Mini Mexican Zucchini Boats (Grain-Free, GAPS/Paleo/Dairy-Free Option)


I made a real dinner, you guys.

I actually semi-meal-planned it and put thought into it and everything (say what??). Mom/wife of the year!

It’s tough for me to get my head on straight and focus on my every day responsibilities at the moment. The new house is just crazy and it’s consuming my thoughts. I sat down to write my market/grocery list and I reeeeally had to focus, but I got it done. And I actually bought the things on my list at the market without buying any extra stuff (except a strawberry popsicle for my little helper, couldn’t resist). Although.. we did go to Trader Joe’s afterwards and we have about 0.0% self control in that place.. so mission only semi-accomplished. Oops.

We will have to do a whole run down of our Trader Joe’s favorites soon.. I could talk about it all day. Love/hate relationship.


Okay, so these are mini taco-stuffed zucchini boats. Cute, right? I made them smaller so they’d work nicely for kid portions. I actually thought about making them even smaller, but I thought the filling might fall out. After cooking them, I can say that they’d be perfect bite-sized appetizers if you cut them into 1-inch portions. I’d love to serve teeny tiny ones with some margs- GIANT margs.

If you are paleo or dairy-free, I still think these would be tasty without the cheese. We had some extra filling and we fried it up like a little taco burger, and it tasted great. Cheese not necessary.


These little boats are a nice way to switch things up if you like tacos, but you’re getting tired of your typical tortilla or lettuce wrap. The zucchini is basically just another vehicle for getting that taco goodness in your mouth. It’s really all about the filling, isn’t it? It takes a little extra time, but it’s not as messy as a taco if you’re feeding them to your child. This is important at my house, since my daughter has crazy-dinner-mess-face every time she eats. Girl is serious about her food.

Hopefully, I can keep up this meal-planning streak for another few days. I think you probably know how that’s going to end..

Mini Mexican Zucchini Boats
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


*To make things even quicker, you can substitute about 3-4T taco seasoning for the spices.
Recipe type: Main Course
Serves: 4-6

  • 4 medium zucchinis, ends trimmed
  • 1 pound ground beef (I prefer grass-fed)
  • ½ onion, minced
  • ½ green bell pepper, minced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced/pressed/grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional, not Paleo-approved)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • cracked pepper to taste (probably around 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (optional, I used a mixture of monterey jack and sharp cheddar)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease the bottom of a large baking dish.
  2. To prepare the zucchinis, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh to make a channel. Set aside.
  3. To prepare the filling, mix the ground beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste (if using) and spices in a medium bowl.
  4. To assemble, fill the zucchinis with the ground beef mixture. Then cut each zucchini in half (or smaller sections if you life). Place the mini zucchini boats in the greased dish.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Pull out of the oven, top with the shredded cheese and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the zucchini is soft and the cheese is melted. If you’re not using cheese, bake about 30 minutes until the zucchini is soft and the filling is set.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy.



Monday Things.

movingcollageIt’s good to be back. Now where to begin?

We are now settled into our new house in Dayton, OH. I use the word “settled” lightly, because a) I still feel like I’m on a strange vacation, b) boxes everywhere, ugh, c) we started painting and won’t be done anytime soon, and d) I just don’t really feel settled yet.

What’s been happening the past few weeks while I’ve been farming out my posts to other bloggers? Quick recap.

I was/am super sad about leaving Georgia. You guys, I did not know I was going to like Georgia. Really didn’t. I waltzed down there in 2010 with my new baby and I was all, “Eh, it’s too hot down here, three years better pass fast cuz I’m out.” And then I practically held on for dear life and had to be pulled out of GA crying like a baby. Those charming Southerners will do it to you every time. I am still missing my people something fierce, but my random crying outbursts have reduced by about half, so that’s progress.

Also, I have to stop myself from saying Ya’ll. It’s etched into my brain forever.

I sort of totally jumped off the GAPS bandwagon. It was unintentional and I really tried to plan for the move, but I broke down on hour 9 of a 12-hour drive alone with the kids. I had no food left, and I ate some (ughh I hate to even type this) Burger King at a rest stop with the kids. Ughh. Then I thought I would get back on the bandwagon the next day, but we didn’t make it out for groceries because my car was stuck behind the moving truck. I will save you all the details, but I will say that my stint back on the Standard American Diet included Dominos Pizza, Mini Oreos, Sesame Honey Cashews from TJ’s (these are a serious weakness, try them and you’ll see), a UDF brownie sundae and some other total junk. Needless to say, I have seen the light and I am moving back toward it (aka all that junk made me feel terrible). I’m trying to find a happy medium.. trying to figure out what my body can truly tolerate.. I’m such a mess, you guys- the will-Natalie-ever-figure-out-how-to-eat saga continues!


