Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

The summer is fast approaching and fresh zucchini and blueberry bushes are starting to bloom at the local farms. My garden isn’t really big enough for zucchini so I tend to get them from friends or farm stands. There are so many meals and baked goods to make with zucchini. I love that it’s mild in flavor with low calories and can be used as a substitute for pasta on occasion. Blueberries are another fruit that’s showing up at our farm stands as well and who can’t resist some fresh big blueberries? My little guy calls them “bluebears” and it’s simply adorable.  

When I was younger my nana used to bring us blueberry picking every year. She made sure we got the biggest ones and our buckets were full to the brim. Then we’d go back to her cute house in the woods and eat a big bowl of blueberries, milk and sugar. Yup- it was the best. I thankfully got to bring my youngest son blueberry picking with her one summer. Now that she’s passed away, I still make it a point to bring the kids blueberry picking to remember her as well as show them where their food comes from.

Once the blueberry bushes are ready you can bet we’ll be out there picking and making these muffins again! I usually have all of the ingredients on hand so they’re easy to whip up when we’re needing some comfort foods. Maybe this year I’ll let them have her infamous blueberry, milk and sugar treat.

I made these muffins healthier by using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. It takes some density out of the muffins and still makes them taste like they come from a bakery. I don’t like using white sugar so I use coconut sugar and maple syrup to sweeten them up. The banana and coconut oil is a substitute for oil in traditional muffin recipes. Zucchini adds a bit of vitamins and minerals to sneak in there as well. Next time you go blueberry picking, save some for this recipe!

Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (water removed)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix egg, coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract in small bowl.
  3. Grate zucchini and squeeze out liquid.
  4. Add mashed banana and zucchini to wet ingredients above.
  5. In separate bowl mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry and mix.
  7. Add in blueberries and combine.
  8. Line muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil. Spoon mix into cups and bake for 15 minutes.
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Summer Superfood Salad

Summer is right around the corner and I’ve been craving a fresh salad. I recently put together this salad using ingredients I happened to have in my fridge and pantry. Lately I’ve been buying spinach for my greens so I switched it up and went with kale. I used to just use kale in my smoothies until I learned how to “massage” the kale to have it in a salad. It makes it way easier to chew since it softens it up. What a game changer. So much better!

Why is this a “superfood” salad? Let’s discuss real quick. Kale has tons of vitamins, antioxidants, omega 3’s and actually has more calcium per calorie than dairy foods. It’s easy to add to smoothies as well as salads. Now that I’ve been trying to limit dairy, that gives me more reason to eat the kale.

Quinoa is an excellent form of protein which contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein source. It also has iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin E. Quinoa takes less time to cook than rice and has a subtle light flavor.

I consider myself lucky if there are any blueberries left in my fridge for me to eat. My kids looove all kinds of berries so it’s not often that I’m left with any. So when there are some, I like to use them wisely. In this salad is one of those times. Blueberries have plenty of vitamins and minerals and contain antioxidants which are good for fighting disease and supporting the nervous system.

If you’re not eating avocado-why? It’s one of the best healthy fats out there helping support heart health and lower cholesterol. It contains many vitamins, minerals and fiber and helps keep you satiated after a meal. It has a great creaminess to it so I often don’t even use salad dressing when I have avocado. Adding a little sea salt helps bring out the flavor.

Walnuts are rich in folate and contain a good amount of omega 3’s for a healthy fat option. I love the crunch the walnuts give in salads and use them often. Goat cheese is so creamy and goes amazing in not only salads but egg bakes as well. Beets finish off this salad powerhouse with a good source of calcium, magnesium and vitamins C and A.

SO MUCH GOOD STUFF IN THIS SALAD! MAKE IT! The recipe below can be made for 2 people (or just you- I won’t judge. I ate it all myself too). If you’re making it for a crowd simply double the recipe!

Summer Superfood Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups kale (stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup cooked beets
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 avocado sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Remove kale from stems, wash and chop into bite sized pieces. Add olive oil and massage kale until tender.
  2. Add cooked quinoa, blueberries, beets and combine.
  3. Top with goat cheese, walnuts, avocado and salt. Enjoy!
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Strawberry Protein Bars

I don’t make protein bars often but these have been so easy to make and I feel a lot better giving them to my husband knowing what’s in them. He takes a bar with him every day to work so I know having protein, healthy fat and carbs will help keep him full while he’s working. We have so much protein powder at our house so I figured I’d use that to get the extra protein in these bars. He has strawberry powder and I found some freeze dried strawberries that I thought would go perfect in the bars- and they DO!

What I love most about these protein bars is there is no refined sugars, I add healthy fats with flax seeds and almonds, and the mix is pretty versatile. This is what the mixture looks like before I add the strawberries and press into the parchment paper to freeze. It isn’t totally stuck together which is fine because they will stick together after pressed and frozen. I like having protein bars for an easy and healthy snack to grab from the fridge or freezer when I’m in a rush.

I mixed a few strawberries into the mixture before I dumped it onto the parchment paper. Then I added some extras to the top. These strawberries are very similar to the Special K cereal. They give the bar a nice crunch and add to the strawberry taste from the protein powder. Feel free to use any flavored protein powder for these bars, I used strawberries and cream.

I’m able to get about 8 decent size bars from this recipe. After cutting the bars when they get out of the freezer, I place them in small ziplock bags. Some go into the fridge and some go into the freezer.

 

Strawberry Protein Bars

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup protein powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 3 tblsp flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the oats and protein until fine. Add dates, flax seeds and almonds and continue blending until finely chopped.
  2. Add honey and nut butter to bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Carefully mix in freeze dried strawberries.
  4. Place parchment paper in 8x8 baking dish. Put mixture onto parchment paper and press down firmly.
  5. Add extra strawberries on top if desired and freeze for 30 minutes.
  6. Once bars are hard, remove from dish and cut into 8 pieces. Place in bags to store in fridge or freezer.
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Strawberry Sunrise Sangria

It’s time for another Sunday Funday drink post and this month I have a light, refreshing strawberry sangria. Strawberry season is upon us so why not use those extra berries for something we enjoy. I love all the new Polar seltzer waters that are out so I knew I wanted to create a drink using a new flavor. I like to keep them light without a lot of added sugar. Perfect time to use the new strawberry sunrise flavor.

I’m not typically a big sangria girl but I know a lot of ladies like it. It’s a great drink when hosting a party because it’s easy to make and can be made for a crowd. I’m not going to lie, I tried to make this with red wine at first. I thought; strawberries = red wine. NOPE. It just wasn’t doing it for me. Not sweet enough. So we went with white wine. White wine is better in the summer anyways.

I let this puppy brew in the fridge overnight so the flavors could blend together. I put all the ingredients except for the soda water into the pitcher. I didn’t want the soda water to get flat and there also wasn’t enough room in my pitcher. You could add the soda water to your pitcher if you have room right before serving the drink. The strawberry puree does separate from the wine so be sure to mix it occasionally. Enjoy! 

Strawberry Sunrise Sangria

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pureed strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 bottle pinot grigio
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 bottle Seltzer Strawberry Sunrise
  • 1 orange cut in slices

Instructions

  1. Puree strawberries with blender and measure out 2 cups worth.
  2. Put strawberries in pitcher and add sugar, orange juice, pinot grigio, vodka.
  3. Squeeze sliced oranges into pitcher.
  4. Let sit in fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  5. Add seltzer when ready to serve and garnish with fresh strawberries and orange.
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Protein Oatmeal

You can’t really beat a good bowl of creamy oatmeal in the morning. I love having a nutrient filled bowl of oats to get me fueled for the day, but also need protein to satisfy me for a few hours. Here is where the egg whites come in. Oatmeal has a good source of carbohydrates to give me energy and a decent amount of fiber but I know protein is what I need to feel full longer. Cooking the egg whites into the oats is easy (stir consistently due to sticking) and can hardly be tasted depending on your toppings.

I’ve been getting weirder with my oatmeal lately and have started adding veggies to it. I know, WTF am I thinking? But I like to get them in where I can and if I can’t really taste them I call it a win. The basis of how I cook oatmeal is the same whether I add shredded zucchini or frozen chopped cauliflower. The toppings are where I like to switch it up depending on what I have/am in the mood for. I find the toppings help mask the veggies and eggs a bit too. Especially granola.

This bowl above is made with the same egg white base and water but includes some shredded zucchini with the water drained. I shred the zucchini into a paper towel then ring it out to get the extra water out. The zucchini goes into the oats so they cook at the same time. I topped it with purely elizabeth chocolate sea salt granola, flax seeds, banana and white chocolate peanut butter. The salt from the granola tastes soo good with the oats and peanut butter.

This bowl above has shredded, frozen cauliflower cooked into the oats and egg whites with water. I topped it with plain greek yogurt, flax seeds, purely elizabeth granola again and strawberries. It was more of a creamy texture than the peanut butter but I like this just as much. The yogurt with strawberries are a great combination together and gives it a nice creamy texture.

Sometimes you just don’t want to bother with the veggies. I get it- it’s kinda weird at first to get used to them. This bowl doesn’t have any veggies. But I still added the egg whites. I used plain greek yogurt for some extra protein and purely elizabeth blueberry hemp granola, chia seeds, frozen blueberries and bananas.

I love to eat oats before going to the gym to give me the energy I need to feel good and push through a tough workout. Protein in my meals is just as important so I like to use real food sources when I can (instead of protein powder, since I have them during/after my workout). Give these oats a try for a healthy fueled breakfast!

Protein Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3-6 tblsp egg whites
  • 1/3 cup water (2/3 if using 3 tblsp egg whites)
  • Toppings
  • 1tblsp peanut butter or plain greek yogurt
  • mixed berries/banana
  • 1/4 granola

Instructions

  1. Spray pot with coconut/olive oil to avoid sticking.
  2. Add oatmeal, egg whites and water to pan.
  3. Constantly stir over medium/medium-low heat.
  4. Once oats are cooked and become fluffy, remove from heat. Add toppings and enjoy!
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Crockpot Chicken in 3 Easy Meals

Crockpot salsa chicken is one of the easiest things I do when it comes to meal prepping. It’s literally 2 ingredients and can be used for the week (depending on how much chicken you use and your family size). Lucky for me- my family doesn’t LOVE to have leftovers all the time. But I have no problem thinking of new meals to eat the leftovers for lunch or a quick dinner. So I created this post to show you how I use the chicken in 3 different meals.

It kind of goes without saying but I feel I need to explain how I make the crockpot salsa chicken. So I make sure to defrost the chicken in the fridge or a few hours on the counter in the morning. I use 1.5-2.5lbs of chicken. Put it in the crockpot and pour a jar of salsa over it on low heat 4-6 hours. Yes .. that’s literally it. Moving on.

 

First up was over a salad. I chopped up some romaine lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes and avocado for the salad. Top it with the chicken and add a little bolthouse farm salsa avocado yogurt and it’s done. Lots of flavor in this easy lunch.

Next was a taco for dinner. I bought these veggie wraps to switch it up and I like them so far. I have the chicken, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and plain greek yogurt for the taco. Add some broccoli for a side and we’re good.

   

The last meal I made was quesadillas. I added some chopped peppers, mixed cheese and a sprinkle of chili powder to a whole wheat tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half and cook it on both sides until the cheese is melted. Quesadillas are a simple dinner meal and most kids enjoy them. I dip mine in plain greek yogurt with some chips, tomatoes and broccoli on the side for a balanced meal.

If you’re looking for an easy meal that doesn’t require much effort and can be used throughout the week, crockpot chicken is for you. You may not get as many meals out of it as I did due to feeding other people in your family, but if you add more chicken to the crockpot this will help. You can also use these ideas with your favorite BBQ or buffalo sauce. I hope you find this post helpful in prepping some healthy meals for the week!

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Top 10 Tips for Eating Healthy

These are my top 10 tips for eating healthy that have worked for me thus far. We all evolve and some things may or may not work for you depending on your stage of life. I’m sure in a few years my tips may change, but as of now raising a family- these are them!

Cook- Cooking is definitely a skill I’ve developed over time but I will be the first to tell you I’m not a crazy chef and some of the stuff I make isn’t always great. But that doesn’t matter to me for every meal. I find recipes and do my best with what I have. I know the simple ingredients I should keep on hand to throw together a meal if I need something in a pinch. Relying on packaged foods to give me the nutrients and energy my body needs just isn’t going to cut it. Learning to cook was one of the best things I’ve done (and continue doing!) to eat healthy.

Grocery shop weekly- This is due to my family eating so many fresh fruits and vegetables, so I need to shop more often to re-stock. I know what I need or should be looking for when I shop so I don’t spend more than 30 minutes in the store (unless I’m waiting for deli at Market Basket-right?)

Have easy snacks/meals ready- I’m talking granola bars, cheese sticks, yogurts, trail mix- anything you can grab with you if you know you’re going to be out for a couple hours. Better to be safe than sorry. I’d rather have a protein bar or some nuts instead of being hungry and having to stop somewhere for some not so healthy snacks. The same goes for if you don’t have dinner planned for the night. Taking out some frozen turkey/salmon burgers, meatballs to toss in a sauce and vegetables are great things to have for backup.

Plan dinner- I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to have every night, but I’ll take out some protein from the freezer (chicken, beef, pork, chicken sausage) to be sure it’s thawed out in time for me to cook. Then I plan what I’ll make either that night or in the morning.

Include vegetables in 3/4 of my meals- I’ve learned that I don’t like going long without having vegetables in my meals. I crave them. Or I crave junk and that’s a good sign that I probably need more vegetables. Adding some spinach to eggs or a smoothie is a simple one for me or I’ve been adding frozen cauliflower to a lot of my meals. Raw veggies are always a good side when I’m in a hurry.

Don’t buy tempting foods- I like ice cream, candy, chocolate, cookies- all the junk. Do I buy it? Not really. Why? Because if it’s easily accessible to me then I’ll eat it. It’s calling my name in the freezer and cabinets. If I really want a treat I’ll make it myself so I know it’s not processed junk or go out and get it with my family.

Eat a lot of protein- Everyone has heard you should be eating protein. Protein helps control body fat, repair and grow muscles, keep you full longer and promotes a healthy metabolism. Our body doesn’t produce or store protein and once the amount your body stores goes down, it needs to be replenished by food. Since lifting weights is essentially breaking down your muscles-it’s important to refuel them correctly with protein. So you’ll see almost all of my meals are focused around protein for these reasons.

Stay hydrated- I have 2 big nalgene bottles that I rotate between and always have them filled up with me throughout the day. I also like the polar seltzer waters and tea for a change during the day.

Eat breakfast- Making something to eat before I leave the house is basically a non-negotiable for me. I’m pretty hungry within an hour of waking up and know I’ll need something. Cooking some eggs or oatmeal doesn’t take much time and there are things I can do the night before to make this easier as well.

Have variety- A variety of protein, vegetables, carbs and fats ensure I’m getting nutrients from many sources. I like to be sure to eat some fish at least once a week, not too much sodium filled meats, ground turkey, pork and chicken to create variety in my meats. Different colored and cooked vegetables give my meals an assortment of vitamins as well. Some people like simplicity and that’s fine but sometimes having variety inspires me (& my kids).

What are some of your tips for eating healthy? I’d love to hear them to add to my list! Comment below and let me know!

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Sunday Funday Drink

Sometimes I feel like I don’t stop moving from the time I get up until the kids are in bed. Days are getting busier and can be stressful. Not that I think we should only drink to deal with every day stresses in life, but once in awhile it’s nice to relax with a drink.

Since I was a bartender for a few years in college before I got a big girl job, I know how to make a drink or two. So I thought it would be fun to incorporate a fun drink of the month. Summer is coming up and I know people like to enjoy themselves and I like making fun drinks to have with friends. Drinks at restaurants can be so sugary and sweet so I experiment at home.

The whole drinking thing doesn’t totally mesh with my #fueledup theme but who doesn’t like to indulge once in awhile? I at least TRY to make them on the “lighter” side. Life’s for living! And because kids.. am i right?

Margaritas are my favorite (not just because I worked at Chili’s.. but partly) but the sour mix can be pretty harsh. I recently found this Limeaid from Newman’s Own (I can’t remember who told me about it, Mikala?) that tastes similar but is way less sugar/calories. The important thing to remember is to add the tequila, juice and lime then shake it BEFORE you add the soda water. If you shake the soda water it’ll make it flat. And a shaken margarita is where it’s at.

Skinny Margarita

Ingredients

  • 1.5oz Tequila
  • 2oz Limeaid (Newman's Own)
  • 2oz Soda Water
  • Lime
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Put tequila, limeaid and wedge of lime squeezed in a tumbler glass. Shake for 30 seconds.
  2. Pour over ice
  3. Top with remaining soda water
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Hi! Welcome to my healthy eating blog!

Hi there! I’m Kara. Being a personal trainer and health coach, I tend to talk to people about food- A LOT. I’m a huge foodie. I love making new recipes I find, creating new ones when I get inspiration from browsing recipes, and new food ingredients. My recipes almost always need to be healthy with some treats thrown in here and there (hello chocolate) but I like to think that homemade is always better than store bought or processed ingredients. I think creating healthy recipes can be easy with the right mindset and ingredients. Not aiming for perfection in recipes is important and I love experimenting with an open mind. Colorful food provides the variety our bodies need and makes you excited to eat.

2 of the things I hear most when I talk to people about my food is:

1- Kara, come cook for me!

2- HOW do you do it?

I want to let you know: YOU CAN DO IT! I’m not a chef. I find easy, healthy recipes and make sure I always have ingredients to easily put something together. Giving myself 20-30 minutes to cook dinner (insert tv/nap time/dad time) is crucial. Making my family healthy food is important to me since we are all active either playing sports or in the gym. My other passion is lifting weights so I like to make sure my meals are fueling me in that aspect as well.

My hopes for the blog is to inspire you to make healthy meals for:

Your family (#fueledupfam #familyfuel)

Your kids (#fueledupkids #funkidfuel)

YOU! (#fueledupforme #allaboutme)

Let’s get cooking!

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