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Warning: Dangerously addicting baked Zucchini Artichoke Mac & Cheese

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YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

This deliciously healthy baked creation is undoubtedly going to have you hooked for WEEKS, MONTHS even YEARS! The moment this passes your lips, it will be all you’ll think about. Trees will start to form into zucchinis, your pool will start to appear filled with whole wheat pasta, your toothpaste may appear to be mozzarella flavored.

Yes, it’s that good!

At 2:32am last night, I couldn’t sleep because there were workers outside our house working on an exploded underground pipe. They obviously couldn’t care less if I had a 7am Zumba class this morning, because they couldn’t have possibly been any louder. Since, sleep was not going to happen any time soon, I decided to make the most of this extra God-Given time on these creative hands of mine.

2 veggies, some crumbled up garlic-Parmesan pita chips, a whole lot of cheese and a box of whole wheat pasta later; out came this delicious creation!

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz whole wheat pasta
  • Sliced and chopped zucchini
  • Chopped artichoke hearts
  • 2 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 2 slices of Chipotle cheese (for a spicy finish)
  • 2 oz Low-fat Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 tbs whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup of crumbled Garlic-Parmesan pita chips
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Perfect Noodles:

  • Boil and strain your whole wheat pasta. You want to leave the pasta a bit chewy, because it will soften up in the oven later. No soggy noodles here!

Cheese Sauce

Delicious cheese sauce:

  • Heat your butter on low-medium head. Mix in the cream cheese and the flour. Slowly add the milk, followed by your spices and cheese. When it becomes a thick creamy consistency, add your noodles.

Saute Zucchini

Veggies:

  • Sautee your sliced and chopped zucchinis with about 1 tsp of oil from the artichoke hearts, as well as a hand full of artichoke hearts. If you don’t have artichoke heart oil, olive oil works as well.
  • Add the sauteed veggies to the noodles and cheese sauce

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Baking your addicting cheesy dish:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
  • In an oven-safe dish, spread your mixture evenly.
  • Sprinkle your crumbled pita chips across the top. You can also add some Panko crumbs for a bit more crunch. I also added some more sprinkled mozzarella cheese on top as well.
  • Bake for 15-20 mins (until golden brown on top).

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Don’t invite anyone over to eat this with you. Devour in 5 minutes flat all by yourself. Don’t share with anyone, trust me it’s too good to share.

 

 

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Crispy Fresh Sweet Potato Burgers! A sweet spin on a vegetarian patty

Veg Sweet Potato Burgers

Now that my pallet is expanding, I’m tasting/combining ALL kinds of new ingredients! After I fell head-over-heels in love with sweet potatoes, the possibilities that I can make with them seem to be endless.

This is by far my favorite recipe that I’ve created so far, 100% Vegetarian of course 🙂

Since sweet potatoes are PACKED with iron and tons of vitamins, this is a deliciously healthy meal too! I don’t know about you, but guilt-free burgers sound like heaven to me.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can of white beans (I used cannellini beans)
  • 1/2 sweet potato (baked, peeled and mashed) *it comes out to about 1 cup
  • 1 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning
  • 1/8 cup of wheat flour  (regular flour can be used as well, however wheat flour is a bit healthier)
  • Panko Crumbs
  • Whole Wheat Buns

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Easy Steps:

  1. Bake (or boil) your potatoes. Then peel them and mash them up into a dough-like consistency.
  2. Drain your cannellini beans, add them to your bowl of sweet potatoes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, excluding the Panko crumbs.
  4. Form your mixture into patty shapes, and coat in Panko Crumbs.
  5. Cook your patties in a light coat of olive oil until golden brown on both sides.
  6. Serve between your whole wheat buns and add your toppings and dressings of choice!

I used Avocado slices, tomatoes and spinach with home made zesty thousand island dressing.

If you double the recipe, you can pre-prepare enough for the whole week. You know how I love pre-preparing food since I’m so busy. Try it out, it’s an excellent time and money saver!

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Zesty Chipotle Hummus

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Sorry… I’m not sorry for this half-eaten hummus picture!

