chocolate + paper + scissors


Fantastic Food Friday: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I’ve decided to make Fridays a day for celebrating great food. Please note that I’m not claiming to be a food expert, nor is this a food blog. However, I do love cooking and eating food (which I suppose makes me a foodie!) and experimenting with recipes to make them healthier and still delish. Not all recipes that I love are healthy, by the way! But, I would like to share recipes that are somewhat easy that also make my family happy. Eating good food should make us happy, right?

I have to give credit for my “FFF” title. Last year, my friend and colleague Kim turned me on to Rocks in my Dryer, a fantastic blog about life and parenting, which originally featured Works for Me Wednesdays (now featured on We are THAT Family). I decided to follow in the footsteps of the alliteration – and devote my fun Friday entries to fantastic food.

My free time is limited in this season of my life, but there are two foodie sites I check regularly: Cookie Madness and Cooking Light. There are millions more out there – but these are my two favorites that always offer no-fail recipes.

I’ve been trying to take to my cookbooks that have been collecting dust over the years (especially the last 6 months, as my little man is almost 6 months!). I’m so fortunate to have so many lovely books – so I’m trying to dive into them a little at a time. I’m excited to share them with you!

My most recent recipe find comes from a church cookbook – which are full of great little favorite, tried-and-true comfort food recipes. I added a few twists to make it (secretly) super healthy, and my three year-old daughter and my husband loved it! They’re both quite choosy on their sweets…especially my husband. Since we’ve been married, we’ve concluded we have very different ideas of what constitutes “good” sweets. That's another topic for another day.

This recipe has whole grain, ground flaxseed, antioxidants from the chocolate, and vegetables! It tastes like gooey chocolate cake. With benefits.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Food for the Journey
by First Congregational Church of Houston

3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional!)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat eggs until frothy. Beat in sugar, oil and vanilla until thick and lemon-colored. Sift all dry ingredients together. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with zucchini. Stir in chocolate chips last.

Pour batter into a greased 9X13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Enjoy as a perfect breakfast, snack or dessert!


Simply Beautiful.

My husband is a financial planner. Yes: since October, his profession has been no fun. Lately, his days are full of stress and uncertainty. Yucky market numbers. Ups and downs. Worried clients. Feeling helpless.

In fact, the very morning our son was born, the Dow hit record lows. As he held our sweet little guy in his arms, he felt the cell phone ringing in his pocket. As I sat in the bed, still drowsy from my epidural, I’ll never forget the torn look on his face. “I’ve got to go make some calls to clients.”

Did I mention he works from home?

His daily interruptions from one co-worker include lots of “Daddy, look at this!” and “Daddy, where are my princesses?” and the quiet tiptoe into Daddy’s office when he’s on the phone to get one more (okay, just one more) piece of legal-sized paper for multi-color crayon scribbling. Even on his most stressful days, this tiny three year-old colors his days beautiful.

These days, I can’t help but remember the economic downturn of 2002. In a post-911 world, and in Houston, in a post-Enron world, our economy was hit hard. I obsessed about reading the news every chance I could, as if the journalists could foretell our uncertain future. I’ll never forget how he crash of Enron sent destructive ripples through the city – through every industry. Employed at a marketing communications firm, I (somehow) survived two rounds of layoffs. It was a frightening, emotional and stressful period, with days full of twice the workload and newly-absent beloved co-workers, sent to find employment elsewhere. I grew up during this time - and I learned the value of gratitude – and making the most of what we’re given.

These days, I’m doing good if I sit down to read the headlines at some point during the day…or the week! My freelance workload has been fairly slow, which has been a blessing, since I’m still adjusting to life with two children. But when I’m not writing for clients, I’ll admit that some days my brain goes to mush, and I make little effort to read CNN’s headlines. (So, I will try to catch the day’s political recap with Rachel Maddow or John Stewart for some good laughs.)

With a passionate, energetic three year-old girl and a nursing 5 month-old boy, my agendas are different these days, and a successful day has nothing to do with clients, and everything to do with a small girl whose soft hands reach for mine in the parking lot of a busy grocery store. And a tiny boy who lights up when he sees me with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a good day if there’s little fever, lots of arts and crafts projects mixed in with some Barney and Word World – and of course, some treats. Oh – and 2-3 good naps for little guy!)

With all of the hectic, stressful headlines indicating an uncertain future, it’s quite easy to get sucked into the downtrodden-ness of it all. The good side of it is – and I don’t mean to sound cliché – but times like these really remind me how little we really need to be happy…yet how much we already have.

The life our family lives inside our walls may be filled with some sleep-deprived nights and nonstop, messy days, but this life is simply beautiful - even when paper, glue, play-doh and beads keep me from seeing the floor.


Mandatory reading that's hard to swallow.

After listening to the most recent episode of my favorite weekly podcast, Manic Mommies, I feel I have to share a book that was reviewed this week: Poisoned Profits: the Toxic Assault on Our Children. I encourage each of you to have a listen to the interview with co-author journalist Alice Shabecoff - it's informative and fascinating - but frightening, and yet - motivating.

Below is the post I made in the Big Tent Manic Mommies community. Although I promised myself I would try to refrain from purchasing any books this year...I'll have to break down and make an exception.

Subject: Ridding the ol' plastics per this week's podcast

First of all, I want to say that this week's podcast, although horrendously frightening, was eye-opening and educational, and did make me move to clean out some probably not-so-healthy items in the house.

Let me just get this off my chest (let's pretend this is a aloud for all to hear): "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

I have to say that the preview of this book, as Erin so eloquently put it, "scared the bejesus out of me." I was listening to the podcast as I was nursing my sweet little 5 month-old boy this morning...and I wanted to clutch him and my daughter so close to me - so close that I permanently protect them from every bit of potential toxic harm. I know...not quite so possible. But we can try.

So, that said, I just cleaned out our eek-y plastics drawer and am ridding our home of all old sippy cups, bowls, plates...all things plastic.

And, although I was once an organic fanatic when my daughter was starting solids, I'll admit that I've slowly sunken back into the realm of conventional foods to help ease the pocketbook: non-organic milk, regular eggs, meat, etc. Times are very lean in our home, as my husband is a financial planner (not a fun job to have right now whatsoever) and I am a freelance writer (inconsistent business), so I've been thinking that it's okay to buy conventional foods to save extra money, but I'm disappointed that it's not. Where is the happy medium?

I found it interesting that the author mentioned the cost if we didn't choose organic. That was a bit of a jolt.

And, what the heck - about the dirty dozen?! I hadn't heard of this handy list. Thanks, ladies, for the tip. Here's an article on necessary organic foods from MSNBC, in case anyone missed it:

So, Erin and Kristin, although this week's podcast was heavy - it is greatly appreciated - and we all have a responsibility to pass it on to others.

Off to dump the plastics in the recycling bin. Lots more work to do.