Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

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Yummy, yummy, yummy!  Summer is coming to a close, fall is getting close which means the season of everything pumpkin is right around the corner!!!  This is great news not only for our tastebuds, but also for nutrition!  Pumpkin is great for you and has lots of vitamins and minerals!

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Notice that the pin revolves around pumpkin and the immune system?  Another great thing about pumpkin season is that it coincides with the beginning of the dreaded cold and flu season.  It’s great, because pumpkin is excellent for the immune system!  Yay!

Okay, so we know pumpkin is good for us, but let’s talk about the taste!  It’s delicious!!  A lot of pumpkin treats this time of year are baked goods, and a lot of baked goods means a lot of gluten.  If you’re one of the individuals that avoids gluten, this could mean bad news for you.  However, in addition to this pumpkin bread recipe being moist and delicious, it’s also gluten free!!!  Double yay!  Another plus is that it’s super easy to make…just a few ingredients in a blender or food processor into a bread pan and into the oven.  Wa-la, pumpkin goodness!

Before we get to the recipe, I do want to mention that after making this basic recipe, I realized that next time I would probably add chopped walnuts and raisins for sure.  This recipe is fantastic as is, but add-ins, such as raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, coconut, or chopped nuts of your choice, are completely fine and definitely something to keep in mind!

GLUTEN FREE PUMPKIN BREAD

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (I used maple syrup)
  • 15-ounce can organic pumpkin puree (make sure the can lining is BPA free)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or combine 1 1/2 tsp. worth of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)

Directions

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a bread pan with parchment paper (as shown – this will come in handy when taking the bread loaf out of the pan after baking).  Lightly grease the pan and paper.

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2.) Add the oats to a food processor or blender and process on high until it reaches a consistency of gritty flour.

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3.) Add the rest of the ingredients to the oats in the food processor and process on high until completely combined and smooth.

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4.) Poor the batter into the prepared bread pan and bake in the oven for 33-35 minutes.  Take the bread out of the oven and poke a toothpick in the center of the bread.  If the toothpick comes out clean, allow the bread to cool in the pan.  If not, cover the top of the bread with aluminum foil (this will protect the top from getting burnt while the inside is cooking completely) and place back in the oven for 3 minute increments until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Let the bread cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.

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5.) Remove the bread from the pan and use a knife to cut into slices.

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6.) Transfer slices to a plate and serve.

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You’re going to love this stuff!  So good and so good for you!  Happy pumpkin season!  Enjoy! 🙂

Tips for Running in the Heat

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Alright, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I am a Michigan gal, and I do not like hot weather!!!  We’ve now been in San Antonio for a year, and I’ve come to realize that there are basically three seasons here hot, too hot, and miserable.  Okay, but I’m not here to complain.  San Antonio has plenty of other things to offer.  It’s just this dang weather that makes it fairly unbearable for a cold weather girl like myself.

Anyway, at least us getting assigned here has forced me to do some training in REALLY hot weather, and because of that, I’ve got a collection of tips that I’ve figured out to help when the sun is trying to melt me during my runs!  Growing up in Michigan, I’m a pro when it comes to cold weather running tips, but now I get to share with all of you what I’ve learned  here so that you can still lace up and get out there despite the searing heat.  That being said, when temps reach over 100, personally, I think it’s better to just go for a hike or to run on a treadmill.  No sense in causing yourself to become ill for a single run – that’s nonsense!

Okay, but for you hard core runners who really want to get out there even when the thermometer tells you to stay inside in the air conditioning, I have found some things to help, so let’s get to them!

1.) Stay Hydrated – duh!

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If you’re a runner, or really anyone who knows the importance of health, you know how important it is to stay hydrated.  When you go for a run, you sweat, and that means fluid loss.  When it’s hot outside, that fluid loss is magnified tremendously.  Thus, it’s important to make sure you are taking in enough fluid to prevent dehydration and keep your body functioning at optimal performance.  To do this, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water before your run, during your run, and after your run.  The before and after is easy, but what about during?

