Sunday, March 13, 2011

Healthy Cooking Essentials & Healthy Zucchini Bread

My love for healthy baking and cooking is something that always seems to come out on Sundays. I have more time, and it seems that I quite often find myself in the kitchen. Whitney asked for a healthy zucchini bread recipe, so I decided to whip out some of the zucchini I had pureed and frozen a few months ago.
 We'll get to that...Whitney also asked...

"Also, as a total culinary novice, what are some essentials you have stocked for baking and cooking in general? Basics? Spices? Frozen? Pretty much, I'm changing the way I eat--this means going beyond pouring skim milk over Honey Bunches of Oats--so any tips would be much appreciated."

I loved this question! I think that changing the way you eat can be so overwhelming, especially when you are trying to make healthy improvements. It's hard to know what is the healthiest options are when trying to revamp your fridge and pantry.
I am not including fresh produce here because that is something that you'll constantly be replenishing. These are more of the items that I always make sure I have on hand. 

In the fridge...
Fat Free Ranch Dressing
Spray Butter
Skim Milk
La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortillas
Diced Garlic
Low-fat Cottage Cheese
Deli Turkey
Quick Rise Yeast 

In the pantry...
Rolled Oats
Peanut Butter/Almond Butter (I think I have like 6 jars of different nut butter...I love em.)
Healthy Cereal (For me it's Kashi Go Lean Crunch, Special K Protein Plus, & Corn Bran)
Canned Beans - I usually have garbanzo, black, kidney, and white. They are great quick source of protein to put in salads, in soups, pastas, etc.
Canned Veggies - green beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato paste, etc.
Popcorn. A favorite snack of mine.
Whole Wheat Pasta (I don't use this a ton, but I like to have it every now and then)
Brown Rice
Biochem Protein Powder
Sugar free hot chocolate
Fat free sugar free chocolate/banana pudding mixes (I use these to flavor my oatmeal)
Raw Almonds
Olive Oil 
Ground flax seed/chia seeds (can be added to anything)

In the freezer...
Frozen veggie mixes (Easy to steam and eat, throw in soups, add to stir fry, etc.)
Frozen Eda mame (I get the individual packs from Costo, they are an AWESOME snack)
Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Morning Star Veggie Patties/Black Bean Burgers
Frozen fruit for protein shakes (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Zucchini Cookies A go to snack for me.

For cooking/baking...
Cinnamon. I use this DAILY. In my oatmeal, protein shakes, over sweet potatoes, in baking. I love the stuff.
Lowry's Season Salt. To spice up eggs, veggies, chicken.
Kosher Salt
Ground Black pepper
Fajita Seasoning
Other cooking spices include: onion powder, garlic salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, oregano, basil...etc.
Non-stick cooking spray - This is a MUST have. This saves tons of calories by not having to use butter or crisco to avoid sticking. It can also be used in place of oil in pans. 
Whole Wheat flour
Brown Sugar
Because I bake for others a lot I always have all purpose flour and white sugar on hand as well.

My go-to Produce...
HUGE bags of Spinach and Broccoli from Costco. Apples, baby carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, cherub tomatoes, cuties, zucchini, yellow squash, whichever berries are cheapest!

Hopefully that is somewhat helpful! And now for the recipe:

Healthy Zucchini Bread 
(Recipe makes two loaves)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 cups zucchini (grated or pureed in food processor)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups wheat flour (The wheat flour makes it VERY dense. If you don't like that consistancy you may want to use 1/2 wheat flour 1/2 all purpose flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
*I do want to note that if you like your breads really sweet you may want to add 1/4-1/2 cup more of brown sugar to the recipe, or add some agave/honey/splenda. It would also be tasty with some chocolate chips mixed in!

Mix together applesauce, brown sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and almond extract. Add dry ingredients. Mix in zucchini. Pour into two sprayed loaf pans, and sprinkle the tops with brown sugar. Bake at 350 for 40-45 mins. (You can use the toothpick method here.)

Nutrition Facts: Per one slice (Dividing each loaf into 10 slices)
I think it's pretty dang tasty!

What are some of your fridge/pantry staples? Do you find that you panic when these items start to run out? It is amazing how we get so used to our go-to items! Do you like zucchini bread? I LOVE it!


