What veggie can I not get enough of right now?

What veggie can I not get enough of right now?

By: Leanne Ely


It’s time for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe! And in honor of this most ultimate summer squash, today we’re giving it the attention it deserves. Sound good?

Zucchinis are packed with beta-carotene, potassium and B vitamins. They also provide fiber and a bit of Vitamin C, but a large zucchini contains only 16 calories!

While zucchini can be used in muffin and loaf recipes, I prefer to eat it in its pure form, simply stir fried as a simple side dish. Oh you know what else is good? Grated zucchini sautéed in olive oil and a bit of garlic with salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious and almost rice-like in texture.

This is one versatile and delicious veggie!


Now, it’s time for your Trick:

If you don’t know what to do with all that zucchini in your garden, grate it up and put it in the freezer, sealed individually in one-cup servings.

Your Tip:

Select small to medium sized zucchini if you’re eating them for flavor. The bigger guys start to lose their taste after awhile. They’re okay for purposes like zucchini bread, but they won’t do much for you in a stir fry.

And your Recipe from our new 21 Day Knock Out!

Fried Egg and Veggie Skillet
Serves 4

2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 pound zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
4 large eggs

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: In a very large skillet over medium high heat, melt half the coconut oil. Add onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in thyme.

Move the veggies to the outer edges of the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining coconut oil. Crack eggs into the center and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip eggs over and fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until eggs reach desired doneness.

Carefully scoop vegetables out and top with eggs. Season eggs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

If you want more tasty recipes to help you stay on track and get ready for summer, join me on our new 21 Day Knock Out here!

10 ways to serve boneless chicken breasts for a quick and healthy dinner

10 ways to serve boneless chicken breasts for a quick and healthy dinner

By: Leanne Ely


Chicken breasts are a great starting point for a delicious and healthy meal. They’re a very lean source of protein and an excellent item to serve to your family on a regular basis.

And I promise you that there’s an endless number of ways you can cook chicken breasts so that you don’t end up boring everyone to death with a plain, unappetizing, dried out hunk of poultry!

The following is a list of ten different ways you can serve chicken breasts so that you keep things interesting in the kitchen!

Kabobs. I’m not sure why it’s so much fun to eat meat on a stick but it is! Kabobs are simple. Cut your chicken breasts in chunks and marinate them for a few hours in your favorite spices and yogurt or coconut milk. Thread them onto stainless steel skewers (or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes) and grill! Some folks like to put veggies on their chicken kabobs, but I highly recommend doing your meat and veggies separately. Why? Because the veggies get burnt to heck waiting for your meat to cook, that’s why 🙂

Stir fry. A staple in my home! What could be easier than chasing some chicken strips and colorful veggies around the pan? There are a million ways to make a stir fry, so I recommend experimenting with sauces and veggie combinations until you nail one that your family loves.

Salad. I particularly like making salads with leftover chicken breast on top. Start with a big bowl of greens and top with your favorite veggies. If you’re feeding kids, try letting them top their own salads and spread everything out like a buffet. Try items like avocado slices, diced tomato, purple cabbage, almonds, chicken, bacon, cheese, boiled eggs, red pepper strips—make it colorful and exciting, and let the kids choose their favorite things. Mix up a simple vinaigrette and you have a wonderful meal.

Chicken fingers. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t get excited about chicken fingers. It’s dead easy to make chicken fingers at home. Even if you’re gluten free, you can enjoy chicken fingers with your little ones. Simply dredge your sliced chicken in coconut milk and then dip in a mixture of almond flour and coconut. Salt and pepper to taste. Spritz with some olive oil and bake. Serve with a little Dijon/honey mixture. Yum!

