home though I’m not sure why.  I guess I consider it a luxury item reserved for the special occasion of going out.  Either that or I just don’t feel like marinating everything and standing at the stove sauteing it all.  Either way, that is no longer the case.  This recipe is so easy and has so much flavor, that I will be making them quite often!  And the best part is… it cooks all day while you do other things!

The boys ate theirs with corn tortillas that I placed in the oven to make the shells hard (they don’t care for soft corn tortillas).  I opted to make mine a salad over kale with olives and avocado and some white cheddar cheese.  Both yummy choices!  Enjoy!

 

crockpeppers

crockchicken

fajitas

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas
Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (16 oz) jar of salsa
  • 1 red, orange and green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Optional: Corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, olives, avocado, sour cream and salsa

Instructions

  1. Pour half of the salsa into the bottom of a slow cooker and spread into an even layer.
  2. Top with half of the peppers and half of the onions. Sprinkle garlic over the peppers and onions.
  3. Top with chicken breasts.
  4. Evenly sprinkle half of the taco seasoning over chicken breasts then flip chicken and sprinkle in remainder.
  5. Top with remaining salsa, peppers and onions.
  6. Cover and cook on HIGH heat 3 - 4 hours or low heat 6 - 8 hours.
  7. Remove chicken and cut into strips or shred.
  8. Ladle out 1 cup of the broth in slow cooker and discard.
  9. In a small bowl whisk together lime juice and honey and add to slow cooker along with chicken. Gently toss.
  10. Serve corn tortillas with sour cream and optional guacamole, cheese and salsa.
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http://thepotterspantry.com/2015/08/slow-cooker-chicken-fajitas/

Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

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Today I’m sharing with you my new favorite dinner-in-a-hurry recipe: Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs in Homemade Marinara Sauce. Baked in the oven, and finished off with a homemade marinara sauce.  This recipe is: Quick , Easy , Healthy and sure to please.

I got the original recipe from a close friend of mine.  She got it from her mother in law.  The original recipe called for ground beef but I decided to make mine with lean ground turkey for a healthier alternative.  To add some moisture back into the meatballs, I added grated zucchini.  This is a basic meatball recipe you can easily alter to your taste. Feel free to use chopped spinach or kale if you don’t have zucchini.  For extra spice, chili powder. The possibilities are endless!

You can eat these meatballs on their own, add some crusty bread, place them over a bed of spaghetti, top them with cheese, etc. The ways to enjoy are endless.  I baked mine in advance then added them to my slow cooker on warm with some homemade marinara till we were ready to eat.  Perfect!

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Serving Size: 3 meatballs

Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

10 minPrep Time:

20 minCook Time:

30 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup grated zucchini, drained of excess liquid
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 well beaten eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly with your hands.
  3. Roll into about 20 meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes or until cooked through and not pink in the middle.

Notes

To drain the zucchini, measure it first, then transfer it to a piece of cheesecloth or a clean and lint free dishtowel. You’ll want to let the zucchini rest a few minutes so it can begin releasing liquid then squeeze as much of the liquid out of the shredded zucchini as possible.

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http://thepotterspantry.com/2015/08/baked-turkey-zucchini-meatballs/