A Tale of Two Processors

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was given a food processor.  I did not have one, and was trying to make do with a blender to make horseradish with fresh horseradish root from my garden.  My other-mother Liz (who has been best friends with my mom since they were 9 years old and has always been there for me for my entire life), took pity on me and gave me a food processor she owned, but didn’t use.  I was thrilled.  It was a beautiful Cuisinart Pro Custom 11.  It had a whole bunch of different attachments for slicing, shredding, chopping, and mixing, and the 11-cup size was just perfect for me.  It was love at first sight.

I have used this food processor multiple times weekly – for over 30 years now.  Every time I pull it out to use it, I think of Liz and how much I appreciate her sweet gift.  It’s one of my most treasured kitchen gizmos.

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So imagine my dismay when I pulled out my old, trusty food processor on Saturday to rice my cauliflower, and was met with total silence.   My old girl just wouldn’t work.  She didn’t make any noise.   Flashbacks of our amazing (and even a few crazily unsuccessful) recipes that we created together over all the years came flooding back at me.  The old girl had whirred her last batch.  :(

All attempts at resuscitation failed in spite of my sweet hubby’s valiant efforts. 

After a respectful mourning period which involved equal parts of humming taps,  whining,  and lamenting the fact that I would now have to grate the whole big head of cauliflower by hand, I set off on researching a replacement.  Because my old girl had served me so faithfully for so long (and because Consumer Reports rated her so highly still), I decided to replace my old girl with a new version of the same exact model.  And using some of my superhuman shopping skills (this is my ONE superpower), I was able to get an AMAZING deal on this new girl.  Better yet, she arrived in one business day.

And that day was today.

Ta-da!  Introducing, the new, the lovely, the shiny and amazing . . . .

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Isn’t she pretty?

While I unpacked her, I hugged her and bonded with her and we made plans for our lovely future together, beginning with just what I would let her make for me first.

Other than the shiny stainless steel finish, she is an exact replica, including all the extra attachments. Apparently even Cuisinart realized that they achieved perfection and found no reason to change the design in the last 30+ years.

While introducing her to my hubby, he was looking over all her parts and noticed something.  He asked where the old food processor was, and I quickly brought her in and set her down next to the new girl.  He looked at the old lid, then looked at the new lid, and with an adjustment of a twist and a snap and a click, my old girl whirred back to life.

(It turns out her feeder tube was not clicked back into the proper place to make the engine work.  That alone should teach me to never, ever again take it apart and clean it so carefully).

OH. EM. GEE.  Are you kidding me?  Now what do I do?  I LOVE my old, faithful girl, and have 30+ years of bonding with her.  But my NEW girl is SO SHINY and so – so new!  And I got SUCH a DEAL!  And I already have bonded with her.

So here’s my dilemna.  Now I am stuck with two awesome fully-functioning food processors.  And that is my Tale of Two Processors.

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Tea Time

I love tea.  It has amazing health properties for me.  No, it’s not loaded with vitamins and minerals.  It DOES contain antioxidants, but that’s not the health benefit I’m going for either.  There’s just something about the warm, fragrant mixture that just soothes my soul.  I love holding the cup of warmth between my hands.  I love feeling it make it’s way down into my stomach, spreading it’s warmth along every inch of it’s journey.  I love enjoying it in a special tea cup, and the ritual of choosing WHICH tea and WHICH cup just adds to the whole feeling of some much needed self-care.

That being said, in my 51 years of loving tea, I have accumulated a LOT of tea paraphernalia.  I have widdled down my collection many times, but still have many special pieces.  Here are a few of them.

These five belonged to my great grandmother (along with several others pictured in this blog).

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This is one I picked up antiquing many years ago.  So elegant, so dainty, so classy . . .

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. . . until you add this.

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I LOVE tea infusers.  I had always used the standard type of tea infusers for my loose tea until my son, Nick, who knows me so well and always finds me the most perfect gifts, started my tea infuser obsession with the cutest little rubber ducky infuser.  It would just make me laugh to see this little rubber ducky bobbing away in my tea cup.  And the fancier the tea cup, the funnier it would seem to me.  I love this whimsical mix.

