Three Favorite Summer Low Carb Recipes

I’m trying to make healthier choices, and making wise food choices is the hardest thing for me. I actually enjoy exercise, but I LOVE FOOD. I love to EAT. I think approaching food from a deprivation mindset is a sad way of living. Truett Cathy (the founder of Chick-fil-A) said, “Food is essential to life; therefore, make it good!” I couldn’t agree more! I try to eat low-carb/paleo/ keto meals.

These days my family is enjoying summer meals and lots of delicious produce. Isn’t it great to eat seasonally? Every winter I make tons of soups and roasts, but when summer roles around, I’m all about the grill and fresh produce! We want to eat lighter foods that don’t require too much of a time investment- that way we have more time to linger on the screened porch! Here are three easy, healthy, delicious meals that our entire family really enjoys!

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It took a lot of self control to snap this pic before devouring my meal.  You’re welcome!

 

Recipe #1:  Chili-Rubbed Chicken

I love dry rubs on meat because, unlike marinades, dry rubs don’t require me to think ahead too much. Last night I literally got our meat out of the freezer an hour before mealtime and just ran hot water on it in order to thaw it.

So, here’s the deal: I’m a pretty fluid cook. Recipes aren’t really my thing, and I don’t really care about exact measurements. That being said, I’m certain that you’ll get my drift and be able to get great results.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Make the spice mix. The exact proportions aren’t important. I guesstimate that I used 1/4 cup sea salt, 1/4 c. chili powder, and maybe 1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning. Mix this together.
  2. Prepare chicken. I like to remove the skin and cut the chicken breasts in half (so they cook faster on the grill).
  3. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Make sure you get it allllllll over; you will be so, so sad if you miss a spot! Get the sides, front, back…. everywhere!
  4. Cook it. I love the grill, but last night I ran out of gas (poor me), so I baked the chicken (about 375 degrees for 1 hour or until no pink in the middle).  This chicken is AMAZING both ways- grill or oven- you pick!

Benefit of cooking in the oven: you get lots of gooey, crusty, spicy baked-onto-the-pan bits.

*My kids & I may or may not have voraciously scraped EVERY.LAST.BIT off the pan and stuffed our gooey spatula into our happy mouths.** Don’t judge: you would, too!

NOW: EAT and ENJOY! This stuff goes FAST, so I like to make a double batch.

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Four Zucchini Entered, But Only 1/2 of One Remains

 

Recipe #2: Zucchini Boats

My husband and I love our summer garden, but sometimes the kids aren’t as excited about what our garden produces. They love planting it and watching it grow, but eating from it isn’t exactly their fave. This recipe changed all that! For many years, my daughter had a full-fledged WAR with SQUASH, but MIRACLES DO HAPPEN– PRAISE!!!- she LOVES this meal! And it’s easy peasy!

Directions:

  1. You can use squash or zucchini. I think eggplant would work too, but I haven’t tried that one… yet!
  2. Cut the vegetables in half lengthwise.
  3. Scrape out the middles/ seedy area. Now you have “boats!”
  4. Rub the insides with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  5. Make a meaty spaghetti sauce. FYI: if you’re eating low carb, be careful about spaghetti sauce. It can contain lots of hidden sugar!Read your labels! I like to add extra Italian Seasoning & garlic to make the sauce really flavorful!
  6. Spoon the meaty sauce into the “boats!”
  7. Sprinkle whatever cheese you like on top.
  8. Bake it at about 400 degrees for maybe 30 minutes.
  9. YUM!!

BONUS: If you have a garden overflowing in squash or zucchini, this recipe uses up a lot of veggies! No more piles of produce taking up valuable kitchen counter space!

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Three Empty Kid-Bowls lined up on the counter: M.I.R.A.C.L.E.

 

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This year’s garden isn’t huge (we have our house on the market), but we love it!

Recipe #3: Creamy Lemon-Berry Whipped Dessert

I told you before that I HATE food deprivation, and that extends to desserts. Last night I let my kids have some ice cream w/ berries, and I didn’t want to miss out on the fun OR make an unhealthy choice. I want to be healthy AND eat dessert. And it’s totally possible. TOTES.