When it comes to staying hydrated during a run, of course, you can always carry a water bottle with you.  However, this isn’t always ideal.  When it’s really hot out, I usually do one of two things.  One, I run in areas in which I can map out different places that I can stop and get a quick drink of water at a drinking fountain.  Two, I map out my course, and then drive it and drop off water along the way at different points.  Of course, the second takes a bit longer, but it’s worth it in the long run…pun intended. 🙂

2.) Run in the morning or late at night.

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Obviously, the weather is always cooler in the morning.  Of course, if you’re like me and are not a morning person (at all), you could also opt for running late in the evening when the sun has gone down.  Without that hot sun beating down on you, it is much easier not to overheat.  It’s still cooler in the morning than in the evening, but by changing the timing of your run to one of these two options, you can more easily beat the heat.

3.) Slow Down!

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I know it sounds odd to say “slow down” when it comes to training, but when it’s hot outside, it’s your best bet.  Running by itself is exhausting.  Running in extreme heat is even more exhausting.  When temperatures are high, try to reduce your pace accordingly.  A good rule of thumb is for every 10 degrees it is over 75, reduce your running pace by 45-60 seconds per mile.  In doing this, you will still get a great workout in, and you won’t be forced to stop due to heat exhaustion.  When it comes to heat, slow and steady wins the race!

4.) Dress (or undress) accordingly

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Me at the finish of a race in which it was 85 degrees at the start!

When temperatures are high, don’t be shy!  Cute, huh?  I just made that up!  But, it’s true!  When it’s hot outside, wearing minimal clothing can be extremely helpful.  What you do wear should be light in color and loose fitting if possible.  Hats and sunglasses are really helpful too!

Have you ever heard of the Badwater Marathon?  Temperatures at that race are well above 100 degrees.  In all of the pictures I’ve seen of runners of this race, they are always wearing a lot of white, and their clothes are very loose.  Almost all of them are wearing white hats with flaps along both sides and sunglasses.  Dark colors attract heat, and tight clothing can trap sweat and heat causing you to tire more quickly.  So, don’t be shy – when running in the heat, less is best!

5.) Sunscreen is a must!

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In the summer months (or all year round if you live in a place like San Antonio), when you are heading out for a nice long run, sunscreen is imperative!  That being said, most store bought sunscreens have a lot of very harmful ingredients in them, but don’t worry!  Fortunately, I’ve got a fantastic DIY non-toxic recipe for sunscreen lotion, so you can whip up a batch of this and slather it on before your run, and you’re good to go!  Make sure to remember your lips too!  Use a good SPF lip balm to protect your smile!

6.) Ice cubes can be a life-saver!

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When it’s hot outside, some strategically placed ice cubes can really help to keep you cool! You can wrap some ice cubes in a bandana and wrap the bandana around your neck, or wrap it around your wrists or even ankles.  I will usually stick a few ice cubes in my sports bra or headband (if I’m wearing one) before heading out to help keep me cool.  Really anywhere you can put one where it will be held in place is good!

7.) Plan your running route accordingly

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The last hot weather running tip I have for you has to do with where you run.  It’s no secret that black roads and asphalt attract and give off heat.  Because of this, it is a good idea to try to run on surfaces other than these.  Running in the grass is good, and trail running is great in the hot summer months, because it provides a cooler surface, and there is usually lots of shade, which is another thing to consider when planning your route.  Try to find routes that are as shaded as possible – the less sun the better when it’s super hot outside!

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As you can see, you don’t have to let the heat completely ruin your running routine.  With a few adjustments here and there, you can continue to train even when it’s hot outside.  As I said though, use common sense!  If temps or the heat index is above 100 degrees, it may be a better idea to hit the treadmill in the air conditioning or cross train.

