Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

IMG_2227I love chocolate. I love zucchini. But chocolate AND zucchini sounds like a weird disastrous combo like marshmallows with celery or white chocolate with tomatoes. At least that’s what I thought years ago before I had my first slice of zucchini bread.

Zucchini bread is amazingly moist and lightly sweet, plus, it’s getting you to eat your veggies right?!

They are lovely versatile summer veggies that I absolutely love all year-round, I’ve even made them into pancakes and chips!

For my first attempt at zucchini bread, I followed Chelsea’s Messy Apron blog’s Healthy Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread. There are many ways to “healthify” your zucchini bread and this recipe does it in every way – from using coconut oil (instead of butter or vegetable oil), dark chocolate chips (instead of milk chocolate), and sneaking in some oats (instead of all white flour).

You will need:

  • 1 bread loaf pan, greased and floured or lined with parchment paper
  • grater
  • blender (if you do not have oat flour)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup low fat greek vanilla yogurt (you can use plain to reduce sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (I think I even used less to cut down sugar)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour, measured after blending
  • 1 cup white or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

IMG_2208First some of your ingredients require some extra prep work: zucchini needs grating, banana needs mashing, and oats need blending. But the results are well worth the effort.

As you start grating the zucchini, wrap handfuls in a paper towel and squeeze out all the water. You don’t want soggy zucchini bread. Do this until you have about 1 cup of grated zucchini. IMG_2210Pre-heat your oven to 325°F.

If you don’t have oat flour at home, that’s ok! I always have some old-fashion oats at home (mostly for baking purposes, secondly for breakfast!) and I just pulse it in my food processor for a few seconds and I’ll have finely ground oat flour that will give the bread some subtle chewiness. IMG_2215In a large bowl mix all your wet ingredients: yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, melted coconut oil, and honey. Add in mashed banana and light brown sugar.

In a small bowl mix all dry ingredients: oat flour, white flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

(I know I accidentally switched around the bowl sizes, I always do this!) IMG_2216Add the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just enough to blend everything together. Don’t keep mixing unless you like very dense bread. IMG_2217Lastly, gently stir in the zucchini and optional nuts/chocolate chips. IMG_2218Pour into your greased or lined bread loaf pan. IMG_2219 Set your timer for 40-50 minutes. It’s a big time range but you just have to see if the bread looks “done”- when the sides pull alway from the pan and the top gets a golden brown color. I took mine out at about 46 minutes. IMG_2222I was suppose to wait 10-15 minutes for the bread to cool, but I think I waited 5 and couldn’t help but taste test the softest, perfectly sweetened, and most delicious zucchini bread! IMG_2224

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Healthier Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup

IMG_2140 Has anyone ever made a whole recipe just because of one ingredient? I do that all the time, even when it seems impractical or counterproductive. I made this delicious, creamy hearty wild rice and chicken soup for two reasons:

  1. it’s freaking delicious
  2. because I had a container of sour cream

Seems silly just for sour cream, but I had all the other ingredients and a lot of free time. I loosely followed this Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup from Eating WellIMG_2130Step 1. First things first, let’s cook the wild rice. This will take almost 40 minutes, so best to let it cook while we put everything else together. Prepare the rice as the package instructs. You will need about 1 – 1 1/2 cup cooked wild rice. I never realized how expensive wild rice was until I bought it for the first time I made this recipe. The bag I bought was about $12. Yikes! Definitely a grocery splurge. But so worth it if you consider that wild rice tastes great and has a nutty flavor but fills you up with lots of fiber and essential minerals like zinc and folate.

Step 2. You will need:

  • a small pot
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I had to make due with baby carrots and extra shredded carrots)

IMG_2131Heat up the olive oil over medium heat in the pot. Add in all the vegetables and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes. IMG_2132Step 2. You will need:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • pepper

Add in the flour and coat the cooked vegetables until browned. Sprinkle salt and pepper in for flavor. Cook everything for about 2 minutes. IMG_2133Step 3. Add in:

  • 32 oz of reduced sodium chicken broth (4 cups)

Bring the broth to boil and lower the heat to simmer. IMG_2134Step 4. Add in:

  • 3 cups of shredded chicken (or turkey if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or dried parsley

Add in the chicken and stir. IMG_2136Step 5. Add in the sour cream and parsley and stir until all ingredients are combined.       Once the soup is heated through, lower the heat enough to just keep the pot warm. Your wild rice should be done soon. Once the rice is ready, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups to the soup and mix well. IMG_2139

IMG_2141Just in time for a rainy day (on the third day of summer, of course, Seattle!)…that’s okay, I got my Netflix and a bowl of this yummy warm soup!