Rene said...

Staples - oatmeal, whole wheat (I grind into flour), Diet DP, bananas, protien powder, peanut butter.
I am so exited that I found Crystal Light pure packets that are flavored with Truvia and have only 3g of sugar.
I haven't had zuccini bread since I was a kid. I will be fixing that this week.

Katy said...

Mine is always fresh strawberries/blueberries/raspberries.I spent a FORTUNE on those every week in Hawaii, but I love them sooooooo much, it was worth it to me. Plus, they're healthy, so it wasn't like I spending a fortune on cookies. Haha.

janetha @ meals and moves said...

i loveeee zucchini bread. those stats are dynamite! i need to whip up some healthified baked goods soon. hope you have an awesome week, megan!! xo

Julia said...

This post was made me feel pretty good that I had a lot of the things you listed but also gave me some new ideas. I am excited!

My go to things are bananas, baby carrots, peanut butter...when these things are out...I minorly freak out. I have not had zucchini bread in forever but that recipe looks delicious and I am probably going to have to try it very soon.

p.s. the sesame chicken turned out perfect if I do say so myself :) fro-yo soon?

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

I love any kind of bread with veggies hidden in! Sneaky and delicious! Great recipe girl. Hope you had a great weekend too.

Julie said...

I love love love zucchini bread...or zucchini muffins.

My favorite cake my mom makes is a zucchini cake with chocolate chips in it. I think it also has mayo or miracle whip in it (shhhhh....) to make it SO VERY MOIST!

Kiley said...

oooOO! Thanks for the recipe. I'm a fan of Zucchini Bread!!

Jody, RD said...

Staples - pretty much everything you mentioned + String cheese.

Baking - Unsweetened applesauce and over-ripe bananas in the freezer - great for substituting fats in recipes.

whitney said...

THANK YOU! Thanks so much for taking the time to post all this. It's so so helpful, and with spring just around the corner, zucchini bread will follow. Thank you, Megan!

marathonmaiden said...

i've never had zucchini bread before. some of my staples are oats, ob, bananas, apples, yogurt, aaaaaaaaand i'm sure there's way more but those are the stuff that i eat everyday multiple times a day

ashley & sundance said...

That zuchini bread looks AMAZING!!! I need to make that! I love the grocery list... it's a good reminder... i need to go to the store and pick up some more essentials.

melissadishes said...

The zucchini bread looks SO good. I am drooling.

I gave up Gluten for Lent to see if I could and to see if it would help my health problems. Its HARD!

I think i'll use your staples question for a topic for my Thursday blog. Thanks for the idea (ps, we keep alot of the same things, lol!)

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

LOVE THIS!!! It makes me so happy to see your essentials. Cinnamon is my goes on everything:) Popcorn, yep.....nut butters yep. I need to move in with you and enjoy your Sunday baking! Hope you are having a great day gorgeous girl!

Stefanie D. said...

Yummy! It looks so good! I always have to have diced tomatoes/tuna/every flavor beans/corn/green beans/canned fruit in my pantry at all times.

Edible Art said...

ooh yum!
zucchini bread, is something ive yet to try.. thanks for the recipe (:

Jen said...

I liked your list! I am glad to see that my fridge/pantry/freezer has lots of that stuff in it. All except the nut butters. My kids would burn through that stuff so fast it's not even funny. And it's just too expensive. So Nutella is a treat at my house!

Jessica and Reecey said...

Can I just move in with you? I always love reading your food posts because I swear on my life we are the same person when it comes to eating -- except when I'm pregnant, because I like gross food when I'm pregnant.

Your blog is one of my favorites.
Just thought you should know!

Unprofessional said...

Looks delicious! My staples are peanut butter, ketchup, and chocolate cheerios. If that's all I have, I raid my boyfriend's fridge to fill in the necessary supplementary foods....bread, eggs or chicken nuggets (yeah, I eat like a 6 year old), and milk.

Dan.Eliot said...

While everyone can use frugal cooking tips, no one needs to cut back on food costs more than a mom. When you have kids to feed, it becomes even more important that you provide them with cheap, nutritious food. Gone are the days when ramen noodles could sustain you for months . . . now you need healthy food on a tight budget!

Healthy cooking tips