Happy Running! 🙂

TIPS FOR RUNNING IN THE COLD

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I remember in college, my track coach used to say that running in the elements is like running with weights on, and then come race day, you get to take the weights off.  I like that.  With the weather getting colder and winter approaching, I thought this would be the perfect time to share some cold weather running tips!

Growing up in Michigan, we never had a shortage of snow, ice, and frigid cold temperatures in the winter.  This allowed me to really learn to enjoy running in this type of weather, and also forced me to find tons of different tips and tricks for running when it seems like it’s just too friggin cold to get out the door!

Usually late autumn/early winter is about the time that many runners decide to hang up their running shoes till springtime.  The downside to this is that running doesn’t like to be neglected for extended periods of time!  Come March when you lace up again, you will quickly regret the time off based on how your body feels after time away!  Anybody that has ever had an injury or just taken an extended period of time off knows this well.  When you attempt to come back, it hurts, and on top of that, it takes quite a while for it to start feeling good again!  I’m going to discuss some tips for running in cold weather here in hopes that it will help many of you avoid this terrible effect of time away from running, and continue to run through the winter season.

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1.)  First and foremost, DRESS APPROPRIATELY! It helps to dress in layers. Wearing several thin layers of clothing helps trap warm air between each layer keeping you much warmer than if you were to wear one heavy layer. That being said, you also don’t want to overheat while running – this is extremely unpleasant, and yes, it is possible in cold weather.  A good rule of thumb is to dress as though it is about 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is.  If you are a bit chilly before you start running, don’t worry, you will warm up as you go!

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2.) You may want to RETHINK YOUR SHOES.  In the winter, less mesh is more!  Good winter running shoes will help keep the warmth in and the snow, sleet and slush out.  You want to look for something that is waterproof to keep your feet dry, yet still breathable.  Another thing you may want to consider are Yaktrax.  These can provide traction when running in the snow and ice, and allow you to continue your training during the winter with the same stability you are accustomed to on dry surfaces.

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3.) On the subject of feet, it is also important to LAYER YOUR SOCKS.  This goes along with #1.  Wearing two pairs of socks keeps your feet warmer and drier than one heavy pair.  That being said, never wear cotton socks in the cold and wet weather.  You want a sock made out of some sort of wicking fabric to keep moisture out and warmth in.

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4.) There is nothing that will ruin a run faster than frostbit fingers, so it is a good idea to GET HANDWARMERS.  This is a must for me.  Before discovering hand warmers, I can’t tell you how many times I would go out for a run and end up so miserable because my hands literally hurt due to the cold.  Anyone that has had this happen to them knows that once this happens, it’s nearly impossible to think about anything else, let alone enjoy your run.

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5.) It’s extremely important to STAY HYDRATED.  When it’s cold out, you won’t feel like you need to take in as much water as you do when it’s warmer out, but you do!  You can dehydrate in cold weather just as much as you can dehydrate in warm weather, so use your camel back, water belt, hand bottle…whatever it is that you use to bring hydration on a run – bring it!

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6.) It is a good idea to try to COVER AS MUCH OF YOUR SKIN AS POSSIBLE.  You will lose most your heat from any exposed skin, so you want to stay covered.  This means gloves and something on your head are extremely important.  Personally, I prefer mittens over gloves – these are great for holding my hand warmers and I find that keeping my fingers where they can touch each other helps them to stay warm.  Make sure to cover your ears.  Ears can get frostbite very easily, and if this happens, you’ll be sorry.  Wear a running hat or a headband that fully covers your ears.

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7.) When it’s windy out, it is a good idea to wear a waterproof windbreaker as your top layer.  This will keep warmth in while keeping cold out.  If your dressed inappropriately, you will feel that wind blow right through you – brrrr!  No thanks!

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8.) STAY MOTIVATED by signing up for a mid winter race.  This will give you a reason to keep training even though it is cold out.  I love winter races – they’re tons of fun and quite cozy if you ask me!

