Saturday, May 14, 2016

#almostpaleo: 3 Easy and Fast Ways to Add More Veggies to Your Diet

Three Cheers for the Mighty Vegetable!

Since implementing The Daniel Plan, and sticking to their allotment of veggies as half of the dinner plate, we are eating three times as many vegetables then we used to.  And a much larger variety.  

A quick dinner meal for us is often grilled chicken breasts and 2-3 different veggies.

Although there is more cooking, it doesn't take really much more time to add multiple veggies to a meal. Here are three fast and easy ways for adding vegetables into your meal to meet this requirement:

1.  Stir Fry

I have become much more creative with our stir-fry.  Normally I start with sesame oil and a type of onion (red, yellow, green or even something like fennel) and then add what I have on hand in the refrigerator.  I've used mushrooms, carrots (julienned) broccoli (or brocollini) brussel sprouts, snap peas, zucchini, squash, bok choy (or red cabbage) edamame or red pepper.  There are also the cans of baby corn or water chestnuts to keep on hand for stir fry.

We often use brown rice, (hence #almostpaleo), but another "rice" I've tried is Cauliflower Rice.   

My favorite stir fry helper right now is the Calphalon Nonstick All Purpose Pan. It is a hard-anodized 12-inch pan that pretty much stays on my stove top. It works great for stir fry, even though it doesn't have as narrow of a bottom as a wok. It is recommended to be hand washed only, but since I use it nearly every day, I am hand washing it anyway.   

2.  Tomato Sauce

While maybe not as versatile as a stir fry, I have added different things to our standard tomato sauces  to make them more robust and veggie-ful.  I make my own sauce instead of using spaghetti sauce from a can so that I can stay away from added sugars.  

Besides onions and diced tomatoes, other veggies to add in different combinations are mushrooms (canned or fresh), green, yellow or red peppers, spinach, carrots (julienned) zucchini, or celery (diced/sliced very thin), 

If cooking for little ones who don't want chunky sauce, you can also puree carrots, zucchini, squash to hide in the sauce.  

3.  Steamer Bags

If you haven't tried Ziploc Steamer Bags, they are a must-have for quick and easy veggies!  Trust me on this one.

These easy-to-use bags are my little miracle workers, perfectly steaming hard vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and sweet potatoes in just a couple minutes via the microwave.  They will also precisely cook frozen bags of vegetables. Instructions and times to microwave are on one side of the bag for reference: 

The Hubs hated sweet potatoes, since the only ones he had been exposed to in the past was the squishy, marshmallow topped casserole at Thanksgiving.  Now he asks for them all the time.  And our dog Zoey loves them too.  I'm still trying to persuade the Youngest to get on board, however!

So All Hail the Mighty Vegetable! 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

#almostpaleo - The Best Zucchini Bread Ever! (Really!)

There is dancing in my kitchen right now.  A serious happy dance.

For the third time, I have succeeded with a healthy zucchini bread recipe is that is scrumptuous, delicious and oh so moist.  Cloves in this recipe add to the tastiness of this bread.

And since I have had success with it, I will now share it with you all.

I tweaked a recipe I found on the Betty Crocker website to make it "sugar-free" and using no vegetable oil. If you are following The Daniel Plan or cutting back on the White Menaces, than this recipe is for you.

Healthier Zucchini Bread
(Click here to Print)

3 cups shredded zucchini (2-3 medium)
2/3 melted coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired

1.   Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in the center of the oven.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  
2.   Grease bottoms of two 8" x 4" pans (which I did) or one 9" x 5" loaf pan with cooking spray.
3.   Shred zucchini with grater or chop in a food processor.  
4.   In large bowl or in the food processor, mix zucchini, Truvia, melted coconut oil, vanilla and eggs. Stir or pulse until well mixed.  
5.   Stir in remaining dry ingredients.  
6.   Finally, add any nuts or raisins and mix in by hand.
7.   Divide batter evenly between the two 8-inch loaf pans or pour all into 9-inch loaf pan.
8.   Bake 8-inch loaves 50-60 minutes; 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
9.   Cool in pans for 10 - 15 minutes.  Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on cooling rack.
Cool loaves completely, about two hours before slicing.  Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days - if it lasts that long! 

This recipe works perfectly for two 8" x 3-3/4" aluminum loaf pans.  When loaves are cool, I remove one from the pan and slice to eat; the other loaf I leave in the pan, wrap, then freeze in a freezer bag for later.  Enjoy!