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From there, my collection continued to grow right along with my obsession.

This tea cup is part of an entire antique tea set that my mom gave me for my 30th birthday – except for the hippo, of course.

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This is the newest tea cup for my collection, from my sweet friend GG – with my pink flamingo infuser.

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Another tea cup from my great grandmother, along with an umbrella infuser – nice for a rainy day.

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Nothing like a fat bald man using my antique tea cup as his hot tub.

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A little scuba diver for another of my great grandmother’s tea cups.

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Yes, it’s a mana-tea.🙂  In a beautiful tea cup from Victoria Secret that Nick gave me for Christmas when he was 10 years old.

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Tea-rex  in tea-cup🙂

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Yet another tea cup from my great grandmother, with a little whale.

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A yellow submarine in a sweet antique store find

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My most prized tea cup of all is this one.

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It is so teeny tiny.  I actually have two of these, with a little matching sugar and creamer.  They are Noritake china, and were my grandmother’s playset when she was a little girl.  She told me there were actually more cups at one time, but this is what is left, and I’m so grateful to have these.  I keep this one cup in one of my Gram “shrines” I have in my home, along with some special photo’s of her in various stages of her life.

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This prized tea cup comes in most handy when I have company for tea.

 

Not feeling well? Bad day? Hurting heart? Well, just grab a pretty tea cup, a whimsical infuser  – and a furry friend never hurts – and let that magical cup of tea go to work to soothe away any and all booboo’s.

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Lily Love

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This time of the Summer makes the lilies come alive.  No words needed.  Just enjoy these beauties from my garden like I do.

 

These two are similar in color, but so different in size.  The ones on the left are average -sized Stella D’Oro Daylillies.  The ones on the right are huge!

See? Bigger than my hand!

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I love all the colors they come in.

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I especially love the water lilies

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Look closely at this one . . . it has a little visitor.

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Isn’t he cute?🙂

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Lucky little bug.  How nice it would be to live in a beautiful lily.  <3

 

 

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Vacation with GG

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I just got back from a wonderful trip to Illinois.  It was truly a special time with my very special friend.

GG and I “met” online in a group for cat lovers about 5 years ago.  She has visited me several times now, and I was very excited to go visit her this time.  I’ve never been to her part of the country before, and GG was such a wonderful hostess and showed me so many wonderful things.  Especially wonderful things to EAT.  Eating is my favorite.  :)

The Chicago area is famous for several foods.  We started my food tour with some Chicago deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s right next to the Northwestern University campus. This pizza was soooooo good!  They also have a special salad dressing in this restaurant that has a very unique sweetness to it.  They serve it on their house salad that has blue cheese in it.  The intense blue cheese flavor mixed with the sweet salad dressing was delicious.

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I also had the chance to try another Chicago specialty – an Italian Beef sandwich from Portillo’s.  Also delicious!

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And if my orange-stained fingers are any indication, the Chicago popcorn from Kernel’s Gourmet Popcorn was a big hit.  This is a combination of caramel corn and cheese popcorn all mixed together.  Don’t make a face – it’s a yummy and crazily addictive flavor blend of sweet and salty all in one bite.

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GG and I also had the opportunity to continue my education in Armenian cooking.  I have learned to make several things so far from her last visit, such as cold sarma, paklava, boureg, mante, and lahmajun. (I sure hope I spelled these things correctly!)  This time we messed up HER kitchen making a hot sarma . . .

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. . . which we enjoyed with some yogurt, and a great madagh which we served over bulgar wheat.

 

It was SO delicious, and of course, so much fun to cook together.  I’m hoping that my love of Armenian food will help me to become an honorary member of GG’s family.  :)

 

OK, so no, of course not . . . I did not only just eat while I was in Illinois.  :)  We did some really fun things!  GG picked me up from the airport and took me through Chicago all the way up Sheridan drive where all the most gorgeous coastal homes are.  I think our heads were going to snap off our necks from the constant looking left – then right – then left again – trying to see every magnificent home along this route.  After that we took an architectural boat tour.

