Don't let the blueberries fool you…there's chocolate in this blog.

Have you ever felt sleepy after eating a big pasta dish? That’s your body reacting to the overload of carbohydrates and sugar it just ingested.  Pasta made from regular white flour and even whole wheat flour both have the same negative effect on your blood glucose levels, sending them skyrocketing only to have them crash a short time later (hence the need for a nap!).   A great way of getting a huge serving of healthy green veggies in with your dinner, this fresh zucchini “pasta” will have you fooled into thinking you’re eating the real thing, except instead of empty calories, each bite will be supplying you with loads of essential vitamins and nutrients.  Just check out the amazing nutrition profile of this delicious summer veggie.

The sweet Italian style chicken sausage gives the dish the perfect kick of flavor, and hearty fresh marinara blends the flavors together wonderfully.

Start with fresh organic zucchini and julienne it using a peeler like this one.  A regular vegetable peeler will work too if you want more fettuccine-like ribbon style pasta, but I will say this tool has become my favorite tool to use in the kitchen.  I think it’s definitely worth the purchase!

1. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Pour in 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

2. Once oil is heated, add 2 tsp. minced garlic.  Saute garlic for approx. 1 minute. 

3. Add zucchini to pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute, tossing frequently for approx. 2-4 minutes, until softened but not mushy. It should have the consistency of al dente pasta. 

4. Remove from heat and drain excess water. 

5. Add another Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and brown your sausage.  I use Al Fresco Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, but you can use whatever variety you want. 

 

6. Top with your favorite tomato sauce.  My current favorite is Wegmans Organic Chunky Marinara.  It has no sugar in it, and tastes fabulous!

6.  Toss in the browned chicken sausage, and sprinkle with a good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

7. DIG IN!

Do you have inventive ways of using vegetables in your dinner recipes? I’d love to hear from you!

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Melting Chocolate

I am sure to be sharing recipes that involve dipping things in chocolate, so I’m posting this so that I can link back to it in future chocolate dipping posts for reference.  After all, since I plan on using chocolate liberally what better place to start than to show you how to melt the stuff? The good news is it doesn’t involve any fancy equipment like double boilers or fancy terms like “tempering”.  All you need is a bowl, a microwave, and of course a spoon to lick!

My normal go-to when it comes to chocolate is Green & Blacks, but a new favorite of mine is Equal Exchange dark chocolate, not just because it tastes delicious but because it is fair trade and supports small farmers.  Always go for dark chocolate that is at least  70% cacao to enjoy the health benefits . I’m able to enjoy up to an 85% bar– anything higher than that is a bit too much, even for me!

Break the bar into small, even sized pieces and place in a microwave safe container that won’t get too hot with repeated microwaving.

Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir.  Continue microwaving in 15 second increments– you may be tempted to go longer– don’t! Stir after each time.  Your chocolate will start to look like this– this is good.  Keep going!

You will start to notice as it gets to be almost ready that the bowl gets warm.  Eventually you will just be able to stir the remaining “chunks” for a couple of minutes and the warmth of the bowl will melt it the rest of the way.  It is very important that you do not heat for too long or the chocolate will seize, and then you might as well throw it away– which we NEVER want to see happen!

Your finished product should be smooth and shiny.  Now, go find something like frozen banana pieces or other fruit like blueberries or strawberries, or even nuts and get dipping!!

It’s summer, and there is nothing better than fresh vegetables on the grill.  I normally use whatever I have on hand (which is normally whatever the local farmer’s market has to sell), and so tonight it’s vidalia onions, carrots, and zucchini.   Very simple to prepare– just toss in olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper, and grill.  Grilling vegetables brings out their natural sweetness with caramelization.  Preparing them this way works with just about any vegetable you can think of.

Next, prepare your steaks by sprinkling them with garlic salt, and fresh ground pepper.  Grass fed beef is so tasty, you don’t need to coat it with marinades or rubs.  It doesn’t even need steak sauce, it’s so good! If you don’t know why grass fed beef is better for you, read here.

What are your favorite veggies to grill?

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