I didn’t even think of snapping a picture before my best friend and I practically devoured it in 5 minutes flat.

Yep it was THAT good.

This is a bit more of an easier way to make hummus. Great for a mid-day snack and it’s the perfect compliment to some flat bread poppyseed chips or even some healthy carrots 🙂

Save yourself some money and time, and make a batch of this zesty deliciousness at home!

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I found a Fitness Center in the mountains!!

WOAH!

Just when I thought this road trip up to a small town in Julian couldn’t get any more awesome- I FOUND A FITNESS CENTER IN THE MOUNTAINS!

Julian is a tiny town in the mountains with a population of less then 1,000 people. Needless to say, I was impressed to see their dedication to fitness among such a small community.

My best friend Allie gladly snapped a Picture of Locket and I strutting our muscular poses in front of the fitness center haha. As you can see, Locket seemed more interested in lady bugs and daisies on the ground then treadmills.

If I can find a fitness center in the mountains, YOU can find a gym near you! No excuses, get your butt up and exercise today! If I had brought a pair of tennis shoes with me, you can BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR that I would be kicking some butt on the bicycle in there.

Julian Fitness

… We also found a jail… just incase I tried to steal a shopping cart full of Apple Pecan salad dressing from my last post (They must have known I was coming Hahahah)

Jail fabulous

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American Honey ♫

I was SO head-over-heels excited to find a shelf of all-natural honey flavors on the shelf above the delicious salad dressings!

Not to mention, the song “American Honey” played on our Road Trip Playlist on the way home from our BFF Road Trip. Gosh I love country music so much ❤

All-natural honey is SO much better for you because there’s nothing added to it like the honey you’ll find at the grocery stores. No added sugars, no artificial preservatives, and no added coloring. In other words, all the flavors you taste, and the colors you see in the bottle come from the actual fruit.

All-natural Honey> Store bought honey.

If you’re ever visiting a small town (as I am today with my best friend Allie and my puppy Locket) be sure to stock up on all natural foods. Small towns commonly make their own foods, and they’re much better for your body.

A good rule to remember:

Read the ingredients- if there are more then 5 ingredients, don’t buy it.

American Honey

After my many minutes of sifting through all the flavors of natural honeys, jams and dressings from my last post; Allie, Locket and I malingered into the hidden bottom half of the store. It felt like we stumbled into Wonderland! White warm lights, tea cups, vintage mirrors and red plant-bicycles galore!

If that was a real red bike, I totally would have bought it and rode around the little town of julian with Locket in my basket all day.

If you’re ever in Cali, I definitely recommend a little adventure with your best friend into the hills of Julian California 🙂

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Decoding Nutrition!

Decoding Nutrition!

This is an AWESOME little chart I found on Miramountlifestyle.com.
If you do nothing else productive today, take a good long look at this chart.
GET EDUCATED ON WHAT GOES IN YOUR BODY!

Those nutrition labels aren’t there to look pretty.

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Artichoke Adventures

Did you know that Artichokes are one of the WORLD’S most healthiest foods? 

Artichoke Before:After

YES! But Why?

  • REALLY high in anti-oxidants
  • Cancer fighting properties
  • Really good for the liver *Also known for as a hangover treatment for you drinkers out there!*
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Really high in Fiber (which helps with digestion)

If you had asked me a year ago to eat this weird flowery looking cactus shaped vegetable… I would have looked at you like you were crazy.

Now that my taste buds are developing, I tried them for the first time about a year ago and I AM IN LOVE WITH THEM!

If you’ve never tried an artichoke before, I highly recommend it!

MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRY AND EAT ONE! They’re complicated to eat, but totally worth the extra effort.

How to eat an artichoke:

After you’ve steamed or boiled it for 25-35 minutes begin to eat.

  1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time
  2. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.
  3. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.
  4. I dip mine in a home made garlic sauce that I make myself with FRESH garlic. This not only adds to the flavors of the artichoke, it adds another entire health benefit from the fresh garlic!

Get out of your comfort zone, it’s no fun in there!