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What started out to be a really great boat tour quickly got soggy when our open-air boat full of people for the one-hour-and-fifteen-minute ride got caught in an unexpected rain.  And not just a light rain!  It was a SOAKING rain.  The kind that makes your fingers all pruney and makes the money in your purse stay wet for days.

 

But all we could do is laugh, because really, what else could we do?🙂

 

One day we went to this adorable little town called Morris.  We started our day there at the 3 French Hens Market – a wonderful outdoor market place filled with antiques, artisans, baked products, plants, and farmers’ market.  It was the most perfect Summer day – warm and sunny with no humidity, and both of us found some treasures while meandering through the rows.  After the market, we went to Lettie May’s Tea Room.  I know I won’t be able to do justice with my description of this amazingly adorable vintage tea room, so here are some pictures.

It’s the most wonderful collection of vintage aprons, wallpaper, plates, tablecloths, napkins, chairs, tea cups and pots . . . just adorable! I’ve been to a LOT of tearooms, but this one is just the best and  truly one of the hilights of my whole trip.  I just adore this place.❤

 

One night we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant called Carlucci’s at the recommendation of friends of  mine.  They told us of this amazing dish this restaurant serves where they take hot pasta and swirl it inside the center of an entire wheel of Parmesan cheese.  Swirl, scrape some more cheese from the center, swirl some more . . . and then scoop it onto a plate of prosciutto and peas.

It was to die for!

That was just our appetizer.  We also enjoyed some filet, shrimp scampi, veal marsala, salad, flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and creme brulee – all washed down with a wonderful Malbec.

We were lucky to have a great waiter all evening, and he even brought us a nice “digestif”. It was a really special evening.

 

One morning I woke up to this.

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GG has wonderful family who allowed us to stay at their beautiful lake-front cottage in Wisconsin.

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While here, we were treated to boat rides, brunch at a lovely place on yet another lake, and a cookout with many of GG’s lovely family members later in the day.   It was such a nice day at a truly magical place.

 

So what was my favorite part of this whole wonderful trip? Well, other than spending time with my very special friend, I would have to say I have TWO favorite parts.

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These two lovelies are GG’s furkids,  Jin Jin and Jazzy.  They are so sweet, playful and affectionate in addition to being stunningly handsome and beautiful. . . in other words, perfectly Himalayan in every way.

 

GG kept asking me just how many pictures of these two I was going to take. Well, after coming home and going through all my photos from the trip and deleting all the bad pictures of these two beauties (bad through no fault of their own, but bad only because of my poor photography skills), I’m proud to admit that I have no less than 100 photos of just Jin Jin and Jazzy.  I am hopelessly in love with them.

 

Thank you, GG, Jin Jin and Jazzy for inviting me into your loving family.  You’re all fabulous hosts and hostesses, and I miss you all like crazy already.❤

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Date Night

We had a lovely summer Date Night last night. 


The weather was just beautiful, so we started with appetizers on the deck. . . Smoked Gouda cheese with fresh garden pesto, a little baguette, some shrimp cocktail and an orange Cosmo. 


Then we added a few of our special friends to the dinner. 


After we gave them a special soak in the hot tub, they made it to the table just in time for dinner. 


We added my favorite salad – shaved asparagus with toasted pistachios, shavings of ricotta salata, and a light lemon vinaigrette. 


And one of our favorite champagnes. 



Then we topped off the whole meal with a skinny chocolate cheesecake. 


I just love Date Night! But that’s probably because I’m blessed to always have the BEST date. ❤️

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Cup Plant

One of the interesting plants I have in my gardens is my Cup Plant. My Aunt Loreen gave it to me from her plant at her home in NJ. I love this plant for many reasons, and the fact that it came from auntie makes it all that more special. 

I love how this plant is tall and strong and grows in size every year. It has a beautiful very dark green stalk with huge leaves that hold the rain in big visible water droplets. 


It just bloomed this week with its first flower. It flowers profusely before long – bright, beautiful yellow-gold flowers. 


I just love these happy flowers. 

You can see by the first picture that it blooms outside of a window. This is a smaller window in my family room. 

Last year when I was so very sick and couldn’t do much more than sit in my medical recliner all day, this was the only part of my garden I was able to see. I can’t even tell you how happy this flowering Cup Plant made me.  One of the many things I missed last year was playing in my beautiful gardens.  I felt like these flowers were peeking in the window and smiling at me. 


I love how this plant now shows me just how far I’ve come. Thank God for this new and better year. 

Welcome back, beautiful Cup Plant flowers. It’s SO nice to see you from the outside this year. ❤️

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This Week’s Menu

After a week of vacation, we are both badly in need of some food discipline.  I’m a big believer of 80/20 – eat healthy and disciplined at least 80% of the time, and keep your unhealthy food choices to exceptions only, no more than 20% of your intake.  Except for vacations – vacations are always the exception!  And if you’re like us and enjoy your adult beverages, you need to count those in your 20%.

We’ve had all kinds of unhealthy things to eat this past week.  And we ate way too much of them to boot.  But they were OH-so-delicous.

Dessert Trio anyone?  Um, yeah, I definitely did not turn this combination down.  img_2598

 

Because we don’t deny ourselves these exceptions, it makes it all the easier to get back on track and eat healthy again.  We don’t like the direction the scale took this week, nor do we like the bloated, icky feeling we get from having eaten the way we have.

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Back on the wagon for us!  And with a whole bunch of new healthy recipes to try.  Hope you find some inspiration for some new healthy and delicious meals to whip up at your house.

 

Sunday:       Easy Chicken Piccata over Zoodles

Monday:      Stuffed Peppers using Cauliflower Rice

Tuesday:      Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

Wednesday: Spinach & Feta Stuffed Tilapia with Greek Green Bean Salad

Thursday:     Chorizo Sausage Sweet Potato Frittata with Carmelized Onions

Friday:           Special Date Night – Shrimp Cocktail, Lobsters, Shaved Asparagus Salad with

                         Pistachios and Ricotta Salata, Champagne

Saturday:       Steak Fajitas in Lettuce Cups

Sunday:          Roasted Chicken & Veggies

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Veggie Garden

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So far, so good!

The veggie garden is really doing well!  I think it thrives on all the attention it gets.  I really cram way too much into such a small space, so it will be interesting to see what I actually get out of it for edibles.  I give all the veggies lots of pep talks about getting along together, so I’m hoping that helps.   It all looks good at this point, but I’m most definitely learning as I go.

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In addition to watering and pruning back and trying to train climbers to move in the right direction, there is tons of weeding that always needs to be done.

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Clearly not my best side, but it gets the job done.

 

Love my new hose and roller that my hubby set up for me.  It makes dragging the hose down 100 feet to water the veggies so much easier.

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The scallions were fabulous and are finished with for now.  I’ll plant more towards the Fall when it gets cooler.

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The cucumbers are starting to appear.  I have far too many plants crammed into the little space allocated for cucumbers, so I hope they’ll be ok.

 

 

The fennel is looking great.  I have never grown fennel before, so I don’t really know what to expect.  And add the little bastard caterpillers that I’ve discovered, this fennel crop is very interesting.  But it’s really growing.

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The peas are full of flowers and pods that are just starting to fatten up.

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So many zucchini flowers.  I used to stuff these with cheese, then batter and fry them.  They are sooooo delicious.  But I won’t this year since we’re trying to eat more healthy.  No sign of flowers on the spaghetti squash yet, but I hope they’ll start soon.  I’m trying to train these to climb, so we’ll see how that experiment goes.  I have 10 squash plants crammed into a small space, so if I can get them to go vertical, it should all work out.

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The radishes are almost ready.   I picked the first one today, but it really should have been left in just a little bit longer.

Did I mention that I don’t really even LIKE radishes?  I know I’ll love these, though.  There’s just something so amazing about growing your own food!

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The eggplant and tomatoes are starting to flower.

 

I have no clue about these rainbow carrots.  I haven’t grown carrots before, so I don’t know when they’ll be ready to pick.  I hope it will become obvious.  These are rainbow carrots, so I’m excited.  The greens look really good anyway!

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Pictured are the zucchini, spaghetti squash, peas, scallions, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  See what I mean?  It’s CROWDED!