Wrap. Paleo, gluten free and low carb folks can all enjoy a tasty wrap! Simply choose your favorite “wrap” alternative, be it a piece of Boston lettuce or a cabbage leaf, and stuff it with your favorite fixings. You can do Fajitas this way by adding some avocado, salsa and other Mexican-style toppings, or just add some veggies and mayo of your choosing. Or maybe do club sandwich style and use bacon and tomato on there (you have the “L” of your sandwich covered with the lettuce wrap). Who’s getting hungry here?

Soup. Soup doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out affair! You can put a delicious pot of soup on the table in a relatively quick period of time. Take stock of what’s in the refrigerator and use your imagination. Start with a homemade broth (cheaper and easier than the stuff in the carton) and add whatever you like, but always start with onions, carrots and celery for a good starting place.

Sauté. If you cook your chicken breasts on the stove in a mixture of butter and olive oil *just* until they’re cooked, you can dress them up in an endless number of ways. Top them with anything you like, from a simple honey mustard glaze to a balsamic reduction. Serve with a big salad, quinoa, mixed steamed veggies, etcetera, etcetera.

Healthy popcorn chicken. Much like the chicken fingers mentioned above, but made with cubed chicken rather than sliced! Who doesn’t like popcorn chicken?

Pasta. Add cubed chicken to your favorite pasta. Whether it’s classic pasta, a Paleo-friendly zucchini noodle, or a gluten-free pasta of some sort, you can’t go wrong by adding chicken. And bacon—there’s always bacon!

BBQ. Chicken breasts and grill marks just go together so well. If you plan on cooking chicken breasts on the BBQ be sure to marinate your meat in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar and spices. Marinating meat in some kind of acid, plus olive oil before grilling helps to reduce the amount of carcinogens absorbed by the meat through the BBQ process.

Chicken is a great cheap protein—take advantage of sales at the grocery store, stock up and then make some great freezer meals for later!

chicken10 easy recipes

Not Your Mother’s Tuna Casserole

Not Your Mother’s Tuna Casserole

Dinner Diva
Not Your Mother’s Tuna Casserole

By: Leanne Ely

All home cooks appreciate the ease of accomplishment of doing dinner the one-pot way. When your family is busy and going in a million different directions, being able to make dinner in one pot, plunk down a salad and yell, “Dinner!” in the time it takes to boil pasta, is critical mass for any hectic family’s arsenal of timesaving tricks.

Fifteen years ago, I entered a cooking contest called Not Your Mother’s Tuna Casserole. They were looking for a newer, hipper tuna casserole recipe, not that kind we all hated as kids with nasty canned peas or cream of mushroom soup.

The rules of the contest had the following criteria: one pot, no canned soups (had to mention it again—you know how I feel about canned soups!) but allowed you to use ONE convenience food. Interestingly, I had a recipe that I had made up one night when inspiration and ingredients were both lacking. It met all of the above-mentioned guidelines and in fact, had become so popular with my kids that they requested it more than once for their birthday dinners! So on a lark, I entered the contest.

When I won, I decided fate was calling me and I became a cookbook author (7 cookbooks and counting!). Yes, you could say the rest is history! So without further adieu, here’s the Grand Prize winner in all her glory. Enjoy the fruit of my first labor!

Not Your Mother’s Tuna Casserole
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, with a splash of vegetable oil (so the butter won’t burn)
1 box WHITE cheddar macaroni and cheese (not the neon orange stuff)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 (6-oz.) can solid white albacore tuna, drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water to make boxed mac and cheese. Cook pasta and drain.

In the meantime, chop your onion, open and drain your tuna, lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish and get ready to launch into tuna casserole land.

In the same pot you cooked your pasta, melt your 1/2 tablespoon of butter, with a splash of olive oil. Now sauté your onion and as it turns clear, add the drained tuna. Then add the milk, butter and sauce packet from the box and cook till it thickens. Schlep everything together except the saltines and cheddar and stick in your prepared casserole dish. Top with saltines and then the cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, give or take, until the cheese is nice and bubbly on top.

COOKING NOTES: Make SURE you only use only solid white albacore packed in water. That cheapie stuff smells like cat food and will ruin the dish!

