Summer Squash Noodle Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

The alternate title for this recipe:  Summer in a Bowl.  What you have here is the best summer has to offer in one delicious bowl, ready to be eaten in less than 15 minutes.  You are welcome.

You will feel 10,000 times healthier after finishing this bowl of summer goodness. I promise you.  Eat this for lunch and you can walk around for the rest of the day all smug like because you consumed all the vegetables in one sitting.  And it tasted good.  Not just “Oh I’m eating my vegetables and these aren’t too bad” good.  Like, really good.  Authentically good.  You want to polish off five servings good.

Don’t take my word for it.  Make this salad and you won’t be sorry.  It won’t take you long.  Do you have a julienne slicer yet?  If not, buy this one immediately.  It took me four minutes to prep the “noodles” for this salad.  At $9.95, it was one of my best kitchen purchases in a long time.  You’ll love it and you’ll love this salad, too.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Salad Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , , | 16 Comments  

Vegan Blueberry Oat Bars

If you are looking for a bar recipe that uses fresh fruit and can pass as dessert, a snack, or breakfast, this is your recipe.

These healthy bars are both vegan and gluten-free if you use certified gluten-free oats.  The best part is that they are a snap to whip up.  Easy, healthy recipes that make everyone in my family happy are my favorite kind.

The ingredients are simple and let the blueberries shine.  These bars are lightly sweet, but definitely not the kind of sweet that leaves you feeling icky afterwards.  Does anyone else feel that way after eating something too sweet?

I use agave nectar as a sweetener here.  I like it because it has a more neutral flavor than some other liquid sweeteners like maple syrup or honey.  You can use either of those here, but the flavor profile will change slightly.

There’s a lot of controversy about whether agave nectar is a healthy sweetener.  I’ve done my research and feel that, like other sweeteners, it’s acceptable in moderation.  I don’t think any sweetener is good for you, especially if you use too much.  I do think there is a lot of misinformation out there about agave nectar; you really have to be a scrupulous, discerning reader before you come to your own conclusion about this sweetener.  You can’t believe every sensationalized article you come across before verifying the details.

Sorry about that little tangent, but I know at least one person will question my use of agave nectar, so I figured I’d answer the questions before they come in.  Enough of that, though, how about we get to the recipe?!

 

 

Have a great week, friends!

 

 

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Posted in Breakfast Recipes, Dessert recipes, Snack Recipes, Toddler Eats, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments  

Fitness Friday: Keep On Keepin’ On

Summa summa summa time!  How’s your summer time fitness coming? I haven’t done a Fitness Friday post in a while, so this is going to be a catch-up post. Summer time is a hard time for me to stay in a routine in general, but this summer’s been especially difficult.  We’ve had a lot of short trips, coupled with visits from grandparents and random activities that have made it tough to stay on a regular schedule.  That makes fitness more challenging for me.  I thrive on schedules and routines.  Even though it’s been tough, I’m happy to say that I’ve kept up my fitness pretty well over these summer months.

It only takes four days to get out of shape.

Have you heard that before?  Somewhere along the line a coach hammered that into my brain.  Strangely, I can’t remember which coach it was, but those words have never left me.  So, is it true?  I’m not sure.

What I do know is that when we went to Michigan over the Fourth of July we were gone for five days and working out just didn’t happen.  When I got home, I couldn’t wait to get back into it.  (When I do get into a good fitness groove, I crave it like crazy and just feel off when I don’t workout for a period of time.) It took me a few days, though, to feel like I was back where I was when I left.  So while I don’t think I was completely out of shape, those days off certainly did set me back some.  I guess there was some truth to that coach’s words.  What do you think?

Remember my Summer Fitness Bucket List?  I’m checking things off!

My way of checking things off is to turn the line into a ray of sunshine (get it?  It’s  a #summerfitnessbucketlist in the shape of a sun!) and color it in.  Here’s what I’ve checked off so far:

-Run a hill workout.

-Run 6 miles

-Do <1 speed workout on a track.

-Complete a 30 day Plank Challenge (started it…I’ll color it in when I complete it)

I posted the hill workout I did on my Facebook page, but if you didn’t see it, here it is:

I still have a lot of things to check off before summer ends, but I will do it!

I haven’t run in a road race yet, but I did run in a track meet.  Yep, I sure did.  When I went to the local high school track to do a speed workout, there was an older man doing a speed workout at the same time.  We got to talking and he told me about summer track meets that were held at another local high school that were open to everyone.  This man was in his 60′s and had competed in the senior olympics as a sprinter.  He was 5th in the world in the 100 meter dash! How inspiring is that?  Well, he inspired me to show up at one of the track meets.

