It’s officially zucchini season around here and, when the zucchini start coming in, they really start coming in. If you’ve ever grown squash, you know what I mean. We’ve been finding ways to get zucchini into almost every meal. And we had one enormous one that I knew would be perfect for adding to some baked goods. So, yesterday the kids and I made Chocolate Zucchini Muffcakes. (Never heard of a muffcake? Basically it’s a cupcake but I like to pretend their muffins. That way I can eat them whenever I want. :) And these even have veggies in them, so they’re definitely OK for breakfast, right??)
Chocolate Zucchini Muffcakes
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (or succanat)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
2 cups grated zucchini
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, powder, soda and salt. Add half to the butter mixture. Stir in milk. Then add remaining flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in your zucchini.
Pour into lined or greased muffin pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
Back from our vacation now and it was definitely more difficult to eat right away from home. For the most part we were able to stick to our unprocessed food plan. Our homemade snacks we made before the trip were a big help. They lasted us through most of our vacation. We added to that with a lot fresh fruits and vegetables. Thank goodness for summer!
Eating well on vacation was made easier because we stayed in a house with a full kitchen. When you have to rely on only restaurant foods, you’ll have a much harder time. And it’s a lot more expensive! We stayed with extended family and all took turns preparing meals. We all got a break from making dinner every night and we still got to enjoy healthy foods.
I was very impressed by some of the choices the kids made about their eating. When presented with ice cream or fruit as a dessert one night, they chose fruit! My oldest even helped himself to seconds of salad one night! It really proves that kids don’t have to eat “kid food.” They are capable of making good food choices. They just need to be steered in the right direction.
We had a wonderful time on vacation but I am glad to be back home and be able to get back into our own routines. I can’t believe we are coming to the end of July. Five more months and we will be completely unprocessed. Next challenge on the horizon: unprocessing kids’ birthday parties!
We’ve been on vacation for six days now and it sure is a lot harder to avoid processed foods away from home. For the most part we’ve been doing well. There have been a few slip-ups – some bottled lemonade here and a few cheerios there, but all-in-all our diet has stayed pretty sound. It helps that we did bring some snack foods with us so we are able to avoid some of the worst processed foods. And it is definitely easier to eat well in the summer, I think. When you can get your fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm, they are so much better.
Here are a couple of tips for eating well away from home:
* Stay somewhere with access to a kitchen. If you have to rely on restaurant foods for your trip, you are going to have a hard time eating well.
* Look into farmer’s markets/farm stands in the local area. They are your best bet for healthy foods.
* Bring food with you if you are going out for the day. As I said before, most places will allow you to bring food in. We’ve packed lunches and snacks for zoos, parks, museums and Disney World.
* Try to rely on simpler foods (fruits, nuts, baby carrots) that require minimal preparation so you can eat well and still have time to enjoy your vacation. Even I don’t want to spend my entire vacation preparing foods.
I will have limited access to a computer next week for the second half of our trip, but I will give you an update on how we fared eating well on vacation. Enjoy your summer!
This past weekend we traveled over 900 miles to visit family. 17 hours in the car with four kids! It was a very long day. We stopped at a lot of rest areas along the way. And, although the “restaurants” might not be the same at each one, the food choices are surprisingly similar. You can usually get a burger or maybe some greasy pizza. And of course there is the little convenience store which sells chips and candy and all of the usual snack foods. Being on the road can make eating healthy food very difficult.
So, how do you handle a trip of that length without succumbing to the junk food options? Plan ahead and pack all of your food. There really is no easy way to travel in a healthy way. You need to be prepared before you leave home. Even the salad options at most of the restaurants are questionable. I spent the couple of weeks before the trip getting snacks ready. Every time we made a batch of crackers or granola bars, we doubled them and stuck half in the freezer. so that when we left for our trip we had a great assortment of snacks for the car. And some extras so that we had healthy snacks for a few days at our destination.
We had a big cooler packed with sandwiches, carrots and fruit for lunch with cookies for dessert. And we had pasta salad and applesauce for dinner. We were able to buy milk for the kids to drink at the rest stops. And coffee so the adults could stay awake during the drive!
We saved money by not purchasing our meals at the rest areas and I felt good about the food I was giving to the kids. It makes for a bit more work when you’re preparing for a trip, but it is definitely worth the effort.
Eating well when you are away from home can often be a challenge. You can’t always bring your own food when you travel (such as when you’re flying), but when you have the option, take advantage of it. Zoos, museums, parks. You can bring your own meals to all of those. Don’t feel that you have to eat the food offered at the concession stands. We may get strange looks sometimes because we seem to travel always with a small cooler, but I don’t mind. As long as I’m feeding my family well, that’s all that matters.
The issue up for discussion is whether food stamps (or SNAP – supplemental nutrition assistance program – as it’s now known) should be restricted to use only for “healthy” foods. Currently this assistance can be used to purchase soda, koolaid and any and all types of junk food. On one side are health advocates who worry about the effects of junk food consumption on one’s health and the alarmingly high rates of obesity. On the other side are those that worry that these restrictions are “condescending, probably wouldn’t be effective and would stigmatize aid recipients.” I understand the argument that restrictions might seem “condescending” but the fact is that advice about nutrition can be baffling. If restricting SNAP use to healthy food helps (ok, forces) people to make good food choices, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. And I really don’t understand how this would be “stigmatizing” to the users of this program.
This idea might limit participants choices at a grocery store, but there are still plenty of choices to be had. Just walk through the produce section of a large supermarket and you’ll see how many choices are left even when you restrict unhealthy purchases.
Almost fifty years ago, some questioned the use of assistance to purchase soda. Senator Paul Douglas said, “I do not want to include Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola or any of that family (in the Food Stamp Act)… I want to help the poor and hungry and not sacrifice them for Coca-Cola. .. The only benefit I see in the present language is that it will increase the sales of Coca-Cola and other cola and soft drink companies.” Surely we can agree that soft drinks do not need to be paid for with food stamps. I don’t see that as a basic need.
I am 100% in favor of nutritional assistance, but I think this benefit should be used to purchase nutritionally valuable items. The word nutrition is right there in the name of this program – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – and there is NO nutritional value in any soft drink and in so many forms of junk food available.
If anyone else has opinions on this, I’d love to hear them. Even if it’s just to tell me that you completely disagree with me. :)
Last night we took advantage of some of the veggies coming up in our garden for our dinner. We had a chard quiche and some sauteed zucchini. It is so nice to just go out to the backyard when we need some ingredients for dinner. :) It doesn’t get any fresher than that. Chard (and similar greens) can be a bit of a hard-sell with most kids. Add some eggs and cheese and suddenly they love it! :)
1 tbsp each butter, olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded swiss chard
1 medium apple, chopped
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
a few dashes of nutmeg
1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
1 pie crust
Melt oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft. Add swiss chard, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook until chard is wilted.
Toss the apples with the flour and nutmeg in a small bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs and milk.
Spread the chard mixture into your pie crust. Top with the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top making sure to spread it evenly over the top.
Six more months to completely unprocessed eating. It is possible!
Here are the foods we still have left to remove from our diets:
August: soy foods – probably should have eliminated this earlier, but I still do like to have an occasional tofurkey sandwich.
September: breads/rolls/etc. - we usually make most of our own already, so this should be an easy one
October: canned foods and pasta – there are too many preservatives used in those canned tomatoes I still buy. Hopefully we’ll get enough tomatoes from our garden that I’ll be able to can my own!
November: experiments with beer making – this is just a fun one because we’ll officially be unprocessed in our eating.
December: cheese experiments – another fun month. I’ve always wanted to try making our own cheese but this is not something we plan to make ourselves in the future.
You’ll notice that I’ve left July off of this list. That’s because July’s challenge will be learning how to eat well while traveling. It is always more difficult to eat well when you are not at home. Stay tuned for tips! (That is if I survive 15 hours in a car with the twins. ;) )