Healthy Protein Balls

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This is my first post as a post-grad! Blame my thesis and the race to the graduate finish line for the lack of updates. Most days I was lucky to have time to eat, much less try new recipes or write blog posts.

At the beginning of this year I did make a real effort to make time to work out and to eat healthier – which meant a lot of meal prepping and healthier snacking. I wanted to up my protein intake, but from non-meat sources.

I absolutely had to try these no-bake protein balls from The Healthy Maven. This is my first time making and eating “energy balls” and this one had all the ingredients I love. There are endless versions out there of these little protein-packed snacks in tons of flavors from carrot cake to chocolate chip. Try ’em all and find your fav!

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You’ll need:

  • mixing bowl
  • measuring spoons
  • liquid measuring cup
  • dry ingredients measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder (*I used a vegan protein powder that I had at home)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup smooth nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, whatever you like!)
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup add-in (e.g. chocolate chips raisins, etc.)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of liquid (I used almond milk, but you can use water, soy, regular milk)
  • air tight container

In your large mixing bowl add in the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Mix. 25901572902_86c4a35835_z

Next add in the nut butter, honey and vanilla. Stir, stir, stir! 25901667012_4139594f84_z

After everything is thoroughly mixed, it should be sticky but still dry and crumbly. Add in your raisins, chocolate chips, or other add-ins you desire. This gives it some extra flavor and texture.

Here’s the fun, messy part. Start with 1 tablespoon of the liquid and mix everything with your hands. If the mixture is still pretty crumbly and not holding shape, then add another tablespoon of liquid. Repeat this until it is the desired texture and you feel like you can shape it into balls. If it’s too dry, it will fall apart, if there’s too much liquid it will be very messy and won’t hold it’s shape. 25393375863_90d61dd5ca_z

Roll into bite-size balls and place in a container. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

The 30 minutes felt like such a long time, I couldn’t want to try it! When I finally did, I was so excited to find a recipe for a delicious, healthy, super-filling, and protein-packed snack! These are easy to take anywhere, great for a mid-afternoon snack to carry you over to dinner. The energy balls look small but are so dense with nut butter and oats that just one will make you feel pretty full. I added raisins and they were the perfect touch of sweetness! These should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge. 25393600673_b87260bc89_zNow that school’s out (forever!), I hope I have more time to try and share new recipes. Don’t worry, I may be trying to eat healthier, but that does not mean the end of desserts and decadent sweets for Sweet Therapy.

Oven-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

Happy November readers! Here in Seattle, we are definitely feeling that autumn chill, pulling out those heavy coats, chugging hot toddies, and bouncing off the walls from leftover Halloween candy. I don’t usually get to do much for Halloween, not that I don’t like the holiday, I just usually am too lazy/busy to join in the festivities. But this year, I had some classmates who have never carved pumpkins before so we had ourselves a little carving party.

This was a great chance to keep the seeds and roast some healthy snacks! Man, have you guys ever hollowed out a pumpkin before? It’s a lot of (messy) work!  22933674832_84259c2dd1_o

The last time I got to carve a pumpkin was probably when I was like 9! That was also the last time my dad kept the seeds and roasted them. My boyfriend and I decided to carve something cute and easy: we looked up a lot of ideas on the net and settled on characters from Totoro– a very famous childhood anime movie. This is mini totoro and the soot gremlin. Aren’t they cute!

Okay – back to the cooking! Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas”. They are super healthy, loaded with fiber, protein, iron and magnesium. I love tossing a handful of shelled seeds into salads, oatmeal, or quinoa. Course, they are also awesome as snacks. There’s lots of recipes online on how to roast these but I just found this one from Popsugar that has foolproof steps.

You’ll need:

  • the seeds (It’s okay if you have the stringy, gooey pumpkin insides stuck on them)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper or whatever spices you like
  • a big bowl
  • a paper towel/towel
  • a cookie sheet
  • foil

Start off by filling up the bowl with cold water and soaking the seeds for about 15 mins. This will get most of the membrane off like magic! Drain and spread them out on a towel or paper towel until they are completely dry. I actually left mine out overnight, but maybe 4 hours is enough. Blotting with a paper towel may help too.
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When you are ready to make the seeds: preheat your oven at 350ºF and cover a cookie sheet with foil.

Toss the dried seeds with a tablespoon of olive oil or enough so that each one is lightly coated. Sprinkle salt and spices in so that they are evenly covered. I used Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning” that just has tons of stuff in it from black pepper to garlic to paprika!

In about 15 minutes you get crispy, golden pumpkin seeds!  22759072040_bac8de6861_o

Let them cool and them store in an airtight container.22933656162_99695a74d6_o

Snack on and snack happy everyone!

