Double Zucchini Chocolate Muffins

Double Zucchini Chocolate Muffins

Healthy Balanced Snack Secrets

Snacks are so fun, aren’t they!? The best snacks are balanced, containing a carbohydrate plus some protein and/or fat. Snacks can also be a strategic way to get in more fruits and vegetables. Make these muffins as a delicious mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up. You’ll be satisfying your sweet tooth and nourishing yourself with a healthy, balanced snack. If you want to hear more about the Well Balanced Way to snack, check out our workshop on Balanced Snack Secrets. 

Cooking with Chef Christy

In this episode of cooking with Chef Christy, I bake a delicious muffin that works as a wonderful, balanced snack. While it is not your normal super light and fluffy muffin, it IS very nutritious and fun!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

These muffins make the best Well Balanced Snack! They contain carbs, fat, protein, fruits and veggies. making them balanced, nutritous and delicious.

It's a great way to use fresh zucchini and strawberries which are abundant in the summer months.

  • food processor
  • silicone muffin cups
  • cookie/muffin scoop
  • muffin tin
  • mixing bowls (2)
  • measuring cups
  • 1 cup oats (ground (or 3/4 cup oat flour) gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 zucchini (small) (grated and dried (makes about 1 cup grated))
  • 1 1/2 cup strawberries (chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (or alternative)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 Tbs coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Grind the oats in a blender to create a fine flour (or purchase oat flour).
  3. Grate the zucchini, then squeeze out the excess water in cheesecloth (or chop in a mini food processor to save time).
  4. Chop the strawberries (use a food processor to save time).
  5. Spray muffin tins with baking oil or use silicone liners.
  6. Prepare the wet ingredients:

    In a large bowl: combine the strawberries, nut butter, eggs, and vanilla and stir to combine.

  7. Prepare the dry ingredients:

    In a separate bowl: whisk the oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, sea salt, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar

  8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.

  9. Fold in the zucchini and half the chocolate chips.

  10. Scoop the batter into 12 muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 of the way full (or completely full if using silicone liners).

  11. Top the muffins with the other half of the chocolate chips.

  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

  13. Let the muffins cool for 10 mins in the muffin tins, then remove and let cool on a cooling rack for a few more minutes.

Storing Options:

  • Store in the fridge for a week
  • Freeze for 1-3 months. To freeze, cool completely, and then place muffins in a freezer bag. 

 

Equipment Suggestions:

Snack
baked goods
dairy free, gluten free
3 Steps to Super Tender and Flavorful Chicken Thighs

3 Steps to Super Tender and Flavorful Chicken Thighs

In this episode of Cooking with Chef Christy we get a brief overview (#lifehack) for adding juicy flavors without the fancy #sousvide equipment. She walks us through starting with a flavorful marinade for protein of your choice (such as chicken thighs). Then you cook them briefly on the grill. Lastly, you put the meat back in the marinade and bake in the oven for a flavor packed #protein.

Doing these steps in this order means that the active cooking time is finished early. You can use this passive cooking time to finish work, go play or prepare any other foods for this meal.

For more help making delicious meals like these, contact us to talk about how you can make more Well Balanced meals at home: https://wellbalancednutrition.com/contact-us/ #cooking #wellbalanced #homemade

First Add Flavor:

A marinade is a fairly quick way to add a ton of flavor to your chicken. We have this DIY recipe for you or you can buy premade spice blends at the store.

Option 1 – Moroccan Marinade (Recipe listed at the bottom of this post.)

Option 2 – Curry Blend (Recipe listed at the bottom of this post.)

Second Sear In The Flavor:

Grill the chicken for 10 minutes to for some caramelization and a bit of char if you’re into that. This step also adds a bit of texture, which holds up even after the finishing step.

Lastly, Finish Cooking In Oven:

In this method, the marinade doesn’t just flavor the outside of the chicken. Braising (which is what’s happening in the oven) allows these flavors to better penetrate the chicken. It also puts any excess marinade to good use here, as too much moisture on the grill tends to get messy.

Moroccan Chicken

  • 1  1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric optional
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Directions
  • Whisk together all ingredients, except chicken, together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add chicken and let marinade while grill heats or up to 12 hours.
  • Preheat grill.
  • Place chicken breasts on grill, brushing on additional marinade over top. Grill, covered, for 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Place seasoned, grilled chicken thighs into an oven-safe dish, along with any leftover marinade.
  • Add 1-2 ounces of chicken broth.  *In a pinch, just use water. You’ll have plenty of flavors already.
  • Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for 60- 90 minutes. The chicken should be tender and fork-shreddable after 60 minutes but can cook longer for more tenderness.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and gently shred the chicken with a fork before serving. You can also serve the chicken in larger pieces if desired.
  • SUGGESTION: Serve w/ rice, peppers, green olives, lemon. Add cilantro if you have it. You can use cauliflower rice, whole grain rice, couscous or your favorite grain.

