Tag Archives: Farmer’s Market

Sweetie’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Sweetie's Chocolate Zucchini CakeHi, sweetie pies! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. Mine has been pretty laid back, but nice, so far. We have had a very mild summer up until now, and I think the month of August is going to be a hot one. I’ve been kicking it with the A/C as much as possible and laying low. It has been a perfect opportunity for me to spend some time in the kitchen.

My mom and I were talking on the phone the other day, and she mentioned that my dad had brought in a few “baseball bats” from the garden patch. The meaning of that statement was immediately clear– baseball bats are oversize summertime zucchinis! She was trying to figure out to do with them, and we laughed about one of our favorite ways to enjoy zucchini– in chocolate cake. 🙂 There is an old zucchini cake recipe that we used to enjoy that was pretty decadent. I started to wonder if I could get the same yummy result with a few tweaks. I love revamping an old recipe to fit the way I prefer to cook now. I am especially happy when I get a result that I deem to be just as good as the original. I’m happy to report that such was the case with this recipe. Mom, here you go– If you make it, let me know what you think!

Mmmm...Sweetie’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup apple sauce

1/4 cup egg beaters (or 1 egg)

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup grated zucchini

2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped pecans (or other nuts)

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chips, but any chips would work just fine. The minis just go further.)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the applesauce, Greek yogurt, and egg beaters and continue to beat the mixture until the ingredients are thoroughly combined (about two minutes). You can’t overwork this part of the mixture so don’t worry about just letting the mixer run for a bit.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry mixture to the mixing bowl, and beat just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture looks smooth. 

Using a spatula, fold in the grated zucchini. I used the small holes on my grater to make finer shreds of zucchini. Pour the batter into the baking pan.

Sprinkle the nuts and the chocolate chips on top of the mixture, and bake for 40-45 minutes. When it is done, the center should spring back when you touch it with your finger. Just be careful, and don’t try to touch your finger to the hot, melted chocolate chips. Not that I did that myself. Nope. I would never do something silly like that. 🙂

This makes 9 to 12 servings, depending on how hungry you are for cake! 

Being the farmer’s market junkie that I am, I was so excited to see a new vendor a couple of weeks ago. They had whole wheat flour for sale. Of course, I had to support my local economy by buying a bag. 😉

Local GoldI’m happy to have this bag of beautiful flour in the fridge. The Greek yogurt and the zucchini in this cake came from the market as well. My zucchini was on the plump side, but it was no baseball bat!

Zuke. E. KneeThe zucchini adds a lovely moistness to this cake, and it becomes virtually invisible (unless you know to look for a few flecks of green) in the finished product.

I swear, it's in there!See… it’s in there!

Sprinkles of GreenI substituted applesauce for the oil called for in my original recipe, and I will admit that the applesauce sub was the switch that concerned me the most. I feel like I’ve tried that trick before only to end up with overly dense and sort of gummy baked goods. That is no bueno in my book. I don’t know if the Greek yogurt somehow balanced it out (which wouldn’t be surprising since GY is my kitchen superstar), but I didn’t find this cake to be overly dense at all. In fact, it had nice crumbs, was lovely and moist but was rather light and fluffy as well. Just the way I like it! Check out the side view. Do you see any green (aside from the plate)? Subtle, right?

YUM!When I woke up this morning, I realized that the thing I really wanted for breakfast was… yes… you guessed it… a piece of this cake! It seemed perfect for a Sunday morning, and I savored it along with my yummy cup of coffee. Maybe I should make some in muffin form…? They would certainly be similar to the cake like muffins for sale at Starbucks.

I’m finding that one of the amazing things about intuitive eating is the fact that, if I have what I really want, it often doesn’t take a lot of it to satisfy me. If I’m satisfied, I’m not going to go rooting through the kitchen looking for something more (or trying my hardest NOT to do that). For example, I’ve realized that I prefer my morning coffee to have a little bit of half and half mixed with unsweetened almond breeze. The flavor is so rich and satisfying that I’m completely satisfied with one cup. I’m really learning a lot from this new approach to eating, and it gets a bit better each day. I’m not just eating cake all day long, but it’s nice to enjoy my cake without feeling guilty and like I’m cheating on my plan. 

Speaking of the cake, I made this cake last night, and shared it with a friend, Mr. T, who came over for dinner. The dinner I made last night was not enormous, but I was very happy at the end of the meal because the ingredients were good quality, very fresh and cooked the way I liked them. In addition to testing out this new version of the cake recipe, we also tried out Emeril’s Steak Rub. I received a package in the mail the other day, from the Foodbuzz tastemaker program, and it had several of Emeril’s products for me to try out. So far, I’ve used a couple of them, but I’m planning to tell you about all of them in one big Emerilicious post. Stay tuned for that! I already have plans for the other two items, so I expect to post about them very soon. By the way, Mr. T seemed to enjoy the cake. Good thing since I sent a big chunk home with him. 🙂 

Now, I’m going to brave a Sunday afternoon trip to Trader Joe’s. I haven’t been in awhile, and I can’t wait to see what I find. Unlike Whole Foods, Safeway and Giant, I have to actually drive to Trader Joe’s. As a result, I probably only go to Trader Joe’s once every couple of months. That may seem funny, since it is probably only a ten minute drive, but I love living in a place where I can walk to do errands, and I try to stick to that as much as possible. I love getting a little bit of bonus exercise, and I know that leaving my car at home is better for the environment too. Can you walk/bike to run errands where you live? Do you?