Mango Lassi

photo 1Lassi is a traditional yogurt drink really popular in India and Southeast Asian countries. It is absolutely delicious, refreshing and (sorta) healthy! Every time I eat Indian food I can’t help but order one. This is my own simple recipe I based on recipe research from Mango Lassi II and Veg Recipes of India

IMG_0575Makes 1 serving (~12 oz). You’ll need:

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 cup yogurt (greek or regular) -any flavor is fine
  • 1/2 cup milk (or your own preference of milk substitute)

Some recipes will suggest sugar or honey but since my greek yogurt is already honey flavored and the mango was very ripe- it was already very sweet.

IMG_0577  IMG_0579 IMG_0580Chop up the mango. I found a neat trick for cutting mangos, stand the mango up, slice off the sides and carefully score a grid without cutting through the skin, push it inside out, and cut off the cubes.

IMG_0581 IMG_0583Blend up the mango chunks first and add the yogurt and the milk and blend again. Add more milk if you’d like a more liquid consistency.

And just like that – a mango lassi drink! I was so excited to be able to make lassi at home and drink it whenever I want. With the warm summer weather, a lassi is a great alternative to smoothies!

Lassis can come in all flavors, you can use papaya, rose, or any flavor you want to try! photo 1

 

Overnight Oatmeal aka “Summer Porridge”

Summer is no where near Seattle right now but I am completely obsessed with overnight oatmeal and it’s a great breakfast any time of the year. When I first tried this, I couldn’t believe how amazingly delicious and easy this was. After the first time I tried it my only thought was: “Next time, must double recipe!”

The Yummy Life has a great starter recipe with five different variations like Blueberry Maple which so far is my favorite one.

For the basic recipe you will need:

  • 1 airtight container or mason jar (everything tastes better in a mason jar!)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats (do not try to use steel cut or other kinds)
  • 1/3 cup milk (e.g. soy, almond, hemp, rice, cow, coconut)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon dried Chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoon pure real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
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Ch-ch-chia! These little guys are a great healthy, vegan source of Omega-3, minerals and fiber. When they come into contact with liquids, they form gelatinous coating and provides satiety.

2015-01-08 20.43.52For a busy grad student like me I need a meal I can throw together fast and overnight oatmeal is a dream come true. I grab a jar, throw in the oats, milk, yogurt, and chia seeds. Then I add the maple syrup and shake it all up! 

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Lastly add the fruit and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

2015-01-11 12.56.22Voila, you have amazing, delicious, healthy, satisfying, convenient breakfast for any time of the year.

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Basic Zucchini Pancake

My mom calls this an “Italian Pancake” – I have no idea what makes it Italian (Google ‘Italian pancake’ and this does not come up)! But with this super easy, über-basic recipe you can definitely give it whatever cultural spin you want. This savory pancake is similar to vegetable fritters (less crispy and oily) or Korean zucchini pancakes called Hobak Buchim. When my mom made this years ago, I was blown away and asked her for the recipe. As a true home cook, she never used precise measurements but attempted to give me some guidance:

You’ll need:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • chopped deli ham (optionally of course)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of water (or broth for extra flavor!)
  • a large shallow pan
  • large spoon or small soup ladle
  • spatula
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Makes about 2-3 pancakes about 6″ in diameter

Start off by washing, peeling and grating the zucchini with a medium cheese grater- you don’t want it to be too fine or else it starts getting mushy.

Combine the flour, eggs, broth or water in a large bowl then add your vegetable or meat ingredients last. Make sure it is well mixed and the zucchini is coated with the batter.

2014-03-31 18.50.18Heat the pan to medium and add the oil, wait until the pan is nice and warm-hot and drop about 3/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook like you would a breakfast pancake.

2014-03-31 18.32.26When you start seen bits of golden brown (after about 5-6 minutes) you can flip the pancake over and cook for about another 5-6 minutes.

2014-03-31 18.36.19These pancakes are delicious and best served piping hot. You can eat it by itself or get creative and eat it like a crepe! Below I made zucchini pancakes and added ham afterwards for a quick lunch!

2014-03-31 18.54.58You can go crazy with the recipe and substitute or add other vegetables or experiment with different types of squash. I would, however, avoid vegetables that have a high water content, cheese, or extra sauces so the pancake does not get soggy. Some ideas for additions:

  • bell peppers
  • jalapeños (for a KICK!)
  • mushrooms
  • fresh herbs
  • thinly sliced onions
  • sun-dried tomato slices
  • artichoke
  • julienned carrots
  • spinach
  • hashbrowns (!!)

Note: if you do decide to add much more ingredients then you may need to adjust the batter to make sure its well proportioned.

2014-03-31 18.51.06Thanks ma!