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9.) When running in cold weather, it is important to STAY SAFE.  You can do this in a number of ways.  Always tell someone when you are going for a run.  Let them know your route and give them an estimated time frame on when you should be back.  Make sure to wear reflective running gear if you are out after dark (this is important since it gets dark quite early in the winter).  Rather than running a long loop, run shorter loops and do more of them when it’s nasty outside.  By doing this, if you start to get frostbite, or you slip on a patch of ice, you are closer to home where you can remedy the situation.  Make sure to carry your cell phone, ID, and some cash in case of emergency.

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10.) BE CAREFUL WHEN ROUNDING CORNERS!  I remember in grad school, I was out for a wintery evening run (I went to grad school at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, so LOTS of snow, ice and cold).  I was rounding a corner just off campus where there was a line of people waiting to get into a bar.  I hit a patch of ice and down I went smacking my bum really hard on the pavement!  I was SO embarrassed, and of course, I got a few “I give it a 10” calls.  Thankfully the bruise I had on my bum was smaller than the bruise that my pride took, but lesson learned I suppose!  Take it easy on the corners!

Nobody likes to take time away from running, and by implementing these tips, winter won’t cause you to have to!  You will find that as long as you can keep yourself comfortable, running in the winter with the peaceful snow and the beautiful scenery can actually be quite enjoyable .  At any rate, no excuses – gear up, lace up, and get out the door!  Happy running! 🙂

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5K FOR APOLLO

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This is a pin of my all time favorite quote.  It is by William Penn, and I try to live my life by it.  A few days ago, I saw a friend of mine’s post on Facebook about her son, Apollo.  Apollo is one of the sweetest, strongest, and most incredible kids you will ever meet.  He’s been handed some challenges in life as he was born with Ichthyosis and also suffers from Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and Encopresis (lack of bowel control), but he keeps smiling and remains an inspiration despite his pain and suffering.  Here is a picture of this amazing boy.

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His mom (an equally incredible woman) set up a page on Facebook called “Apollo’s Creed” to give friends and family a chance to donate to help her provide the best and most comfortable life possible for him.  In the about section she writes

“My son Apollo was born 4/20/05 a preemie with Ichthyosis, a rare skin disorder characterized by dry scaling skin that may be thickened or very thin. Ichthyosis causes complications like dehydration, infections, chronic blistering, overheating, and rapid-calorie loss. It was unexpected and shocking to the staff and myself to see a baby almost skinned alive. He could barely wear clothes the first year of life. Due to also being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Autism he did not start walking or talking till almost 4. He also suffers from Encopresis (lack of bowel control) at 9 years old he still wears a diaper at all times. I was a single working mom missing weeks and months of work to be with Apollo. When he turned 7 I left the workforce to become his fulltime caretaker. Any one of these 4 diagnosis is hard enough on a child and Apollo got hit with a quad whammie. When he is comfortable in his own skin he is the most amazing, sweetest, helpful kid ever. He is loved by all. My goal as a parent is to provide him with the best climate to make his skin manageable. We have visited dry climates, hot climates, cold climates and humid climates. Last winter we were fortunate enough to spend 3 weeks in Hawaii over x-mas and New Years. It was the best he has ever felt and looked. Since then, he has been begging to move there so he can be a “new boy”. Until recently I had a plan, a place and a future set to move there. But things fell apart. I promised him the moon and didn’t deliver. Please help “Apollo’s Creed” to be a “new boy” and have a chance to live in comfort on the outside, so we can concentrate on the other 3 internal issues he has going on inside.” 

To learn more about Ichthyosis, click on the following pin:

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It’s always been my philosophy that if a friend, family member, or anyone for that matter asks for help, then you help…you do whatever you can do to help.  I donated, but I wanted to do more, so I decided I would run a 5K to raise money for this little guy.  I told my husband about it and about Apollo’s story, and he immediately wanted to help too (see why I love him so much!), so he is going to do the 5K for Apollo as well.