Per serving: 429 Calories; 14g Fat; 26g Protein; 48g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 44mg Cholesterol; 892mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat. Points: 10

Tuna makes a great pantry staple to use in case of emergency. Check out our full line of emergency menus here!


by Daniel Munns

Saving Dinner Fundraising Hits the Road with PTO’s

As many of you have noticed from posts on our Facebook page, Saving Dinner Fundraising has been touring the country with the PTO Today expos the last couple of months.  It’s been a busy time for us, visiting eight states in eight weeks to introduce the program to hundreds of the country’s PTO leaders.  These PTO leaders attend these events to find a fundraising program for their school.  We are there to introduce them to Saving Dinner Fundraising, a simpler, healthier way to way to reach their fundraising goals!

Our experience at these events has been overwhelmingly positive.  Many of the PTO members we have met are like a lot of you. They are tired of selling, or buying, those same old unhealthy products year after year to help raise needed funds for their school.  Our booth has been a popular stop at these expos, as we really stand out in a room full of companies offering chocolate, cookies, and pizza as fundraisers.

You might remember the first time you saw a menu plan from Saving Dinner, and how you felt when you saw the weekly dinner plans and categorized shopping lists.  It has been quite rewarding introducing the Saving Dinner Fundraising products to the groups of PTO leaders at these events and hearing this common response: “Oh, I need that!”

We are of the opinion that the current way to fundraise (with unhealthy food, chachkis and overpriced products) is unacceptable. Our vision is partnering with schools to help them meet their financial goals with a generous 50% split and at the same time, help them get their families back to the dinner table.

We look forward to helping many of these great schools raise funds this Fall and spreading the mission of Saving Dinner.

We would love to introduce this program to your PTO or PTA.  Pop us an email to info@savingdinnerfundraising.com and we will send you a custom presentation on how the Saving Dinner Fundraising program works and how your school can earn a whopping 50% profit from everything you sell, from dollar one without having your kids go door to door selling because the whole fundraiser is done completely online. It’s a revolutionary way to do fundraising, it’s easy and it’s good for all.

Can’t wait to be a part of your school’s fundraising effort this year. Email us today, info@savingdinnerfundraising.com

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Not Your Mother’s Tuna Casserole
Herb Tips and Nacho Stuffed Shells Recipe

Herb Tips and Nacho Stuffed Shells Recipe

Tips, Tricks & a Recipe
Herb Tips and Nacho Stuffed Shells Recipe

by Leanne Ely, CNC

Here’s today’s TRICK:

When you’re using fresh herbs, use kitchen scissors to snip them and skip the knife and cutting board which crushes them. Kitchen scissors should be standard issue in any kitchen. I couldn’t live without mine!

And here’s a TIP:

When storing tender, leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, dill and the like, snip the ends off and store in the fridge in a vase of water. Don’t use a water glass; it will tip over from the top heavy weight of the herbs (ask me how I know!). Your herbs will appreciate the delicate treatment and reward you with freshness when it’s time to cook!

And your RECIPE:

Nacho Stuffed Shells
Serves 6

9 ounces jumbo shells (32 to 36 shells), uncooked
1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1 ounce low sodium taco seasoning (about 3/4 of a 1.25-oz. package)
3/4 cup water
12 ounces canned refried beans with chilies
3/4 cup shredded low fat Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Picante sauce
6 ounces tomato sauce
Olive oil
1.5 ounces sliced ripe olives, drained
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
Optional garnishes: Shredded low fat Cheddar cheese, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
While pasta is cooking, saute beef in a large skillet until browned; drain well. Add taco seasoning mix and water; simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Add beans and cheese. Cook until smooth and well blended. When pasta is done, drain well. Fill shells with beef mixture (1 to 2 tablespoons per shell).
Combine Picante sauce and tomato sauce in a saucepan. Cook until heated, stirring occasionally. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch baking pan that has been coated lightly with olive oil.
Place filled shells side by side on top of sauce; pour remaining sauce evenly over shells. Sprinkle with olives. Cover with aluminum foil; bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Garnish as desired.

