Momma's Journey

Healthy body, healthy spirit, healthy mothering. This is the journey I have set out on with my two amazing children.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Potato Zucchini Casserole Recipe

Once again I have been sucked in by some not-so-innocent Pinterest viewing.  I saw a gorgeous picture labeled Baked Zucchini Casserole and thought, ummm, yummy!  I mean, come on.  Zucchini (which my garden is producing in abundance), cheesy, creamy goodness?  Yes please.

Then I went to the original recipe on and saw that this creamy goodness was 81% calories by fat.  I don't think so.  I am not going to eat zucchini every day and hide all of the healthy in a fat sauce.  So I pinned the darn thing and set out to make my own healthified version.

I started by shredding 1 medium zucchini and salting it to drain some of the water.  While that was doing it's thing in the sink I noticed some potatoes sitting on my table just begging to be eaten.  Potato casserole = yum.  Zucchini = yum.  Potatoes + zucchini = double the yum and double the veg factor.  So I shredded some potatoes with my box grater and dumped them in with the zukes.

The creamy goodness is where the fat and calories come from so first thing I did was cut the original recipe ingredients in half.  I don't need 4 TBSP of butter if I am adding cheese.  I also don't need 1 1/2 C of cheese.  I used somewhere between 3/4 - 1 cup of cheese which I also shredded.  My arms and my box grater both got a good workout with this recipe.

I never use canned cream soup because of the insane sodium amounts instead I use a cream soup substitute (do a quick internet search for any number of recipes) and I replaced the 2 C sour cream with 1 C of non-fat greek yogurt and 1/2 C rice milk.

      Forgive the crappy phone pic, it was cloudy, dinner time and I was too lazy to take a proper camera photo.

This recipe was a hit.  It is creamy, cheesy and delicious!   My daughter loved it and finished out the pan.  Unfortunately my son didn't get to try it as he was suffering from a braces adjustment earlier that day.  This sucked for me as I am constantly trying to get the boy to eat some zucchini and he is constantly refusing on the grounds that at 13 he knows what he does and does not like.

All said and done I entered everything into the MyFitnessPal recipe calculator and I think this healthified version is a success.  The amount I made serves 6 as a side dish or if you ate it as an entree (like we did) then it serves 3.  :)

               Side Dish          Original          Entree 
Calories        261                 488.6               522
Total Fat       10g                 43.9g               21g
Sodium        364mg            1060.9mg         728mg
Protein          10g                 12.7g               20g

1 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 tsp salt
3 small potatoes, peeled, shredded
1C non-fat greek yogurt
1/2 C rice milk
1/3C cream soup substitute
2TBSP butter, unsalted, melted
3/4-1C cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4C diced onion

Shred the zukes and sprinkle and toss with the salt in a colander.  Set aside to drain.  Shred potatoes and add to drained zukes.  In a bowl add all other ingredients and mix well.  Squeeze as much water out of the zuke/potato mixture as you can then stir into  bowl.  Bake at 350 in a casserole dish (I didn't prepare the baking dish with any oil but that's a preference too) for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  We are at a high altitude so it has to bake a little longer, use your instincts and what you know about your own oven.  :)  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Upcoming Week Prep

We took a family vacation and were gone for about 3 weeks.  It was amazing.  Technically we were gone for 2 weeks, but I took some extra days off to just chill at home before we got back into the swing of things.  Now that we have been home a full week I am back on schedule.

Today being Sunday I am busy, busy, busy doing laundry for the week (only towels get done mid-week around here) and prepping some food stuffs for meals.  My budget is very tight for the next month (thank you AWESOME VACAY!) so I am super happy the garden has started producing.

  • Beans are bubbling away, I'll have enough for several meals and I like to eat them plain with some quinoa for work lunches.
  • I've planned a couple zucchini and squash meals as my garden has started producing those daily.  
  • Tuesday is supposed to be near 100 degrees and once I get home from work we are doing a big ol' salad dinner with lettuce, red onions & tomatoes from the garden.
  • I'm attempting to dry some dill as well as some dill seed heads for next years garden.  I'll let you know how that turns out.  
  • Quinoa will be made today too.  Enough for the next week's meals.  Stir fry, buffalo chicken casserole, plain as a side and my lunches will all use it up.  
  • If I don't lose my motivation I am hoping to make some granola with some oatmeal, walnuts & dried berries I noticed in the cupboard.  That would be so good instead of boxed cereal for breakfast.
  • School supply shopping is under way.  We found some Justin Bieber (squeals from my 11 year old) spiral notebooks marked down to $0.74 a piece so I grabbed 2 of those.  
  • Bills are paid or marked down to be paid. I went through every bill I have to make sure my auto payments are still good to go.  If it weren't for autopay I would have late fees constantly.

I hope your day is going as well as ours.  :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Breastfeeding pic of the week

Was recently reminded of our society's ridiculous feelings about seeing women breastfeeding their children.  I am back on my soap box and ready to go!

Pablo Picasso, 1905 "Maternity"

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Can't Give Up

I feel compelled to write.  My mind is racing with thoughts, thoughts that I cannot possibly express in an eloquent way.  The thoughts are constantly winding back and forth, one over the other and I can't find a way to make them slow down and line up in order to properly examine them.

What has me in such a state?

Hmmm.  The simple answer is that I just read Mr. Russell Brand's stirring blog post about his newest venture into addiction treatment.  Let me clarify.  It is not Mr. Brand that is in treatment at this moment, it is more his story about what being an alcoholic and drug addict means in his life.  He tells of his truth.  It is beautifully written.  This man is obviously very intelligent and has the soul (and words) of a poet.  You can read his blog here.  Please do take the time to read it.  It is lovely and relevant to my currently twisted mind.

As I read the words I was slowly being taken back to an awful place.  I could see the ashtray littered with cigarette butts, the coffee table covered in empty beer bottles and larger bottles of much stronger liquor (the smell still makes me want to vomit).  I can see that beautiful man, weaving from side to side as he sits slouched on the couch, his dark eyes looking at me, not with love, but filled instead, with contempt and hatred.  I see my husband, my love.  My alcoholic, drug addicted husband and it is a sight that I purposely left behind 11 long years ago and I don't want to ever go back, not even, maybe especially, in my thoughts.

Mr. Brand slowly pulled me into his heroin filled world where reality is the true enemy and drug and alcoholism are the solution, not the problem.  I can honestly say that I think it is amazing that this man has been able to find the way to stop from using that solution. He has managed to do what so many others have not.  He is facing, or altering reality with sobriety instead of numbing himself with the drugs.  That is amazing and I would never want to take away that ability from him.

Mr. Brand has been moved to start a charity to provide funding for treatment.  Treatment for the drunks and addicts.  That is wonderful!  Good for him.  As for me?  Reading his story has my mind wandering to an ugly place.  My love never did get that treatment.  He died, alone, his mind soaking in that 0.34 blood alcohol content.  My kids?  They are trying to find a way to deal with that truth.  The treatment for them?  Years of family counseling in an attempt to deal with the anger and sadness and rage and disappointment that come from being left behind.  My daughter cries every year when she brings home the school announcement saying it is once again time for "Dads and Donuts".  Bring your Dad to school for some sweet treats.  Every year my baby girl cries.  She cries and I am helpless to stop it.  She cries and I will hold her, and I will tell her that it is going to be ok.  After all, "Moms and Muffins" is only a few weeks away.  And I tell her that I am here with her.  I am still here for her.

I am still here and I am feeling...I cannot help but feel...what?  What do I feel?  Anger?  Yes, I am constantly angry when I think of addiction.  I hate what it did to my family.  Jealousy?  That's there as well.  Why didn't my love figure out the solution in time?  Sadness?  Yes.  Guilt?  Absolutely.  As Mr. Brand says, those of us watching the alcoholic "blame themselves and wonder what they could have done differently..."  It has been more than a decade and still, I can't stop myself from wondering if I could have done more.  Maybe I should have stayed.  But I didn't.  I grabbed my then 19 month old son and ran.  I had to run more than 1000 miles away in order to feel safe.  I needed to feel physically safe (drunken drug addicted husbands aren't the nicest of men).  I needed to be far enough away that I wouldn't go back.  I needed a safe space, a space that I could detox from my own addiction to helplessness.  I needed a safe place where myself, my little boy and the baby I was pregnant with could grow without the constant fear of physical and emotional harm.  

I am filled with tears and sadness over so many things.  Tears for my two beautiful children.  The two children that my love chose to leave behind.  Tears for my little girl who is dreaming about her quinceaƱera and she wonders who will dance that first grown up dance in high heels with her?  "Maybe big brother can do it, huh Momma?"  I cry for my amazing son, trying so hard to become a man.  He worries about what kind of man he will be.  I cry because a 13 year old boy shouldn't have to be afraid that the first time he drinks a beer he will become "a jerk" just like his father.  Tears for myself because, dammit, it is freaking hard to raise these two kiddos alone.  Parenting is supposed to be a two person job.  That only pisses me off though and the thoughts go twisting away once again.

I don't know what the future holds.  One day at a time isn't a solution just for the addict.  One day at a time is the solution for those of us watching our loved ones waste away.  One day at a time is the solution for those of us left behind.

As for me?  Well, the solution has never changed.  I have to get out of bed every day.  I have to go take a shower and get dressed.  I have to figure out what we will be eating for dinner and I have to get some laundry going and well, I just have to.  I have to raise my kids.  One day at a time.  Wait.  That's not right.  I should change that.

I get to raise my kids.  Today, I get to be here with them.

And today?  It's my day off.  I'm going to stop thinking about what could have been.  I'm going to put something in the crock pot for dinner.  I'm going to take a shower and put my love and Mr. Brand out of my mind.  Then?  I'm going to pick up my son.  We have an appointment with the family counselor.    