Sometimes, the problems in this world seem to be so many, and I feel so small and wonder how I can make a difference, and I am reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa – “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”  Well, here is a chance for you to “help one person”.

Ways you can help:

  • You can donate to Apollos family by clicking on Apollo’s Donate Page or you can go to Apollo’s GoFundMe Page.  Every dollar counts – there’s no donation that’s too small.
  • After donating, please post a comment on the 5K event page letting us know you donated and how much.  I have an anonymous donor who is willing to match up to $250.00, so I want to keep track of donations!
  • If you wish to remain anonymous, please message me with the amount.
  • You can contact me on Facebook as well anytime.
  • If you would prefer to send a direct donation to me please contact me and I will give you details where to send a check to.
  • If you are unable to give monetarily right now, please consider re-blogging this post, or sharing the 5K event page on your Facebook page.  Please pray for this cause, and tell your friends and family – do whatever you can to help.

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. ~Acts 20:35

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ~Deuteronomy 15:10

Here are some more pictures of Apollo and some pictures of his skin:

Apollo and his mommy – kissing his owies

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Apollo’s side before being bandaged

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Apollo’s elbow

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Apollo’s ear

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Apollo’s leg

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Apollo’s feet

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Bandaged and sleeping

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As always, he’s still got that adorable smile on his face!

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You can donate by clicking on Apollo’s Donate Page or by going to Apollo’s GoFundMe Page.  Let’s help this amazing little guy!  God bless you! ❤

 

PERFECT AUTUMN MEAL – QUINOA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

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I may have come across the perfect autumn meal!  Last time I went grocery shopping, I got some organic butternut squash.  The awesome fall weather we have been having lately inspired me to get some of this yummy fruit that is more commonly used as a vegetable.  The list of health benefits of butternut squash is extensive.  Some of those benefits include the following:

  • helps to boost the immune system – high in vitamin C
  • Great for the heart and the bowels because of it’s high fiber content
  • aids in blood sugar regulation
  • contains five B vitamins (B1, B3, B6, folate, pantothenic acid), thus is great for the nervous system
  • excellent for eye health
  • full of antioxidants helping to prevent lung, colon, breast, and prostate cancers
  • reduces inflammation
  • helps control cholesterol levels and helps with weight management
  • contains adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus

On top of all that, it is great for your tastebuds, because it is DELICIOUS!  I went on Pinterest to get some different ideas for meals incorporating this squash, and this pin jumped out at me:

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Just the presentation of this dish screams “AUTUMN IS HERE”!  I made a few minor changes to the recipe here. Instead of using dried cranberries (which are often filled with sugars), I used fresh ones, and I just roasted them right along with the squash.  Doing this basically gave me “oven dried” cranberries with that yummy tangy flavor without all the extra sugar.  I added brussels sprouts just because it sounded yummy in my head (good decision, because it was delish!)  Instead of making the maple vinaigrette, I just used a mixture of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, stevia, and sea salt.  I also left out the pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), but this was an accident (Oops!).  I just forgot to add them, but the dish still turned out wonderful.  This meal is PERFECT for a cozy autumn afternoon or evening.  I think it would also be great with some roasted chicken added in.  It’s easy, healthy, filling, and so so tasty!

QUINOA WITH ROASTED SQUASH, CRANBERRIES, AND BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Ingredients: amount of each ingredient is up to you

  • Butternut Squash, cut into bite size cubes
  • Brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • Fresh cranberries cut in half
  • quinoa
  • nutmeg
  • apple cider vinegar
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • stevia

Directions

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.) Chop the butternut squash, brussel sprouts and cranberries.  Put in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with nutmeg, stevia, and sea salt.  Toss to coat.

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3.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the squash, sprouts and cranberries onto baking sheet evenly.