Notes:

  • While many ethnic foods have a reputation for being spicy, they don’t have to be. It’s very easy to omit chiles and build up a tolerance over time if you wish.
  • Fresh spices make a difference. Use dried spices within 3 months of opening for the best flavor.

Curry Chicken

Ingredients
  • 1 T ground coriander seeds
  • 1 T ground turmeric
  • 2 t ground fenugreek seeds
  • 2 t ground cumin seeds
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • ½ t ground black pepper
  • ¼ t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t ground cloves
  • ¼ t ground cardamom
  • ¼ t ground cayenne peppers (optional)
  • coconut milk or Chicken Broth*
  • 1 lb chicken thighs
Directions
  • Whisk together all ingredients, except chicken, together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add chicken and let marinade while grill heats or up to 12 hours.
  • Preheat grill.
  • Place chicken breasts on grill, brushing on additional marinade over top. Grill, covered, for 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Place seasoned, grilled chicken thighs into an oven-safe dish, along with any leftover marinade.
  • Add 1-2 ounces of chicken broth or coconut milk.  *In a pinch, just use water. You’ll have plenty of flavors already.
  • Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for 60- 90 minutes. The chicken should be tender and fork-shreddable after 60 minutes but can cook longer for more tenderness.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and gently shred the chicken with a fork before serving. You can also serve the chicken in larger pieces if desired.
  • SUGGESTION: Serve w/ jasmine rice, shreds of zucchini, and carrots

Notes:

  • I (Christy) like a brighter, more floral curry powder and favor a little more turmeric and less cumin than some blends.
  • Fresh spices make a difference. Use dried spices within 3 months of opening for the best flavor.
  • Plain Greek yogurt (full fat) makes a great base for the marinade too if you have this rather than coconut milk.
Meal Prep vs Food Prep? Either Way You Win

Meal Prep vs Food Prep? Either Way You Win

You know those pretty pictures you see on Instagram or Pinterest with someone’s meals prepared for the whole week? Maybe you think “wow, I should do that too.“

The Sunday meal prep phenomenon

Then after weeks of thinking about it, you buckle down one Sunday afternoon, spend 3 hours in the kitchen, and get the meals for the next 5-workdays chopped, prepped, cooked, and stored in individual containers. By Wednesday, you’re so over the brown rice, broccoli, and baked chicken that your favorite go-to takeout spots are looking better and better.

First of all, you’re not alone. This is completely normal. Our human brains thrive on a variety of nutrients; therefore, when we eat the same meal day-after-day, we get less pleasure each time we eat that dish. You may grin and bear it in an effort not to waste food (or the time you spent preparing the meals); however, consciously or subconsciously you may decide this meal prep thing just ain’t for you.

But I still want to eat at home more

Maybe eating the same meal(s) day-after-day did not pan out, but there are other options.

Last summer, I spoke with a client who decided to pull all of her favorite cookbooks out and prepare 3-4 new recipes each week. She came back a month later, feeling defeated, and expressed disappointment that she had only tried 2 new recipes total since our previous appointment. It turns out that she had a busy work schedule that included traveling at least two weeks out of the month and did not give her much downtime to try cooking new foods.

Together, we talked about options and solutions and I proposed she consider simplifying her food prep plans. All the recipes in cookbooks and Insta inspiration are great, but instead of thinking about preparing an entire meal we can start by incorporating food prep vs. meal prep.

What’s the difference between food prep and meal prep?

Whenever you think of a meal, I hope you picture the Well Balanced Nutrition plate, including half the plate filled with non-starchy vegetables (and/or fruits), happy protein, complex carbs, and a delicious fat to bring it all together.

I will admit, it can be overwhelming to think of incorporating all of the things, all the time. Each time you eat is an opportunity to practice becoming Well Balanced. Instead of preparing meals with every component of the plate, I recommend starting with food prep. This can include making 2-3 dishes that you can later mix-and-match to combine into a meal. For instance, you can prepare a few servings of chicken salad to eat with a simple mixed greens salad or sliced cucumber and whole grain crackers. There is almost always a batch of quinoa or rice in my fridge, which can easily turn into a power bowl or Brown Rice Salsa Salad.