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

I Needa Make Things from Pinterest

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  And again.  And again.

I LOVE  Pinterest.  I have a serious problem.  I decided to start the New Year off right and actually made something that I had pinned, probably, months ago.

I made the "I Needa" car emergency kit.  For the original post go here and check out Rips in My Jeans, a pretty cool blog with a lot of great ideas.

First thing I did was gather everything that I wanted in my car kit.  I had to run to the store to replenish my first aid kit anyway.  Two birds, one stone.

Laying it all out helped me make sure that I'd included everything I needed and wanted.   The original post had a spare diaper which I definitely do not need but I did put in 2 zip close plastic bags for messes (V gets car sick pretty regularly), some tampons for emergencies and a mini flashlight.  The notepad (artwork by my son) and a pen will probably be used the most.

I put the little things in a small plastic box I had lying around.  I think it had herbs or something like that in it originally.  Hooray for repurposing!  Anyway, I put a hair band, lighter, safety pin and paper clips into it to keep them from running away.

I feel like we are always hunting for lotion.  Colorado is so stinking dry.  Aspirin, hand sanitizer, tissues and those perfect little hand warmers.  Also a small knife can come in handy for opening boxes and such in the car.  If I ever find it, I will probably put an actual Swiss Army Knife (or similar knock-off) in instead of this little tape cutter knife.

Do your kids "forget" to brush their teeth?  Constantly?  Mine sure seem to.  I'm not a fan of the disposable anything but if we are heading in to church or somewhere that it matters I will appreciate having these.  So will all the poor unsuspecting victims of my children's unbrushed dragon breath.  

Band-aids are a constant need and I really like being the Mom that has this kind of stuff available.  No close up of the first aid kit, but it has non-latex gloves, gauze, sunscreen, alcohol wipes, benadryl and insect bite cream.

Everything fits neatly and I'm simply gonna slide this behind my car seat where we can grab and go.

I love feeling like I accomplished something today and feel even better that it cost almost nothing.  I asked my little sis to save me the diaper wipe containers.  I just had to buy the toothbrushes (on sale and with a coupon only $0.75) and the gauze for my first-aid kits.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Study Break Snack Time

I have been crazy busy preparing for my 15 page paper on Gynecological and Obstetrical Practices in Tudor England.  Phew.  That is quite a mouthful.

And so was this nummy snack I made.  I have been steadily working my way through this stack of books trying to decide which six I will use for my research.  Most of them are written in Middle English.  Not exactly light reading.

So I was definitely ready to give my eyes a rest.  And believe it or not, all that reading made me pretty hungry.

Which leads to this delicious and nutritious late night snack.

I toasted some wheat bread.  Put just a little bit of tomatillo salsa (extra spicy) on the bread.  Top with some sliced avocado.  Salt and pepper it and add a few drops of hot sauce.

Oh.  My.  Gawd.  This was so good.  The salsa makes the bread just a little soft and the creaminess of the avocado cools down the spiciness of the hot sauce.  I have to remember this the next time I have an extra avocado laying around.  So good.  Anybody have any other quick, nutritious and yummy snack ideas?  After all, I still have another six weeks before this paper is due and that is a whole lot of late nights.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Summer Garden Yumminess

First of all a quick apology.  Almost 3 months and no post.  No excuses, I just haven't gotten around to it.  School is in full swing (95% on my first major Immunology exam-Woot! Woot!).  The car is sitting in a parking lot in a puddle of coolant.




Meanwhile, I am continuing to see a Nutritionist and a counselor in order to get my horrible food habits under control.  Along those lines, the kids and I are getting a lot of gorgeous produce from our community garden.

Pear tomatoes, zucchini, green bell peppers.  Yum!

Our garden bounty has led to some seriously yummy eats around here.  My first creation was going to be pasta with chicken sausage and peppers but at the last minute I decided to use up some potatoes I had laying around.  There is no recipe to go with this one I literally threw it all together with no plan at all.  Cooked the bite size sausage first (I used all-natural, no nitrates, free range chicken sausage).  Then the potatoes.  Then the bite size veggies.  Add sausage back into the pot and seasoned with oregano, salt & pepper and lots of garlic.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE garlic.

 Doesn't that look good?

Onions, peppers, tomatoes & zucchini all from my garden. 

We also made some bruschetta to go with it.  I did not make the bread (although I can when I have the time).  Rosemary and olive oil bread from Costco.  Yellow pear and other tomatoes from my garden with salt, pepper and fresh garlic.  I used pre-made pesto which is why I didn't add any olive oil to my maters.  We have made this at least 4x since this first day.  It is that good.

I am so very glad we decided to give the community garden a try.  It has been hard to get there to water and harvest now that school is our primary focus but it is so worth it.  I have even begun to teach myself how to can some of the extra tomatoes this year.

I hope you are getting to enjoy some delicious fresh produce while the weather is still good.