food, travel, lifestyle, and a hearty serving of motherhood

Category: Health (page 2 of 3)

Friday Feast – Zucchini Bread

This bread.

Let me just tell you something about this bread.

When my siblings and I were growing up, our Mom used to make this AMAZING zucchini bread. To-die-for. Meltingly moist. It’s almost as if it just never occurred to us that it was chock full of grated zucchini. That’s a vegetable, by the way.

Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Bread -

Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Bread -

Looking back, I get this happy nostalgic feeling when I think about that zucchini bread. That’s because my brother and I (Kara was likely too young to remember this) had a very specific way of eating our slices. Mom would cut a generous slice from the zucchini loaf, put it on a plate (or paper towel), and then allow us to slather on some good old-fashioned Country Crock buttery spread. We didn’t stop there, though. We’d then cut our respective slices into 5 or six smaller pieces — think chunky “matchsticks”. Next, we’d throw those buttery matchsticks into the microwave for about 10 seconds. Each bite was heavenly.

As an ADULT (sad, I know), I’m always searching for ways to “healthify” such moist and buttery baked goods. For this bread, I’ve swapped the sugar for Truvia Baking Blend, substituted some of the canola oil for applesauce, and a third of the flour is now whole wheat flour. These simple swaps have worked wonders on the nutritional content of this bread! Check out the health stats following the recipe below.

Healthy and Hearty Zucchini Bread // reinvented family recipe

Yields 2 loaves (16 slices)

1 cup Truvia Baking Blend
3 eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (1 storebought 4oz cup works perfectly)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic)
2 cups grated raw zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. Spritz 2 loaf pans with Baker’s Joy (or oil and then dust with flour). In a very large bowl or stand mixer, combine Truvia Baking Blend, eggs, oil, applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

To the egg mixture, add both flour varieties and the grated zucchini. Mix until any flour lumps are incorporated. At this point, you can mix in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts if you so desire. Pour into the prepped loaf pans.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife/toothpick comes out clean.

Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Bread -

Assuming you end up with a total of 16 servings (8 slices per loaf), I was able to cut the original recipe down by 202 calories per serving! Below you’ll see the stats for average zucchini bread on the left and our literally-just-as-good-revamped-version on the right.

Amazing, right?

And yes, I’m sitting at my desk happily enjoying a slice, matchstick-style.

Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Bread -

xo Cassie

Healthy Snacks & Race Day

Thanks to my Mom and sister, I’ve fallen for Graze boxes.


These snack-filled recycled cardboard boxes are delivered straight to your mailbox each week… or every other week, or as often as you like! Each box contains 4 small, individually-packaged healthy snacks. The snacks range from nuts and seeds, granola bars (or “flapjacks”, as Graze calls them), dried fruits, and even “dippers”, meaning there is a small pocket of sauce or dip to accompany your snack! Yum!


Some snacks are sweet, while some are savory. I’ve been receiving my Graze boxes for months now, and it’s always a nice treat to open the mailbox each Monday to find a new box!

I throw a few packs in my gym bag, so that I’ve always got something to nibble on post-workout. Shoot, I even keep a few in my purse for those days when errands take much longer than I anticipated! Oh, and each box contains a nutritional information insert with the details of each snack. Super helpful for those of us using MyFitnessPal.

Anyways, race day is coming up (yet again!) this Sunday — the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon & Half-Marathon!


This will be my fourth half-marathon, and it will also mark the very special 1-year since my first big race. The 2013 City of Oaks was the first half-marathon for both Richard and myself! It was SUCH a sense of accomplishment (and pain), crossing that 13.1 finish line one year ago.


I worry that I have not trained on enough hills for this daunting downtown Raleigh road race… but I am keeping my fingers crossed that I beat my personal race time on Sunday, as I have with each race since November of last year.

Anyways, I’ve eaten half of a tasty Summer Berry Flapjack (the rest is for when I get back!), and now I’m out the door for a long run before my final dress fitting this afternoon! Send me some good vibes for Sunday’s big race!

xo Cassie

Lentils with Tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and Fresh Herbs

Sooo… Perhaps I should just blog my way through the Plenty cookbook, because here’s yet ANOTHER amazing vegetarian dish to share with you!

Lentils with Tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and Fresh Herbs // adapted from Plenty
Yields 4 large servings

For the oven-dried tomatoes, you’ll need…
6-8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

And for the rest, you’ll need…
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/3 cups French green lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped chives
4 tablespoons chopped dill
4 ounces mild Gorgonzola, crumbled

1. To make the oven-dried tomatoes, preheat the oven to 275°F. Halve the tomatoes and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle tomatoes and thyme with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried (the skins will be ever-so-slightly blackened). When finished, discard the thyme and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, place the sliced red onion in a medium-sized bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar, and sprinkle with salt. Give it a little stir, then leave the bowl alone so the onion softens a bit.
3. Place the lentils in a medium pot of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
4. Drain well in a colander and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, crushed garlic, and some black pepper.
5. Once cool, add the herbs and mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
6. To serve, add the tomatoes (with their cooking juices) and Gorgonzola to the lentil mixture.
7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


It may not be as “pretty” as the tart in my previous post, but this dish is a cool and delicious makeover of your run-of-the-mill summertime salad. It would be great for parties, picnics, or just a main course! Lentils are filling!


I served this dish as a main course with a crusty piece of rosemary focaccia (with a mix of olive oil, balsamic, and cracked black pepper for dipping) and a small side of herb-buttered brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes.

Lentils on plate


Oh-so satisfying.

xo Cassie

Yotam’s “Very Full Tart”

I’m going out on quite a limb here… but if you are a vegetarian OR a meat-eater that also enjoys and respects AMAZING vegetarian dishes, buy this book.

I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift from Richard’s sister. Thank you, Julie!


Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is full of unique vegetarian dishes, perfectly curated to appeal to the novice home cook, as well as the more experienced cook who may be looking for something just a bit more adventurous.

It doesn’t hurt that photographs paired alongside nearly every recipe (ahem, something that I always appreciate) are absolutely stunning.


I chose to make the “Very Full Tart” as my first recipe from the book. It’s a savory Mediterranean tart filled with roasted vegetables, feta cheese, sweet caramelized onions, eggs, cream, and loads of fresh thyme.

The recipe can be found here.

(It’s a bit lengthy to type out for this post, but PLEASE do not let that discourage you from making this deliciousness.)

Yes, it took a couple hours (prepping and cooking), but it was SO SIMPLE. There are no complicated sauces or fancy ways of chopping things. It’s just a really tasty and simple-to-prepare tart.

Did I mention that it’s kinda like pizza in the sense that it’s amazing warm-from-the-oven AND cold?

I am eating a cold slice for brunch right now.




Tart slice

Tart slice

Tart slice

I hope you’ll make this tasty tart — and let me know what you think!

Enjoy your weekend!

xo Cassie

Summertime Hiking

Just a quick little post to share a handful of today’s early-morning photos from my hike with Richard around Bond Lake in Cary — as well as a few that I snapped on my own while at Apex Community Park.





I hope that you, too, were able to enjoy some of the cool weather that today so graciously offered.

IT’S JULY, people!

And we’ve got our WINDOWS open.

And let me tell you — the cats are loving every minute of it.

xo Cassie

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