Per Serving: 333 Calories; 5g Fat; 22g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 23mg Cholesterol; 1056mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates. Points: 8

Serving Suggestion: A nice green salad is all this rich dish needs. Enjoy!

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Herb Tips and Nacho Stuffed Shells Recipe
Zucchini – The Ultimate Summer Squash

Zucchini – The Ultimate Summer Squash

Tips, Tricks & a Recipe
Zucchini – The Ultimate Summer Squash

by Leanne Ely, CNC

Today’s focus is on: Zucchini!

I am lucky enough to have some zucchini planted in my garden and it’s going crazy. I’ve had about 4 zucchini so far and YUM, delish! Here are some things you need to know about zucchini:

1) massively low in calories—one large zucchini is only 16 calories!

2) plenty of phyto nutrients including beta-carotene, B vitamins, a little vitamin C and plenty o’ potassium!

Here’s a TIP:

Small to medium sized zucchinis are most tasty. Look for a smooth, unblemished skin and nice dark green color. Tasty zucchs skin should feel soft, but the zucchini itself should be hard and not squishy (that means its past its prime, yuck!)

And a TRICK:

To change things up, I grate my zucchini, sautéing it in garlic and olive oil, topping it with a little freshly grated Romano cheese and fresh ground pepper. Nice side dish and almost rice-like or pasta-like in texture.

And your RECIPE (from Saving Dinner the Vegetarian Way):

Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Serves 6

2 1/4 cups orzo
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
15 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Prepare orzo according to package directions; Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again very thoroughly. Place in a large bowl. Stir in the zucchini, olives, green onions, celery, tomato, and green bell pepper. In a small bowl, beat together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, dill, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss to coat well. Sprinkle on the feta cheese and toss again. Add the mayonnaise and toss gently. Chill at least for 2 hours and bring to room temperature before serving.

Per Serving: 546 Calories; 30g Fat; 14g Protein; 57g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 28mg Cholesterol; 553mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 5 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates. Points: 15

SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve with a simple caprese salad: sliced ripe tomatoes, layered with fresh basil leaves, sliced mozzarella and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Fresh ground pepper over the top finishes it beautifully.

Want more recipes for zucchini and other fresh veggies? Check out our Vegetarian Ebooks.

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Zucchini – The Ultimate Summer Squash
The Ultimate Pantry Stock-Up

The Ultimate Pantry Stock-Up

Food For Thought
The Ultimate Pantry Stock-Up

by Leanne Ely, CNC

I am a big believer in planning your menus and knowing what’s for dinner (good thing because I am the Dinner Diva!), but sometimes, even best intentions get thrown to the wayside. Stuff comes up, things happen, and you need an alternate plan—and I’m not talking drive thru! What to do?

Go to the pantry! If you use my list, you’ll walk away with ingredients for a quick, satisfying dinner and if you’re able to scrounge up a reasonable facsimile of something resembling a vegetable, it will even be a balanced meal. But before we go there, let’s build that pantry, shall we?

Here’s a list of stuff I find complete indispensable:


Canned Items and Jarred Items:
All manner of tomato products, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, spaghetti sauces, pizza sauce, tomato paste, salsas. I keep a variety of sizes available, too.
Canned beans: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, whatever bean you can find that you’ll eat. It’s less expensive to use dried beans, but these are still cheap and will work in a pinch. I’m also fond of already canned baked beans, bean dips. You can doctor them with a little bacon and some brown sugar and they taste like homemade.
Canned fish: tuna, salmon, crab, clams.
Canned fruit and vegetables: stock the ones you like and will use. I have pineapple, applesauce, mandarin oranges, pears, peaches, whole cranberries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, corn, olives, roasted red peppers, jars of tapenade, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, pesto (tomato and basil), canned chilies, tomatillos, anchovies, capers.
Canned soups and broths, etc.: stock the ones you use. I use a lot of chicken broth (low-sodium has more flavor), beef broth, vegetable broth and bottled clam juice.
Enchilada sauces (green and red), jars of gravy (great for extending what you made)
Canned milk: sweetened condensed, evaporated—all work great in baking.

Ketchup, mustards (yellow, Dijon, whole grain), pickles (dill and sweet), relish, mayonnaise, A-1, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, stir fry sauces, soy sauce (low-sodium, if you can find), teriyaki sauce, horseradish, cocktail sauce,  Once opened, store in fridge (except soy sauce).

Oils and Vinegars:
Vegetable oils of choice (I like a cold pressed grapeseed oil & coconut oil for high temperature cooking), olive oil, sesame oil for stir fry. All oil will go rancid staying out. After it is opened it has to go in the fridge, except olive oil.
White and red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegars.

Nut Butters and Jelly:
Peanut butter (crunchy or creamy), almond and cashew butters, jelly, jam and fruit spread or conserve, honey. My peanut butter needs to be refrigerated after opening–that’s the kind you want to buy.

Herbs and Spices:
To keep the price down on these spices, go to a dollar store or Wal-Mart to stock up as much as possible. You can also go to a health food store and buy everything you need from the bulk jars. This is the best place get quality spices and be frugal at the same time, believe it or not. I’ve bought the freshest spices at the health food store for thirty-five cents each.
Basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, red pepper flakes, cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, ginger, dried mustard cinnamon, peppercorns for the peppermill, nutmeg and curry powder are in my spice cabinet because I USE all of them. I also use sea salt and kosher salt and have both of those in my spice cabinet. Only buy what you use.

Baking Center:
Sugar (white, brown, powdered), flour (white, whole wheat, other), cornmeal, pancake mix, baking powder (should be kept in fridge after opening), baking soda, salt, cornstarch, baking chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, chocolate chips, nuts, baking mixes (cake, brownie, etc.)

Pasta and Rice and Grains:
Lasagna noodles, spaghetti noodles, ziti, rotini, fusilli, fettucine, linguine… only what you use. Boxed macaroni and cheese (try the natural white cheddar kinds).
Rice—I much prefer brown, but get what you’ll use. I’ve also got basmati, wild rice and some blends and mixes.
Oats, split peas, dried beans (white beans, navy beans, black beans, pinto beans), lentils, barley, couscous, quinoa.

Breads and Cereals:
Whatever you use. Bread should go in the freezer if it doesn’t get used up right away. Tortillas should be stored in the fridge—I prefer whole wheat (without transfats) tortillas for burritos and corn tortillas for tacos and fajitas.

Potatoes and Onions:
Russets, Red Rose potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash (or other whole squash in season, except summer squashes which need refrigeration) brown onions, red onions. Keep potatoes away from the light or they turn green. Also, don’t store potatoes next to apples. Apples give off a gas that causes potatoes to sprout.

Miscellaneous Pantry Items:
Coffee, assorted teas, hot cocoa, etc.

Here is a great pantry meal that will take you as long to make as it takes the pasta to cook~!

Linguini with Clam Sauce
Serve 4-6

1 pound linguini, uncooked
3 (6 ounce) cans minced clams, undrained
1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup clam juice
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain. While pasta is cooking, drain the juice from the canned clams into 2 cup measure then add enough chicken broth to make 2 cups liquid. In skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and sauté the pressed garlic. Stir in flour. Cook on low for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in clam/chicken broth liquid, clam juice, thyme and Tabasco sauce.  Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in clams, parsley and lemon juice and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot linguini.

Per Serving: 502 Calories; 11g Fat; 35g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 424mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 4 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. Points: 13

What are some of your pantry “must haves”?

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The Ultimate Pantry Stock-Up