I guess that’s the major news. Enough of that. Here’s some fun stuff I found while I was cleaning out my reader last night:

I really want to go to Ojai, like anytime would be great. And I want to stay here.

I’m into chilly treats- pink grapefruit sorbet in grapefruit cups, blueberry frozen yogurt, green smoothie detox pops, chocolate-dipped coconut pops, raspberry chiffon pie. I wants it!

And I’m into kale salads.

I want to do something with all those Instas- anyone used Printic or Stickygram? Or any other recommendations?

Two recipes that are baffling/intriguing- orange coconut omelettes and kale granola (wha?? but also, get in my belly)

salty nuts ice cream. because, yeah.

awesome paleo lunches this year, Michelle!

a vest for Lucy, and one for Elliott, too.

I’m pumped to have a great library again, and Janssen has got my thinking twice about audiobooks. I think I’ll be requesting a lot of these!

Aaaand, thumbprint cookies are killin’ it. These and definitely these.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (Guest Post)

I’m back! I’m connected! Hallelujah! Things are inching closer and closer to normal life. We are still in the thick of unpacking, starting to paint and getting acclimated to our new home. Julia from The Crankin’ Kitchen is here to fill in the gaps while I get my act together. Julia’s blog is awesome- you must check out her walnut pork butter, which is happening in my house ASAP. I’ll be back in a day or two to tell you all about our move and how I kind of sabotaged the whole GAPS thing (more on that later). Take it away, Julia!


I’m pretty much on a diet of chopped vegetable dishes. Every meal I’ve eaten in the past two weeks has either consisted solely of a) potato salad, b) green bean salad with basil, sautéed radishes, and hunks of mozzarella, c) citrusy coleslaw, or a hearty helping of one of those next to some protein that I was mostly eating just to stave off devouring a giant bowlful of one of those salads. Now that tomatoes are starting to come in? Oh boy. Watch out. Is it possible to eat all of your daily calories from tomatoes? Can I try? No? Okay, I’ll throw in some grilled corn on the cob slathered with homemade lime mayonnaise and queso añejo. And some peaches and cherries. That’s fine. God I love summer.

Gazpacho is a little difficult for me. On the one hand, it’s probably one of the best soups you can eat. On the other hand, it seems a little shameful to purée fresh, ripe, local (expensive) heirloom tomatoes. Maybe that’s because I don’t have any of my own in a garden in my back yard. I kind of feel that they’re like precious gems and to adulterate them with anything more than some coarse sea salt and a basil leaf is to somehow cheapen them. But when it’s terrible and hot and gross out, gazpacho is something to live for.

ingredients in the bowl

Since there’s not much to gazpacho, you must use good tomatoes. Don’t put off this recipe until the winter or something. Go out and splurge on some beautiful tomatoes. And if you have them in your garden, you are lucky and please send some to me. And as with most traditional and iconic recipes, there are a hundred versions, all hotly contested as being the one perfect one I’m sure. I don’t have too many strong opinions on what vegetables should or not should be included in gazpacho and what the levels of vinegar and oil should be. I do strongly feel, though, that using tomato juice is a no-no. I mean, you’re trying to celebrate gorgeous summer tomatoes. Why would you mix them with bottled tomato juice? Gah. But if you want to leave out the cucumber and red pepper, or add in some parsley, go for it. Topping gazpacho with a hard boiled egg is also extremely acceptable.


That’s it. That’s my gazpacho. It’s wonderful. You can certainly chill it if you need some extra cooling off, but I think room temperature allows the flavors to be their best. Unless room temperature means boiling, which it would be here if my air conditioner ever stopped working. Some garnishes you could use if you haven’t already started to dig in, are finely chopped cucumbers and red peppers, parsley, toasted almonds, and crumbled/chopped hard boiled egg.

Seriously gardeners, send me your tomatoes. I hear that you have wayyy too many to eat. Pretty sure.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (Guest Post)
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Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4

  • 2.5 lbs heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded (cut in half width-wise then in quarters length-wise and seeds cut off) and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  1. Mix together the vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. In a blender, purée garlic, salt, olive oil, and vinegar. Scoop about half of the vegetable mixture into the blender. Blend until smooth, in batches if necessary.
  3. Pour blended veggies back into the bowl of chopped vegetables and mix.


Papaya Cream Popsicles (Papaya Paletas)


Popsicles, again?
Yes, always.

Orange popsicles, that is, since I apparently that’s my specialty. (See these creamsicles and mango yogurt pops for the proof.)

While cleaning out the fridge last week, I came upon half a papaya that needed some love (aka I didn’t have the heart to throw it out.) Usually I buy papaya strictly for juices (it’s anti-inflammatory and ya’ll know I need some of that!) but it looked past it’s juicing prime. So popsicles seemed the obvious choice in the heat of summer and because for some reason I couldn’t just cut it up and eat it like a normal person.

I could have made them straight papaya, but I love to add a bit of creaminess to my pops. I was out of any useful coconut products, so I used the cream from the top of the raw milk jar. It was a wise choice, believe you me. A little bit of lime, vanilla and honey and BAM- papaya pops comin’ at ya.


Next time you have half a papaya sitting alone in your fridge, this recipe can be your go-to. I assume that probably won’t happen to most of you, but a girl can dream.. someone out there thinks my blog is useful and actually makes my recipes, right? haha 😉

Really, though- I love you guys. Thanks for reading my crazy popsicle posts and sticking around Oven Love for all these years. You’re the bees.

1.0 from 1 reviews

Papaya Cream Popsicles (Papaya Paletas)
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Total time


This recipe will make 4-6 large popsicles and 8-12 small popsicles, depending on the size of your mold.
Recipe type: Snack, Dessert
Serves: 4-12

  • ½ large ripe red papaya, peeled and seeded
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream, coconut cream, or full-fat coconut milk (or omit all together, if you like)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons raw honey (optional)

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree. Pour into popsicle molds and add popsicle sticks.
  2. Freeze for 3-5 hours or until firm. Run warm water over the mold if the popsicles don’t come right out. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Salad with Homemade Mayo (Guest Post)


Today, we’ll be making the marathon 10 hour drive from GA to OH (make that 14 with the kids?). I’m glad to be on our way to getting settled in our new home, but it will be a long and bittersweet day, for sure. While I’m listening to my “Leaving GA” playlist and sobbing on the road, you get the treat of meeting Allison from The Sprouting Seed!

Allison is a nutritionist with a B.S. in Nutritional Science and a full-time mom. She got her start as a nutritionist and breastfeeding counselor at WIC. This was before she moved half way across the world to live in Central Europe, where she learned about real food, vibrant health, and traditional methods of preparation. Allison has found a way to make friends with little old ladies around the world and loves to share their time-tested secrets of life.

So glad to have her here on the blog today. And with a dynamite recipe for broccoli salad, no less! I am normally not a mayo fan.. but I think I will have to try her homemade mayo recipe– it looks amazing.


Broccoli is my favorite veggie. But I’ll be honest, I usually like it one way and one way only: lightly steamed, then sautéed with garlic. It’s simple, delicious, and I rarely feel the need to broaden my broccoli repertoire.

Lately, however, things have changed. I’ve been jazzing up all my vegetable dishes and not even broccoli could escape my creative streak. I started by frying zucchini fritters and grating cauliflower into “rice”. Then, I broke away from the well-beaten path of my broccoli recipe and ventured into new terrain. What did I make? Well, Broccoli Salad, of course!

This salad is hearty and delicious. It features raw broccoli, a homemade mayonnaise dressing and, you guessed it, bacon! I originally made it as a side dish, but lately I’ve been loving a big bowl of Broccoli Salad for dinner. It’s easy to whip up and sure to please. As an added bonus–using homemade mayonnaise instead of the store-bought version turns this dish into a powerhouse of nutrients. Bon Appetite!

Broccoli Salad with Homemade Mayo (Guest Post)

Recipe type: SIde Dish, Salad
Serves: 4-6

  • 2 heads of broccoli, stalks removed, cut into small florets
  • 6-8 slices of bacon
  • ¼ purple onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup crispy pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • ¾ cup homemade mayonnaise (recipe found here:
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raw, local honey

  1. In a skillet, fry bacon over medium high heat until evenly crisp. Remove the bacon, drain excess grease and crumble the bacon into small pieces.
  2. In medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar and honey and whisk until combined. Mix in broccoli florets, cranberries, and onion. Toss ingredients until the broccoli is thoroughly coated with the mayonnaise dressing.Just before serving, add the bacon and crispy pecans.

Strawberry and Peach Cinnamon Bread (Guest Post)

Strawberry Peach Bread

Happy Tuesday! The moving truck is in our driveway today and things are gettin’ real. While I’m busy carrying heavy objects (more likely children than boxes), please enjoy this guest post from Janssen of Everyday Reading. Janssen is a fellow contributor at MPMK and part of a very talented family of bloggers (you can find her sisters here and here). She writes about books, family, recipes, DIY.. she’s a regular renaissance woman. Thanks for visiting, Janssen!

One of my favorite things is a recipe that takes a food on its last leg and turns it into something amazing and delicious.

You know how banana bread rescues bananas from the trash can? This bread does the same for strawberries and peaches. The softer and riper they are, the better.

It’s great for a breakfast or snack, but my favorite is with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. But then, ANYTHING with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream is likely to be my favorite.
Strawberry and Peach Cinnamon Bread
Prep time

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Makes 1 loaf or 3 mini-loaves or 1 dozen muffins
Recipe type: Bread, Baked Goods
Serves: 8-12

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 cup chopped and mashed strawberries and peaches (whatever ratio you have is fine – I usually pulse mine in the blender a couple of times to chop them).

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.
  2. Pour into greased pan (fill each pan or muffin tin about ⅔ full).
  3. Bake for 1 hour if doing a full loaf, 40 minutes for mini-loaves, and 30 minutes for muffins (or until a toothpick comes out cleanly).

Thursday Things.


You guys. That bowl of yogurt is my new obsesh. Yogurt, peaches, honey, toasted pine nuts. So glad I found that random half bag of pine nuts when I was cleaning out the pantry. Gold, I tell ya.

As you know, we’re in the thick of the moving process. While I’m eating random bowls of delicious yogurt and taping boxes shut/ripping them open again, you’ll get to enjoy more guest posts by my food blogging pals. I’m looking forward to getting settled and working on new content.

Until then, some Thursday things.

Corn and Cotija Guacamole. Already amazing, and then he went ahead and added bacon.

Jenni went ahead and did it again with Lemony Carrot Apple Bombs.

Beet lemonade sounds crazy and awful and awesome all the same time.

I have seriously got my eye on Tina’s crispy shallot, bacon and brie burger. Yes and yes.

This ice cream kombucha float seems like the most logical way to drink our booch.

I’ll have a melon gin and tonic in each hand, please.

This is how I hard-boil my eggs, too. Works every time!

Oh, yeah- I’m at MPMK today sharing 16 drool-worthy stone fruit recipes. Go get you some.

Also, I’m a little teeny bit obsessed with Twitter again, so come find me @natalieherr and say hello!

Coconut Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies (Guest Post)

raw coconut chocolate thumbprint cookies2
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jody from Living Nutrition. Jody comes up with the most delicious looking recipes- her smoked cherry chicken wings and banana split ice cream cake are just begging to be made at my house! And don’t get me started on these cookies- no-bake thumbprints are genius. Thanks, Jody, for helping out while I’m busy packing boxes! Here’s a little more about Jody:

Jody Engstrom has been a personal chef for special needs clients such as cancer and diabetes patients and has also teaches food preparation classes. She has prepared raw/vegan, grain-free and paleo diet foods for health food stores, crossfitters, and bodybuilding clients as well. Currently she is a  mother of 1 darling and energetic little girl, prepares healthy delightful meals for her family and cooks, photographs, and posts to her health diet related blog, Living Nutrition @ Jody writes:

These little morsels are a new family favorite. They have become commonly requested for tea and dinner parties as well!

The first time I made them was during naptime about 6 months ago, at an especially defiant stage of the munchkin’s life. I needed a “meditative moment”, so I decided to make these while she was sleeping, in hopes that we could have a relaxing tea party with Lily doll, Pooh Bear and Mr. Moose when she woke up.

raw coconut chocolate thumbprint cookies1
The cookies were surprisingly easy to make and I had plenty of time to photograph my creation, when my husband came upstairs from working.I had him try one and he didn’t stop. Between every click of the camera, there was another cookie stolen. I managed to get the photo I wanted, but at the tea party in the aftermath, Lily, Pooh Bear, and Mr. Moose looked somber as Ariana and I chomped down on the last 2 cookies daddy was forced to save for us.

I learned from this “cookie massacre” that if I want any saved for us, I have to wrap a few in aluminum foil and hide them behind the frozen peas in the freezer. It’s sneaky…but it works.

Coconut Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
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Total time


Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free. Originally posted on
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8-12

  • for the cookies:
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 TBS coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup
  • 2 TBS softened coconut oil or butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • for the chocolate ganache:
  • 2 TBS coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBS raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
  • 1 TBS coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup
  • a few grains of salt

  1. Put all of the cookie ingredients in the food processor and process until mixture sticks together. Scoop into 1 TBS sized balls. Place in the fridge for 5 minutes while you prepare the chocolate filling.Mix everything for the filling, in a shaker bottle or small blender until emulsified. Set aside.
  2. Remove the coconut balls from the fridge and flatten them into more of a cookie shape. Create an indentation in the middle of each cookie for your chocolate ganache.
  3. Carefully spoon the chocolate ganache into each indentation. Return to the fridge for 5 min for the ganache to set.
  4. Enjoy! No Baking Required!

Friday Things.

Hi, muffins! Happy Friday.


I wish I was eating some fat almond pancake right about now.. so good.

We have got a bang up weekend planned around here- we’re hitting the water park today as a family, then spending Saturday in Savannah/Tybee Island (if it’s good beach weather) and then Sunday. Oh, Sunday. Sunday is my last week leading worship at New City Church, followed by a going-away picnic hosted by our church family. I’m a guaranteed basket case.

And of course we’ll throw in some packing here and there. Maybe.


Friday Things.

Coconut Stuffed Ice Cream. This looks like a dream.

Love this little shop- Candy Kirby Designs

Walnut pork butter? Yeah, it’s a real thing.

What new moms really want. This is spot on.

Cobb Salad in Bacon Bowls. What else can we put in bacon bowls?? (anything/everything)

I’ve been building my playlist for our drive from GA to OH and it’s equal parts awesome and sad. Tell me your favorite songs for going away/driving/leaving your BFFs so I can get those jams ASAP.

Grain-Free Oatmeal Cookies with Marshmallow Filling. Um, what? Amazing. People are so creative.

I don’t even really play ping pong, but I want this shirt.

Have you guys watched that show Camp? I am kind of loving it, and also loving Camp Brand Goods. Take me back to summer camp, I needs it!

Also, Paleo Chicken Pot Pie. Bam.
Enjoy the weekend, dolls!

Mango Swirl Popsicles


Can we all agree that popsicles are having a moment?

Maybe it’s the summer heat + all the gorgeous Pinterest inspiration, but I’ve had popsicles on the brain. When I saw a bag of ripe mangos in the Kroger dollar produce bin, my brain immediately said, “Popsicles. Probably with a yogurt swirl. Let’s do this.”

And here we are with mango swirl popsicles. Thank you, internal grocery store monologue.

Not much work to be done for these bad boys. Puree your mango with some lime juice, swirl with vanilla yogurt and freeze. Then try to forget they’re in the freezer for a few hours so you’re surprised when you remember you have popsicles waiting for you. I love knowing there’s a little treatsie in the freezer with my name on it, don’t you?

If you are a popsicle lover, check out my orange creamsicles and raspberry ice pops as well. Make them all, throw a popsicle party and then invite me to it, pleaseandthankyou.


Also, you should definitely eat any extra mango yogurt with a spoon. You’re welcome.

Mango Swirl Popsicles
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Cook time

Total time


This recipe will make 4-6 large popsicles or 8-12 small popsicles, depending on the size of your molds. There will be about 4 cups total of your popsicle mixture. Any extra is delicious eaten straight from a spoon!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8

  • 2 ripe mangos (makes about 2 cups puree)
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (make homemade raw milk yogurt for GAPS or coconut yogurt for Dairy-Free/Vegan/Paleo)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can omit this if you’re using yogurt that’s already flavored with vanilla)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (optional)

  1. Cut around the pit of your mango and scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a blender. Try to get as much of the mango flesh as possible off of the pit (this is easier when the mangos are really ripe, so look for soft ones). Add the lime juice and puree until smooth.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix your yogurt and vanilla extract (and honey, if using).
  3. Spoon the mango puree on top of the yogurt and gently fold the puree with just a few strokes. Try not to overmix- it will still taste great, but you’ll lose the “swirl” look if you mix it too much.
  4. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for about 30 minutes, add the sticks, and then freeze for 1-2 more hours or until firm.
  5. When ready to serve, run the molds under warm water until the popsicles come loose and serve immediately.