Lemon-Berry is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It makes me HAPPY, and I think you’ll like it, too! Here’s watcha do:

  1. Get some heavy whipping cream. (I LOVE real whipped cream, and if you haven’t made it, you’re missing out on a REAL pleasure!) You decide the amount. This can be made as a single serving or for larger amounts. Actually, I tend not to make singl servings; instead, even if I’m just making it for myself, I’ll make two servings so that I can save some for later. Anyway, when it comes to amounts, just eyeball it. For a smaller amount I use maybe 1/3 cup heavy cream. For my family I’d use maybe 2 cups.
  2. Dump however much whipping cream you want into your mixing bowl. Now whip that thing on HIGH. In a short while you’ll see that it gets thick and creamy.
  3. Add some cream cheese. For just me, I use maybe 1/4 bar of cream cheese, but if I was making this for my family, I’d use a full bar. Mix it all up together. Whip it lake you’re crazy from delicious yumminess (Cue music: she’s a maniac, maniac, I sure know! And she’s cooking like she’s never cooked before….!)
  4. Add lemon flavoring to taste. I had lemon oil on hand (like what’s used to make hard candy), but you could also use lemon extract.
  5. Add sweetener to taste. I’m using Trim Healthy Mama’s Gentle Sweet, but use whatever you want.
  6. Put in a dish & top with berries.
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Every summer, I love spending time outside working in the yard! This girl got no time for a hot kitchen!

 

Last night I packed up our dinner & we headed to a local park for a picnic, hike, and time in the creek.  Goooood food and gooooood times! Live life like ya mean it!

I hope that you’re enjoying your summer! Eat good food, party with your friends and family, and soak up the sun!

 

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When Kids Minister to Parents

My husband went out of town a few days ago, and he’s supposed to be gone for a couple weeks. This busy summer is pulling me like I’m a Gumby figurine fought over by a bunch of selfish toddlers, and with him now gone, this week all that pressure came to a miserable, explosive head. In the midst of taxiing my kids to soccer camp, juggling my pre-teen’s drama, and trying to make healthy choices (another stressor), I LOST. IT.

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I won’t go into the details, but I suffice it to say that my 11 yr. old either made a mistake or purposefully disobeyed me (I can’t know which…the dreadful reality of parenting), but either way, she caused me stress, and I didn’t respond well. After a day filled with other childish shenanigans, in the middle of Joann’s Fabric, I angrily lashed out at her and said things NO ONE should hear. I’m guilty of the common sin of saying something permanently hurtful because I was temporarily frustrated. My poor, poor girl!

Very quickly, I tried to make up for my terrible words. I apologized. We group hugged. I asked for forgiveness. I tried to make amends. My kids were gracious and forgiving, but even so, by the time bedtime rolled around, I was 1000% ready for a BREAK!

But did my kids want to go to bed? Do kids EVER want to go to bed?? After I tucked them in, I hugged them, but they wanted more. Looking back, I can see that after our difficult day, they actually NEEDED more! But at that time, REST was all I really wanted! As I desperately desired to close their doors and collapse in my own bed, my youngest made a request:

Mommy, sing me my baby song.

(I have a “baby song” for each of my kids; it’s a little thing I do for each of my newborns, and something I occasionally sing for them.)

Now, as you can probably surmise, I absolutely did NOT want to sing. I wanted silence. I wanted pillows. I wanted isolation, but Sylva wanted a reminder that I love her, so in my tiniest, softest voice—about all I could really muster—I gave her that song:

When I think of you, I think wind through the trees

Crisp autumn days, and bright swirling leaves

Sweet baby Sylva, your momma loves you

She thinks you’re wonderful….

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(Credit: “Windy Autumn Day” by Lilia D.)

I felt better as the song ended, and I still wanted to go to bed.

BUT SYLVA WASN’T FINISHED….

Mommy, sing Rosie her baby song.

In my pitiful, self-absorbed state, I whispered back that I didn’t think Rosie wanted her baby song. I didn’t think Rosie wanted anything from me. Honestly, I think she just wanted me to leave her alone. Because my two girls share a room, Rose probably overheard my whispers, and being the girl she is, she didn’t contradict me. Still, Sylva persisted.

Mommy, sing Rosie her baby song. Don’t return evil for evil.

In that moment, my eyes welled up, and my hard, tired heart swelled. I’m not the best at teaching my children scripture—that’s a whole other subject—but here was my 6-year-old, encouraging me in the exactly right way. She perfectly ministered scripture to me, and our family desperately needed it!

I sat down on Rose’s lower bunk and stroked her beautiful hair and whisper-sang

I love you more than sunshine on a bright summer’s day

I love you more than Christmas or going out to play

I love you so much Rosie, my heart just overflows

I’ve got to give you kisses from your toes up to your nose!

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Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/21/first-day-of-summer-2013-june-21_n_3472964.html

Like a broken colt, my strong-willed tweenager accepted my love in a way she’d bucked all week, and when I finally did close her bedroom door, I did it with a clean heart.

Although I eventually did collapse on my bed in sweet, introverted, isolated oblivion, before I did so, I made my way into my son’s room where I also sang him his “baby song.”

….You were my little baby

But now you’re my big boy

You’re the apple of your momma’s eye

And daddy’s pride and joy!

And after that, my family slept under our roof, glad to make it together through our imperfect, sad day and hoping to again never see a day like it.

 

Moral of the story: Pour scripture into your children, and it will overflow into your own life! Also, say NO to stuff so you can say YES to your kids!