Meal prep may look like this…

Food prep may look like this…

Food for thought

If you’ve been beating yourself up for not being a meal prep superstar this is a good chance to (1) be nice to yourself because we each need to figure out our own system. Next, (2) consider trying food prep instead of meal prep. Pick a few items you already feel confident preparing and try making those this week.

Not sure where to get started? No worries, we’re here to help 🙂

3-Ingredient FroYo Fruit Bites

3-Ingredient FroYo Fruit Bites

Are you in need of a healthy and refreshing treat this summer? Look no further! These 3-ingredient FroYo Fruit Bites make a great snack for kids, taste delicious by the pool, and can be the perfect after dinner treat that will hit the spot. They are super simple to whip up – even kids can make them! Wendy Sharer, a local dietetic student, shows us how.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries

The only ingredients you need to make these refreshing FroYo bites is yogurt (I used Oikos Greek yogurt, plain) and 1 cup of berries or diced fruit. I used blackberries and raspberries because that’s what I had in the fridge at the time, but you could use almost any fruit such as strawberries, kiwi, peaches, pears or mango. 

After chopping up your fruit, just mix together the fruit and yogurt in a medium bowl. Finally, spoon bite-sized scoops of yogurt-fruit mixture onto a flat surface such as a plate covered with aluminum foil and place in the freezer for a 2 to 3 hours.  (You can also toss them in a blender for a smoother consistency and freeze them in an ice cube tray.)

Storing: Relocate FroYo Bites to a freezer ziplock bag or other container and enjoy within 1-2 weeks

FroYo Fruit Bites

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Scoop bite-sized amounts of yogurt-fruit mixture onto a flat surface.
  3. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Relocate FroYo Bites to a freezer bag or freezer-friendly container.
  5. Enjoy within 1-2 weeks.

 

Why this mom is jumping for joy

Why this mom is jumping for joy

#TransformationTuesday

Like many moms out there I have struggled with my weight and healthy eating habits.  I tend to put myself last as I have 4 awesome kids that take precedence of my attention, time, energy, and money for that matter.  At the end of every day I would say to myself as soon as I get the kids to bed I will workout, and well it would occasionally happen, but it never lasted.  Sometimes weight would come off, but I was tired of feeling sluggish, I wanted a real health change not only for myself but for my kids.

How I started my well-balanced journey

I wanted to figure out what I could do differently and that is why I started working with Well-Balanced Nutrition, and let me tell you, my life has changed so much in less than a year.  I did not want a quick fix, a fad diet, or to shame my body because I have children that are learning from everything they see me do.  I wanted to provide my children with lifelong tools that will help not only me but the kids be healthy and well-balanced.

Timing is everything

I knew that I did not want to focus entirely on the scale, but more so about how I felt, how my clothes fit, and the fuel I was putting into my body.  I began to meet with Lucy, who I was introduced to through my employer, and she was sent to me at the perfect time in my life.  Lucy helped me have a better relationship with food and quickly I started to eat more of the rainbow, as she referred to it. This was my first tool.  Make my plate colorful, the more color the better, and I am not talking about food coloring, folks.  Natural colors and boy what an adventure it has been to explore so many different fruits and veggies as well as different grains.  I can tell you, my 4-year-old son, he’s the youngest, loves salad, any kind, and will eat any green leafy lettuce you put in front of him with a meal and often 3 servings.   It is truly his favorite food.

Tips for busy moms

As moms know we are busy, but that does not mean we do not have time for a well-balanced meal with our family.   Eggs are budget friendly and can be mixed with so many veggies for a filling and healthy dinner when in a rush.  It is a go-to meal for me.  This has been my power tool.  Healthy food does not have to be fancy or expensive.   During the week I get our meals on the table in 30 minutes or less and I use the time I have saved to be more active with the kids and they love it.

I recently set up our trampoline in the backyard for the kids again. Now, after dinner, instead of dessert their treat is mommy going out and bouncing with them for 30 minutes!  The old saying, a body in motion stays in motion, is very true and we really have fun.  Last year, I told the kids, “No, I am too old, I cannot jump on the trampoline,” but ever since I have been practicing a well-balanced lifestyle, and with Well-Balanced Nutrition’s help of keeping me motivated and their tools I have so much more energy to be active, stay active and eat healthy every day.

Every day is a new start, I get up, weigh myself each day to make sure I am staying on track, and with Lucy’s help, I have been able to lose and keep off 15 pounds and counting.   But it is not the weight that I am interested in as much as how I feel each and every day, and how I am able to show my children that a happy and active life is better than the life of a couch potato.

Author: Bridget Vazquez Bennett