Chocolate Zucchini Bread - yum!

I read a wonderful blog called Kalyn's Kitchen on an almost daily basis. Kalyn blogs on South Beach diet recipes, so her recipes generally fit into my eating plan. She bakes on a regular basis and yesterday's post made me drool - Chocolate Zucchini Bread (I love all things chocolate AND zucchini).

Now, Kalyn, being a South Beach enthusiast, bakes with a lot of Splenda. I don't use Splenda because it tastes gross and leaves a bitter aftertaste. When I looked at her recipe, I realized there was very little liquid in it, so agave nectar would work well as a replacement. I also decided to give the bread a little nutritional boost by replacing half of the whole wheat flour with almond meal. The resulting bread is yum, yum, yummy and the texture is perfect.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread (makes 12 generous servings)
2 eggs
1/2 C light agave nectar
1/2 C dark agave nectar
5 T canola oil
1 t vanilla
1/4 C buttermilk (or make your own with 1/4 t white vinegar added to 1/4 C milk)
1 1/2 C grated zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C whole grain whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 C cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 C chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, agave, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Stir in the grated zucchini. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, mix together the flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir just enough to combine. Then fold in chopped walnuts.

Scrape the batter into loaf pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan, then slice and serve.

Another quick dinner idea

Today I ran into my friend Stephanie at Trader Joe's. She wanted to know what was in my cart as she was needing inspiration for her dinner. Unfortunately, I had just walked in the door so I only had a few things in the cart to share with her. I did, however, tell her what sorts of things I typically serve in the summer to make meal prep as quick as possible.

My summer meals tend to be easy things that I can slap on the grill (or George Foreman) and serve with a side of whatever is in the fridge. Ground meat is a staple protein in the summer, as are boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Tonight I went with the later.

Here is my dinner tonight, which is a total throwback to the 90's. I whipped up some Roasted Red Pepper Aioli a few weeks ago and my family has been immersed in the land of big hair and high waisted jeans since then. We have eaten a few recipes worth and it is a hit every time I serve it. BTW, the aioli is good as a dip with veggies or in most sandwiches or wraps. It was particularly good with a smokey chicken burger recipe that I made last week. Stay tuned for that recipe.

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich (serves 2)

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, butterflied and pounded thin
1 large tomato, sliced
1 C spinach leaves, washed and dried
salt and pepper to taste
2 T Roasted Red Pepper Aioli (recipes follows)
2 buns, toasted or other bread of choice (I used TJ's Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane - thanks for the tip Stephanie)

Heat BBQ, George Foreman Grill or grill pan over high heat.

While the cooker is heating, liberally season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper. When the grill is hot, add chicken and cook until done (4 - 7 minutes, depending).

While the chicken is cooking, toast your bun or bread and set aside.

When chicken is done, remove to plate to cool. Begin assembling sandwich by spreading 1 T of the aioli on the bun. Next, layer 1/2 C spinach and 1/2 of the tomato on the bread. Top with 1/2 of the cooked chicken and the top layer of bread.

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli (makes approx 1 cup)

1 C good quality mayonnaise
2 large jarred roasted red peppers
1 large garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to food processor. Pulse until garlic and peppers are smooth and the mixture is well combined.

A shout out to Wendy part 3 - Easy Limeade in a Hurry

Here's another one Wendy. This was inspired by the beautiful limes in my fruit bowl and my kids whining about not getting soda. Two minutes later they were happily slurping down this quick and much-better-for-them-than-soda limeade. It is light and refreshing. Enjoy.

Easy Limeade in a Hurry
(makes 1 serving)
1/2 lime, scrubbed clean
1 T light agave syrup (or to taste)
1 1/2 C sparking water
Crushed ice

Squeeze lime juice directly into serving glass. Add agave syrup and mix well, Add crushed ice and sparkling water. Stir to combine. Garnish with lime slice and enjoy.

A shout out to Wendy part 2 - My favorite quick summer breakfast

OK Wendy, here's more for you. This is disturbingly easy, but sometimes we need to be reminded that good food can be simple. This is my favorite summer breakfast, especially when the fruit is ripe and delicious. Every time I have this for breakfast, I hum the Summer Fruit jingle from the early 80's ("Summer, summer fruits, it wouldn't be summer without them...Fresh from the tree...Taste 'em and see."). See if you aren't moved to hum the same tune when you try this.

Summer Fruit Yogurt Parfait (makes one generous serving)

1 C organic, plain yogurt (YES, use PLAIN yogurt. Do not use that sugar sweetened junk that the store tries to pass off as yogurt.)
1 C fresh fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries, but any berry or stone fruit is good)
1 - 2 T chopped nut of choice (I used walnuts)
Drizzle of agave syrup

Add yogurt to bowl. Top with fruit and nuts. Drizzle agave syrup over top. Enjoy immediately (I dare you to make it to the table without trying it first!)

A shout out to Wendy - a quick and easy healthy dinner

My friend Wendy is looking for quick and easy healthy meal ideas. Here is my shout out to her. This is actually what we ate for dinner last night. It was quick, easy and healthy. I served it to the kids with a quick, fresh fruit freeze (one peach, one cup strawberries, 1 1/2 cups chopped ice and 1 cup no sugar added fruit juice, all whirred up in the blender). They are yummy.

Quick and Easy Turkey Soft Tacos
(makes 8)

1 lb. ground turkey
3 heaping T homemade taco seasoning
1/2 t salt
1 C cooked black beans (if you use canned, rinse well)
3/4 C prepared tomato or marinara sauce
1/4 C water
8 low carb or whole wheat tortillas (I used Carb Balance by Mission)
Taco toppings as you like (we used shredded cabbage, no-salt added salsa, yogurt - the kids got shredded cheese)

Brown turkey in large skillet over medium high heat. Add taco seasoning, salt and black beans. Stir well to combine.

Once well mixed, add tomato sauce and water. Simmer for 10 minutes or until flavors are well combined.

Serve as directed above with your favorite taco toppings.