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The herbs are doing well, and some of the greens and lettuces are done already, but tonight we’re going to have a Looseleaf lettuce salad with our dinner.  It’s perfect today!

 

Keep up the good work, veggies!🙂

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The Unwanted Visitors

While checking out the garden today, I found this cute little guy on one of my fennel plants.

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“How pretty” you might be saying.  Well, yes, you’re right.  Kudos to God once again for creating something so beautiful and interesting.

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However, upon closer inspection, I found EIGHT of these cute little guys on my fennel plants,  and I promptly flung them all out of my garden. (Yes, there was some squealing involved as I dropped one on my foot and another one almost touched my hand).

After taking pictures, I came in and looked them up.  It turns out they’re Eastern Black Swallowtails, and will grow to look like this.

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Wow!  How awesome! That was in the first part of what I read.  Next I read that the female apparently laid a bunch of eggs on my fennel, it’s host plant.  The eggs developed into the adorable little caterpillers that I found.

Then I read the next line, which explains that the caterpillers will EAT their host plant.  I DON’T THINK SO.  As much as I love butterflies, I’m not willing to sacrifice my fennel crop.  I will continue to monitor my fennel  (and apparently they love dill, parsley and carrots too!) and attempt to relocate these little bastards.  (Notice how “these cute little guys” turned into “little bastards” when I learned that they’re going to try and eat my garden!).

Apparently, I’m going to have to capture them all in a container and drive them across the state border, as this one is already trying to make his way back to my garden.  Grrr.

STAY OUTTA MY FENNEL!

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This Week’s Menu

After over-indulging on sandwiches, pizza and cake yesterday at my oldest granddaughter’s graduation party, we’re ready to get back on track with our healthy eating.

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I only need a few recipes for this week, since we’re out and about and eating at other places, so in addition to the recipes I’m planning for this week, I’ll include some good recipes I’ve used in the past couple of weeks and haven’t yet shared.

Tonight I’m making Oven Baked Italian Meatballs with Marinara over Spaghetti Squash.  I’ll have enough of this to have leftovers for Wednesday’s dinner.  Tomorrow night I’m making Lemon Garlic Chicken Zoodles.

On Friday, I’m lucky enough to have our granddaughter, Reese staying with us, so I think I’ll let her choose our meal, and then we can cook it together.  Reese is also going to help me bake all the special requests the grandkids have made for our upcoming family vacation at the Jersey Shore: whoopie pies for Cole, chocolate cake cookies for Mack, black bottom brownies for their dad, Dave (the biggest kid of all) and white cupcakes with buttercream frosting for Reese.  I don’t think I have to tell you that not one of these three recipes is the least tiny bit “clean”.  In fact, they are filthy dirty – and OH, so yummy!🙂

I’m also making a couple of my idol, Ina Garten’s, recipes for dinner one night at the shore.  I’m making Mustard Marinated Flank Steak and Roasted Veggie Orzo Salad.  The steak I will marinate in ziplock bags and take to the shore with us.  It makes for a very quick and easy, throw-on-the-grill dinner after a day on the beach.  I’ll also make the salad before I go.  Let me just talk about this salad for a minute.  This is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.  Everyone who tries it loves it too, and I get many requests to bring this.  Sometimes I make it just for us to keep in the fridge and munch on for lunches for the week.  It’s just that good.  I’m going to try it with some spiralized (and chopped) veggies in place of the orzo and see if it’s still as tasty.  This way, it would fit in with our clean-eating plan.

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I know that many people still shudder at the idea of healthy eating, but it doesn’t have to be scary.  Take some of your much-loved family favorites, make a few easy adjustments, and voila: you can still enjoy the flavor, without all the extra fat and calories!  It’s a win/win!

Here are a few of the best recipes we’ve had lately:

One-Pan Lasagna with Ribbon Zuchini Noodles

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Chicken Zucchini Fritters

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Lemon Rosemary Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

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Zoodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto to which I added Chicken Spinach Sausage

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Slow Cooker Beef Tacos in lettuce cups

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I hope this gives you some good ideas to add something different to your meal plan.  This would be my favorite meal plan of choice:

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