Zucchini Melt(down)s

This weekend was an interesting one. Friday I had like world’s best day. The best days in my life always happen randomly and without any forethought. I slept really well going into my weekend, I had a good workout in the morning despite feeling sore and negative about it before getting to the gym, I had a delicious breakfast, I had dunkin iced coffee, I talked to my best friend Kate on the phone, I talked to my mom, I ran errands, I got stuff done off my to do list AND I got to do stuff that I wanted to do, and I had dinner with another best friend, Nick (where we both tried oysters for the first time… a weird/hilarious experience). Oh and Will of course came home from working in Boston so I even got to end the night with my love. OH and the Red Sox won their first game in their weekend series at home against the Yankees. I finally felt normal and like myself for the first time since coming back from Russia.

But then Saturday and Sunday… I wasn’t feeling it. I felt overemotional, stressed out, way over tired, cranky, and it felt like my body had just given up on me. The combination of- international travel, working out a lot during the week, not getting a lot of sleep, and expecting my body to bounce back quickly and seamlessly from everything I have been putting it through- caught up to me big time.

Everything I did felt wrong or stupid. I couldn’t get out of my own head and a lot of problems from the past clouded my mind surrounding food, weight, counting calories, not counting calories, and eating habits. While these things usually sit in the background of my brain and have been known to completely disappear on occasion, there are times where they creep in and there’s not much I can do to make them go away. They balloon out of control when I’m feeling stressed about life as a whole even if it wasn’t those things that I was worried about first place. And as I’ve explained before, when I feel out of control- my brain goes into hyper-alert on the things it knows it can control. The only thing I can do is accept that I’m having bad days and move forward without letting these scary/negative fears and worries dictate the actions in my life. Easier said than done.

Old voices of the past swirled around in my head telling me that I should eat less- that I’ve been having too easy of a time in life- that I’ve been indulging too much- that I’ve been enjoying life too much- that I don’t deserve to eat as much as I have been for the past handful of months. I know these voices are crazy. But they’re almost impossible to ignore. Just restrict. Do it. For old times sake. You’ll be fine. And this way you won’t gain weight. It’s really hard to enjoy your day and pay attention to the world around you when these messages are attacking your brain relentlessly. And then add on top of these thoughts- the ones of me beating myself up for having these thoughts in the first place and feeling like an idiot because I can’t make them go away. Being mad at myself because I can’t just be a normal person and feel good about life when everything on paper is totally fine.

Sigh.

I had a morning melt down on Saturday and again Sunday in the middle of Union Market. Nice. Thank God Will was by my side both times so that I didn’t feel like a complete crazy person. He helped push me through the bad moments and bring me back down to earth.

Now in retrospect and with a little perspective, I can see that a lot of good things happened this weekend outside of all of my anxiety. Despite it being a million plus degrees outside, Will and I ventured to Eastern Market on Saturday. He had never been to Eastern Market (!) and we both had never been to the District Taco location there (which we had for lunch- delicious!)

On our way home, we popped into the National Postal Museum (hold your laughter) and it was actually a really great museum! We had both heard good things about it but didn’t understand how a museum about mail and the U.S. postal service/system could be interesting in the slightest. Well, the Smithsonian Institution is doing something right with this place- let me tell you. It was much better than a lot of museums I’ve been to around here. It was well organized, informative, and fun to go through. They had a lot of interactive stuff to take part in and we ended up spending a couple hours there.

How could you not like the postal museum when THIS little guy is their mascot! Click through this photo to read more about Owney the dog and why he’s their mascot.

On Sunday, in honor of National Ice Cream Day, there was an ice cream tasting event at Union Market called “The DC Scoop.” Will and I walked over there from our apartment because 1) we wanted an adventure and had never been to Union Market before and 2) we love ice cream. It ended up being way over crowded and way too hot. The long lines and heat didn’t make tiny free samples of ice cream worth it (in my opinion). We didn’t stay very long and we certainly did not get our fill of ice cream. BUT I’m really happy we went to Union Market because I’ve wanted to check it out for a while and now I’m glad I know what it’s all about. It a wicked cool place and I’m sure its a lot more fun when there is not a bajillion people there lurking around for free ice cream.

I made a lot of interesting recipes this weekend that were successful (including THESE eggs baked in avocados and THIS homemade coconut milk whipped cream) but the real winner were these amazing zucchini melts.

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The purple crispy-ness you see is the purple basil I picked up at a local store near my apartment that I ended up adding to the zucchini. The purple basil was not only tasty, but also it added a level of color that made the whole melt look so much prettier.

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The original recipe calls for a grill, but I just pan seared the zucchini and toasted the bread/melted the cheese in my toaster oven. It came out just fine!

When I saw this recipe while reading Real Simple in the airport on my way back from my weekend in NYC– I was a little skeptical. I usually skim past recipes that require too many ingredients or ones that I normally don’t keep in my kitchen. But for some reason- this one just looked too good to pass up.

The sandwich is grilled zucchini on top of a thick grilled slice of bread (I used multigrain from Lyon Bakery) with melted fontina cheese and olive tapanade. The side to the sandwich is a tomato wedge salad with fresh basil, red wine vinegar, and toasted hazelnuts. Click here for the original recipe from Real Simple.

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I made the tomato hazelnut salad into more of a salad by adding spinach. The original recipe just has the tomato wedges. When I made the melts the second time I used the purple basil in the salad instead of on the melt.

I love zucchini. I love olives (as of late). And I love fresh tomatoes (especially after eating them in abundance while in Russia).

I took advantage of the Trader Joes gift cards bestowed onto me for my birthday and splurged on a bag of hazelnuts, a bottle of red wine vinegar, a jar of olive tapenade, and a big ol’ wedge of fontina cheese. Fact: I’ve never purchased any of these things before. They all sound a little too fancy for my palette and my kitchen, don’t they?

This seems like a lot to go through just to make a sandwich and salad… but it was worth it. As you all know- it’s been WAY too hot in DC (and the rest of the country). Almost too hot to want to eat. Almost. It’s a struggle to find things that sound appetizing when you’re sweating from every part of your body. So when I found something that I actually wanted to eat- I had to make it.

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For the tomato/hazelnut salad- you could totally just use balsamic vinegar.

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How have I never experienced this before?! It’s so good. Excuse me while I add it to everything… I contemplated not buying it and having the melt without it. That would have been a BIG mistake. This plus the fontina was magical.

I made this meal twice this weekend. Once just for me on Friday (without the tomato/hazelnut salad) and then on Saturday night for Will and I (with the salad). The salad of course isn’t necessary- but it was a yummy side dish for the open faced melts. I just had my melt with tomato wedges, snap peas, and hummus on Friday. Equally as good.

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The tomatoes on the vine at Trader Joes right now are PERFECT. I haven’t cut into firm, juicy tomatoes like these ones in like forever.

I really really really liked these melts. I hope you try them out and like them too. You could easily make your own variations on the actual recipe. Zucchini + your choice of cheese + your choice of bread + salt & pepper + basil = good stuff no matter what.

Also I should note, on the great day that was Friday, I went to Macy’s to use my birthday gift card on kitchen gadgets armed with the suggestions from you readers. I’m happy to report that I am now the proud owner of a cherry pitter, a set of peelers, and a hand mixer. I contemplated the ice cream machine, immersion blender, and rice cooker- but they all were on the more expensive side. I wanted to get a few things instead of just one big thing so that is what led me down the ultimate path of selection I went on.

P1020299Big surprise- I used the cherry pitter every single day this weekend. And I used the hand mixer to make that homemade coconut milk whipped cream I mentioned earlier Friday night (I promise I’ll share a dessert recipe sometime this week).

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I never ever want cherry season to end!

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I’m WAY too obsessed with my cherry pitter. It made whipping up a bowl of cherry overnight oats so much easier.

I felt pretty tired when I woke up this morning and I felt even more nervous about the day ahead. After a series of bad days, I reluctantly got out of bed to face the day unbeknownst as to what it would bring to me. I’m currently trying to convince myself that things could ACTUALLY be better and ACTUALLY be good. I just gotta shake the funk.

Waking up to see the walk off home run video from last night’s Sox vs. Yankees game at Fenway certainly made my day better. I’m hoping that if I rewatch this video enough times, the happiness of Napoli, the Sox, and the Fenway Faithful will rub off on me.

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Here’s to a new week and new adventures.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

13 thoughts on “Zucchini Melt(down)s

  1. You had never been to Eastern Market?!? Next time get some of the fresh ravioli from inside! I used to love the like crab and crawfish one or something, but they are all amazing. Hang in there girly, everyone has rough weekends, but now it’s a brand new, fresh week!

  2. first off – GO SOX. you knew that was coming. second – I honestly know that for me when I am stressed or feeling overly emotional, my ED voice comes back with a vengeance. Good of you for recognizing though what triggered it and fighting those thoughts off rationally. it is really all you can do sometimes.

  3. Legit had a busy weekend full of indulgent eats and definitely had the ED voice coming in strong this morning telling me to restrict in order to make up for this weekend! However, after talking to my nutritionist about this very situation she told me to try and have a day of just eating the things that really make your body feel good! For me it’s things like basic oatmeal, nuts, berries, big salads, and fish that make me feel best…so I am focusing on enjoying those eats today instead of giving in to those voices telling me not to eat anything!! Maybe try doing somthing similar to this if you find you are really struggling, but hopefully you woke up feeling better this morning and are ready to have an awesome week 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing the good advice. It’s so easy to see food as the enemy when it’s not at all. Your encouragement has been gratefully appreciated. Today isn’t the greatest but its definitely better so I’ll take it. I hope you have a good week over on the west coast!

  4. Wow, Will sounds amazing. That tidbit really resonated with me today, because I heard those voices in my head too after my workout today. Usually I can keep them in check but sometimes the worst days can send me into a panic attack. One of my goals is to work building a better support system to help me with my own crisis management. Hearing about the supportive people in your life is so encouraging, hopefully I’ll find the courage to share that part of my life someday too!

    • Your really really should invest in someone that you trust. I know that my life became a million times easier when I started admitting to my issues here on my blog and sharing them with other people. It was hard to explain things to people like Will and my family, but I can’t imagine them not knowing now. If you ever need a place to vent though, you can always email me!

  5. I get the same way when stressed. All the little things seem to add up which can be overwhelming. I’ve personally realized I need to find a better outlet for my stress….yoga? a walk? breathing? Still figuring it out.

    On a lighter note: that salad looks fantastic and I want to make it immediately. I splurged on a bag of hazelnuts recently without really having a plan for them and now I do. Thank you kindly!

  6. Pingback: Thursday Treasures | Wicked Healthy Washingtonian

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