Growing up in the country with no sidewalks and not a lot of stores, walking or biking to run errands wasn’t much of an option. We often hopped in the car to go “to town” to get groceries at Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, Save-a-lot and, later on, the Wal-mart supercenter. The post office was really about the only thing within walking distance. Walking to run errands is one of my favorite things about the place I live now. TJ’s is always super crowded on Sunday, but the fun stuff I find usually makes getting in the car a worthwhile venture. Wish me luck!

Ciao for now, sweeties and I hope you all have a great week! 🙂

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Farmer's Market, Food, Greek Yogurt, Intuitive Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss Success Story, Zucchini

Saturday At the Farmer’s Market

Blue Ridge DairyToday was a gorgeous day. It was chilly, but the sunshine made me smile! I also had a very therapeutic time writing my previous post. I am on cloud nine right now, and I feel like things are looking up!

It was so nice out when I woke up this morning, that I decided to head down to the farmer’s market. I should tell you that I don’t have far to go to get to the Courthouse Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and I feel badly that I haven’t been a regular patron through the cold and gloomy months. I could almost just roll out of bed and land there, so I have no good excuse. Granted, the pickin’s are a bit slim when the growing season isn’t in full swing, but there are still plenty of local farmers braving the cold to sell a host of things including amazing free range eggs, handmade yogurts and cheeses, and ecofriendly meats like the ones I purchased today.

My HaulI’m reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” right now, and it is one of a long line of books I’ve read on topics like eating locally, the lack of a traditional food culture in America, and environmentally friendly food practices. Each book I read increases my awareness of the plight of the small farmer, and the reasons we should support and treasure them. Here’s one great reason: these beautiful brown eggs!

Thanks, Chicken!I come from a farming background. My father’s ancestors established a homestead in South Dakota where they raised a number of things including cattle. My mother’s parents, the grandparents I mention so often, were the children of sharecroppers in Arkansas and Tennessee, and they spent some time as cotton sharecroppers themselves before my grandfather stopped farming, got a job in the local hardware store and moved the family closer to town. Both of my parents grew up on farms. While farming was never their vocation, we always had a sizable garden and lots of pecan trees so perhaps they subconsciously needed a “dirt fix.” Oh, and our house is in the middle of a field. 🙂 Even now, I grow things, including tomatoes, in pots out on my apartment balcony. I’m convinced that dirt is in my blood. I appreciate the hard work that goes in to growing our food, and I appreciate the farmers who are willing to do it! Look at these awesome mushrooms!

Mushroom LadyI’ve decided to try to do a better job of shopping for certain things at the farmer’s market. The quality of the things I purchase is always amazing, the people are nice, and many of them are happy to stand around and chat on a Saturday morning about their plants, animals and lives on the farm. I get a sense of community, a story about the food going on my dinner plate and a chance to put money to good use. I have nothing to lose! 

PastaI’ve mentioned before that I don’t eat a lot of meat. It hasn’t been a conscious decision, but my taste has sort of evolved in a meatless direction. A big exception to that are the meats I purchase at the farmer’s market. I believe that you really can tell a difference in the taste of an animal who has been allowed to roam about as animals are meant to do munching on fresh things (not piles of corn) and living in a healthy environment. I couldn’t resist buying a small pork tenderloin this morning, which turned into my evening dinner. 

Rosemary Mustard Pork TenderloinI mixed up a marinade for this 1/2 pound pork tenderloin that contained 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. country style dijon mustard and 1/2 Tbsp. of fresh rosemary snipped from my potted rosemary plant. My dirt! 🙂 I slathered it on the pork and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then, I roasted it in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until the thermometer read 160. It turned a lovely mahogany color, and had an amazing taste and aroma. It couldn’t be easier, either. This was a dinner to feel good about. 

Dinner!I enjoyed an oven baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon and some Brussels sprouts on the side. I only ate about 1/3 of the pork because I love leftover pork tenderloin on sandwiches! It’s always a good choice if you are looking for a lean meat, and when it is as flavorful as this piece, it becomes one of the best choices I can think of for sandwich making– period! I know what I’ll be having tomorrow!!

I realize that not everyone has the luxury of a farmer’s market outside their door, but you may be surprised to find one closer than you think. If you are interested, this USDA website  has a feature that will allow you to search for the one nearest to you. I’m hoping to feature a number of farmer’s market purchases from now on, and I’d encourage you to check into the wares at a farmer’s market in your area if you haven’t already.

If you are a farmer’s market shopper, what’s the coolest purchase you’ve ever made? I bought some very interesting heirloom tomatoes last summer, including one that was bright purple!

My current quest is to buy some of the first asparagus of the year. If I understand correctly, it could appear at any time. I’m going to be checking next Saturday with a sense of excitement and with my fingers crossed! I might be a little dorky, but… I really love the asparagus hunt!

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Filed under diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers