Sigh, Christmas is over. And what a Christmas it was. I now find myself trying to readjust my eating habits that have been thrown off-kilter by holidays and travel and those candy cane Hershey kisses that aren’t actually a meal replacement (not even an entire bag, it turns out.) The last thing I want to hear while trying to get back into my normal eating flow is the burgeoning chatter of New Year’s diets. If I see one more suggested online ad about holiday belly bloat, I may throw up all that candy from my Christmas stocking.
I just have this complex about people demonizing certain food groups without facts, much less common sense, in the name of weight loss. We get it a lot with carbs and fat, viewing any such content in food as potential muffin tops instead of macronutrient energy stores. Am I saying eat only simple carbs or spoonfuls of shortening? No (please, please no.)
Coming from someone who has tried every passing diet fad because of body image issues, I know that my best body performance comes from a balanced diet of whole foods as well as trusting myself to eat less nutrient dense foods in moderation for craving and social reasons. Let’s not forget a good sleep routine, regular exercise, taking my medication, calming my stress and anxiety levels as best as I can- yeah, it’s almost like nutritional health isn’t as stupidly simple as the creators of silly diets would like you to think.
Don’t get me wrong: regimented diets certainly have their time and place. And I’m nowhere near an expert on nutrition or life choices in general. It was a strange experience going on vacation this past summer after my mom found out that she, like my step-father, is diabetic. It became very apparent after a meal or two into our beach week that 1. I consume an obscene amount of sugar 2. carbs are so much more prevalent in a normal American diet than I realized. This wasn’t just ditching bread and calling it a day.
So I’ve been dying to share this recipe with my parents since I found out it hit every required note: delicious, simply low-carb without a ton of substitutions, and (perhaps most importantly) able to showcase the flavors of bacon and cheese.
Y’all, these bacon and mozzarella zucchini fritters with lemon-dill Greek yogurt dip… pardon my lack of eloquence but hooommmmyyyygaaaaahhhh. I adapted these (meaning I just added 3 strips of cooked bacon and a handful of mozzarella cheese) from this 5-Ingredient Zucchini Fritters recipe from Just a Taste. On our next vacation, I’ll sub in some almond flour and there you go, fam! A low-carb meal that will satisfy kids and adults.
Another minor deviation from my picture attempt was a little bit of the methodology; as I’m kind of really lazy, I used my spiralizer to easily cut the zucchini into smaller pieces. After cooking the veggies, I tossed them in my food processor and gave it a few pulses for a perfect shredded consistency. Rather than topping these little guys with just sour cream, I threw together a dip based on another zucchini fritter recipe from Natural Girl Modern World. Eyeball some Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, and fresh dill- perfect cool contrast to these freshly cooked fritters. As leftovers for lunch, these heated up brilliantly in the office toaster oven and caught a few co-workers’ eyes.
A vegan lifestyle can also be difficult to maintain. I have tried (and quickly lapsed out of) many attempts to eat a completely plant-based diet. Aside from a few physically problematic aspects, my vigilance over ingredient lists quickly became obsessive. Mad respect to anyone who sticks to these food choices and way-mad-so-incredibly-much respect to anyone who is maintaining a vegan lifestyle and steady recovery from an eating disorder.
Still, despite this and my love of certain animal products (did you read the above?) I enjoy finding solid vegan-friendly recipes for both a good culinary challenge and friends. One can only eat so much Chipotle, right? But one could certainly eat plenty of these mushroom-stuffed potato cakes.
This recipe from Imagelicious caught my eye on Pinterest immediately. The author’s pictures are much more appealing than mine, I’m afraid, but I like to think that we both had the same tasty result. If you didn’t hear me say po-ta-to earlier, yes, this is a meal for the carb-loving herbivore or omnivore. I really promise- swear up and down- that carbs are not evil incarnate. Carbs equal energy. I saw a huge leap in my exercise performance when I ate an apple or toast about a half hour before heading to the gym. Yes, I’m looking at you, fellow gym rat who also has a stockade of protein powders gathering dust in the kitchen pantry. Not to mention that one medium potato can give you 45% of your daily Vitamin C requirement (and the iron and the zinc and so many good things.)
A single modification made my version non-vegan- I knoooowwwwww but I have an open container of Greek yogurt that needs to be used this week and I was scared of dry potatoes. THERE, I SAID IT. Although I was tempted to also add butter and an egg, I resisted to try to keep the recipe integrity somewhat intact. Since I put maybe half a cup of Greek yogurt into three mashed potatoes, I honestly don’t think it was enough to make a huge texture difference. If you share my trepidation, vegan sour cream or (for the non-vegan folks) my above butter and eggs could be used. I also integrated diced red onion and minced garlic directly in the potato mixture, which turned out to be a great idea when frying. Potatoes are such a beautiful blank canvas so let your carb imagination carry you wherever, my dear.
I initially tried baking these at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes rather than pan frying. If I were to do that again, I’d make it 30 minutes (note that my oven is a bit shoddy so please adjust to your own) and flip them halfway through. That night, I tried frying the baked leftovers in some olive oil over medium heat and it definitely brought out more of the garlic and onion, as well as adding some texture. And the next day, I tried simply throwing these in the office toaster oven for lunch, which led to a lukewarm center and subsequent microwave nuke. I don’t think I’ll be making mass batches of these but they’re definitely a hardier alternative for vegans who are tired of repetitive pasta.
And that wraps up my last food post for 2015! If you’re a fan of these, please follow my food Pinterest board (or any of my boards) to get a preview for my next attempted recipes. It’s my first (and usually only) stop for hunting down new food ideas on the regular. Also keep an eye out for a year-end post that should be posted tomorrow night. Until then, leave me comments below about any recent amazing food experiences or send me a pin for cool recipes to check out on Pinterest!
Be kind. Live authentically. Practice gratitude. Hustle daily. Work hard. Stay humble.
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