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4.) Roast in oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

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5.) While the squash is roasting, prepare your quinoa as directed on the package.  When done, drizzle with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.  Sprinkle with a bit of stevia and sea salt.

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6.) When the squash is done, mix with the quinoa and serve.

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Happy Autumn! Enjoy! 🙂

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NOODLE FREE VEGGIE FULL LASAGNA

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Look what Whole Foods FINALLY had!

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YAY!  Goat’s milk mozzarella!  Again, I’ll say YAY!  I have been asking them for this all summer, so imagine my delight this last grocery shopping trip when they said they had it!  It couldn’t have come at a better time, because I really wanted to try this lasagna recipe inspired by the following pin:

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I followed the same basic ideas of this recipe, making some changes here and there.  I used my own homemade sauce (recipe here), and I cut out the parmesan cheese and made my own version of ricotta cheese using goat cheese.  It turned out SO yummy!!!  It tasted exactly like lasagna with noodles, so I promise you won’t miss the noodles in this.  It’s really quite easy to make, and with all the veggies in it, it’s quite good for you!  I think this would also be really good with some ground turkey in the sauce, but today wasn’t a meat day for me, so I just stuck with the veggies.  I LOVE lasagna, so I get really excited when I have a recipe that is healthy and still tastes amazing!  Happy dance! 🙂

NOODLE FREE VEGGIE FULL LASAGNA

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of homemade sauce (recipe here)
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/2 Tbsp. dried italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup shredded goat’s milk mozzarella cheese ❤
  • 2 zucchini’s sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 1 yellow squash sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups chopped kale

Directions:

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2.) Prepare your sauce.  You can use any sauce or sauce recipe you would like, but I really like my homemade sauce.

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3.) In a bowl, combine the 8oz. of goat cheese, 2 eggs, chopped red onion, italian seasoning and fresh basil.  Mix until smooth.

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4.) In a lasagna pan, layer the ingredients as follows:

  1. 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom
  2. layer of zucchini and squash noodles
  3. spread 1/2 of the goat cheese mixture on top of the zucchini and squash
  4. layer of another 1/3 of the tomato sauce
  5. layer of zucchini and squash noodles
  6. spread the other 1/2 of the goat cheese mixture on top of the zucchini and squash
  7. layer of the spinach and kale
  8. layer of the last of the tomato sauce
  9. top with the goat’s milk mozzarella cheese.

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5.) Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

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6.) Allow to sit in pan for 10-15 minutes to cool a bit, then cut into pieces and serve.

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Ta-da!  Healthy delicious noodle free lasagna!  Enjoy! 🙂

BLACK BEAN AND QUINOA SALAD BOWL

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the combination of avocado, cilantro, and lime is one of my favorites!  A little while back, I posted one of my recipes containing these ingredients on Facebook, and one of my friends said she wanted to try it with black beans added to it.  Oh, YUM! I hadn’t thought of that.  Black beans are great for you!  They have health benefits including cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, regulating digestive issues, helps balance blood sugar, high in molybdenum which aids in breaking down and detoxifying sulfites, great for nervous system health, and they are high in folate making them great for prenatal health.

Today for lunch, I decided I wanted to have something light like a salad, but this combination was dancing around in my head.  I went on Pinterest and found this pin for black bean salad.

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Looks SO yummy!  I’m not a big fan of corn, so I knew I didn’t want anything with corn in it, so I just used the idea of a black bean salad and knew I also wanted avocado, cilantro and lime.  The result was a simple black bean and quinoa salad bowl.

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BLACK BEAN AND QUINOA SALAD BOWL

Ingredients: 1 serving

  • 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup black beans, cooked and rinsed
  • 1/2 salad tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped red onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

1.) Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lime juice and sea salt.  Set aside.

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2.) Put all ingredients in a bowl, and top with the dressing.

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Super easy.  Super healthy.  Super delicious.  Enjoy!