I showed up feeling so weird about being there.  It brought me back to high school and college–the smells, the atmosphere, everything.  The only difference was that there were all ages here: the youngest competitor was probably 5 years old and the oldest was in the 60-70 year old range.  With much trepidation, I signed up for the 100 meter dash and the 400 meter dash.  I was in no way prepared to run either of these races, but I thought I could treat it as a speed workout.

I wish I could report that I did amazingly well and am just as fast as I was when I was in college.  Ummm….no.  In high school I ran the 100 in 12.33 and while I didn’t run the 100 in college, I did it as part of the 4X100 relay and clocked a 12.00 in those years.  I’m almost embarrassed to tell you my 100 meter time as a 36-year-old.  I was the oldest woman competing in the 100, the next oldest woman was 25.  The other woman in my heat was in her low 20′s (I didn’t talk to her like I did the other woman, so that’s a guess)  Aaaand both of those women beat me.  I had a great start (the picture above shows the track marks on my knee after the race…) but couldn’t sustain my top speed very long.  I finished in 14.24! Aaaaahhhh almost 2 seconds slower than my high school time and more than 2 seconds slower than college.

After the 100 a thunder storm started and the rest of the meet was cancelled so I didn’t get to do the 400.  Saved by the storm! If nothing else, participating in the meet motivated me to get some speed back.  It’s hard when I’m running longer distances, but I would love to work on my speed more.

I realize this post is more ramble-y than usual, but I just wanted to give you all an update on how this summer’s fitness is going.  We have a week-long vacation coming up and I’m motivated to do some workouts at the beach! How’s your summer fitness coming along?

 

 

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The Anniversary Post

Yesterday, Tim and I celebrated 8 years of marriage.  We were able to get away for one night to have some alone time and celebrate our love.  We returned to the same place we went on our anniversary when I was pregnant with Luke.  Ohio isn’t exactly known for its scenic hiking, but there are a few places that are like hidden gems among the mundane landscape that makes up much of this state.

I think it’s important to have time to spend with just your spouse, so we try to get away for a night every year on our anniversary.  We’re blessed to have family that are willing to stay with our kids so we can have that crucial time to reconnect.

After 8 years of marriage, I’ve learned that marriage isn’t easy, but that’s okay.  None of the good, valuable things in life are easy, right?

I’ve also learned that going through life with your best friend is a wonderful thing and I never forget how blessed I am to be married to someone I truly enjoy spending time with.

As with any marriage, we have our days when we are living in a bit of a haze.  Life with kids, work, and a myriad of responsibilities can be draining.

One night away was just what we needed.  We stayed in a cabin with no television and no cell phone service.  No distractions.  We had a quiet, long dinner and then a night where not one child’s little voice called “Mommy!” despite the rain that fell all night long.  (Tell me my five-year-old isn’t the only one afraid of thunder storms?)

Then we hiked, and went home.  An abbreviated trip, yes, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my anniversary.

And I definitely could not ask for a better man to spend my life with.  Here’s to 8X8 more years!

I’ll be back with recipes and the such soon.  I hope everyone is having a great week!

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Posted in Life | 8 Comments  

Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Tomato Bake

This recipe is for all you green thumbs out there who have a garden bursting with summer vegetables.

I can’t include myself in that group.  My thumb is so brown, it’s almost black.  I started a container garden on our patio this year.  Nothing elaborate, just a few herbs and some green beans that Meghan planted at school and gave me for Mother’s Day.  The container garden I was so hopeful for is about 90 percent dead right now.

The kicker is I really am not sure why.  It could have just as easily been lack of water as too much water.  I tried to water them enough, but we did have two long weekends away consecutively.  But then again, we’ve gotten so much rain and some days it’s come down so hard that everything is soaked in a matter of minutes. Maybe the poor plants were drowned.  Can plants drown?  Who knows? Not me.

The green bean plant is the one doing the best; it allowed me to harvest just enough to feed Meghan and Luke a side dish for one meal.

I had grandiose plans of having a large vegetable garden once we owned a house with our own land.  Now, the idea of it frightens me.  So much work and what makes me think I’m actually going to be able to keep something alive?  Even my mint is mostly dead and that is supposedly the easily thing to grow on the planet.

For now, I will have to be happy being a part of a community supported agriculture group (CSA) and enjoy my local, organic vegetables delivered to my front door instead of being picked from my backyard.

For anyone local who is reading, I am a part of Fulton Farm’s Happy Box program.  This is my fourth year and we love it.  It’s that time of year when the zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes are plentiful, so I created this Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Tomato bake as an easy side dish to use up a good amount of the lovely summer vegetables.

Most summer vegetable casserole-type dishes I come across use loads of Italian cheeses.  I took this in a little different direction and lightened it up by using a smaller amount of goat cheese.  Goat cheese and thyme is a classic combination that I utilized here and it worked really well.  The result was a lot of flavor, but the overall dish was not heavy at all.  Give this one a try; I think you’ll enjoy it!

 

 

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Posted in Dinner Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments