Summer is the time to kick back, relax and enjoy lazy days by the pool. With it also comes sporadic schedules, sleeping in and a lack of motivation to plan evening meals. For me, summer with the kids changes on a weekly basis. Different camps each week means our mealtimes are random and totally unplanned. That is not exactly a healthy recipe for nutrient-dense meals, so when school starts back up I like to try and get back into the kitchen and focus on healthy and wholesome meals. Tonight I began my quest to gain my creativity again while using fresh ingredients.
I tend to not usually follow recipes in a book, but like to use them as inspiration to make my own meals. I will substitute this or add in that to make the meal fit my own dietary needs and create something my husband will eat and enjoy. It is fun to experiment with different foods and seasonings; I find it as a way to tap into my “left brain” tendencies when I lack the time to focus on writing. And bottom line is, I love food, especially when it fuels my body and keeps me on track with my health goals.
Tonight I used Instagram and Facebook to post my first attempt to get back to clean eating with an off-the-cuff zucchini ribbon bowl. I was trying to use up a few things in the fridge before it spoiled, and it turned into something I think I could definitely eat again. Here is my “recipe.”
You will need a few simple ingredients: 3 small zucchini, 1/4 of a red onion (diced), minced garlic, some good olive oil, 4 to 5 pieces of crumbled bacon (I try and stick to a brand that is organic), 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (I used yellow since I had them on hand), 1 avocado (diced), 1/2 cup crushed walnuts, 2 or 3 oz. of feta cheese (this is a sheep milk cheese).
To start off, use a spiralizer on the zucchini and set it aside in a bowl. I have a spiralizer set for my Kitchen Aid mixer which is very easy to use. Best. Gift. Ever! I also cooked my bacon in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. So much easier than a skillet and microwave. After it cooled I crumbled it and set the bacon aside. Watch out for bacon lovers in your home, they will try and devour your ingredient because the smell waifs throughout the house while it cooks in the oven.
The next step was getting my “sauce” created for the ribbons. I used around 2 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil and turned the skillet on a medium-high heat. After the oil heated up I added my diced red onion and garlic. It only takes a couple of minutes for the onion and garlic to soften and open up, so when this happens you want to add your bacon bits and let the flavors start to mesh together. This is when I added my spices: a good pinch of cracked black pepper and around 1/3 to a 1/2 teaspoon of Beau Monde seasoning. You don’t really need salt for this dish because the bacon gives you enough seasoning for that ingredient. I gently stirred everything together before adding in my tomatoes. You want to stir them in and let them saute a bit to soften up the skins. Once this was all combined and heated through I threw in my zucchini ribbons to warm them up in the skillet and coat it with my olive oil sauce. I actually added a little more olive oil because some of my liquid had evaporated during the cooking process.
After the ribbons heated thoroughly I tossed in the walnuts, feta and avocado then plated it up for my husband and myself. It was light, not overly acidic and low in carbohydrates. The avocado and walnuts added in some healthy fat and Omega-3s too. This is just my own creation, but with zucchini noodles, you can let your creativity flow with whatever your kitchen has to offer. Last, but not least, finding a wine to pair with the meal (if you are not completely eating clean). I would choose a nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc or summer Rose. Either would nicely compliment the freshness of the ribbons. Sit, sip and hopefully you enjoy this light and healthy meal while getting back into the groove of #backtoschool.