Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fun with our Son

It sure feels good getting back to my blog, if you remember I had told you that I was taking a little time off from my blog as our son (Dave) was coming in to visit and we wanted to spend all of our time with him.

As soon as we picked him up from the airport we drove to Branson and went directly to Silver Dollar City (SDC), that's our local version of Disneyland.  Dave had asked me earlier if I would go on the rides (roller coasters) with him and since I wanted to spend time with him I told him I would.  Now I'm not a fan of roller coasters as the last one I was on was probably 40 years ago or so at the Long Beach Pike in California, so what did Dave do? he bought Trailblazer passes so we could go to the front of the line on all 8 roller coasters.

Yeah! I did all eight

Here's a quick rundown on those rides:

Outlaw Run features the world’s first and only double barrel roll on a wood coaster, with a 720-degree (double) barrel roll. In addition it is the only wood coaster to twist upside down three times, is the world’s steepest wood coaster with a first drop of 162 feet (more than 16 stories) at an 81 degree drop and is the second fastest wood coaster in the world reaching a top speed of 68 mph.

Powder Keg launches from 0 to 53 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds! it combines the shocking speed of the compressed air-launch with spiraling turns, negative gravitational or "G" forces, and "floater" hills at speeds up to 64 miles per hour! After the initial blast of speed, and 110-foot drop, riders soar through the trees over six acres on 3,500 feet of track for a truly wild ride experience.

Thunderation riders will experience heights up to 80 feet, sharp turns and drops, sudden stops and speeds up to 50 mph.

Lost River of the Ozarks riders will experience numerous twists, turns and drops. Sections of this ride are in the dark

American Plunge riders will experience a steep 50-foot drop splashing into the water reaching speeds of 35 mph.

Fire-in-The-Hole riders will experience a dark environment with sharp turns and sudden drops.

WildFire is a high-flying, multi-looping, cobra-rolling coaster that will leave you breathless! Traveling at speeds up to 66 miles per hour, WildFire features a vertical drop of 15 stories, followed by five inversions including a full loop, cobra roll, corkscrew and high-speed spiral.

The GIANT Barn Swing riders will experience a high-speed launch, heights of 75 feet, speeds of 45 mph, and back-to-back positive and negative G-forces.

Outlaw Run, I couldn't keep my glasses on!

Powder Keg take off, WHOA Nellie!

Believe it or not, I had a great time and would do them all again.  So while Dave and I were busy Jan went to the Midwest Living Culinary School that is inside Silver Dollar City (SDC) and attended a cooking class, we had done that before and it is always fun and educational.  Underneath SDC is Marvel Cave, SDC was created many years ago, food and a general store, to keep those in line to tour Marvel Cave busy and now it is an amazing theme and amusement park.  Later that day the three of us toured Marvel Cave, but did a special tour carrying and only using lanterns to see, that gave us the full experience of what the early explorers saw.  Here is a little info on Marvel Cave, it is a wet limestone cave, complete with formations that are still alive and growing! To begin, you will travel 300 feet below the surface (700 steps) and enter the Cathedral Room. The breathtakingly beautiful Cathedral Room is the largest cave entrance room in the United States.

The next day we saw a couple of shows, Clay Cooper's Country Music Express and the Cat's Pajamas, check out the Branson Here We Come post on April 16th for info on those.  Dave kept bugging us about the shows being for old people or cowboys, but every time I looked over at him he was smiling, laughing and applauding.  Who's he kidding, he had a great time!  We also stopped at Dick's Five and Dime in old downtown Branson.  It's an old fashioned five and dime, if there's something your looking for you most likely will be able to find it there.  We then headed over to Ripley's Believe it or Not, We've been to one before but Dave wanted to go, we did have a good time goofing off at the photo area and couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring one home with us.

Oh no, they shrunk my head!

The  following day we headed home but not until we made a stop at the outlet mall, it had been raining off and on ever since Dave came in but as soon as we park at the mall it came down in buckets full.  That didn't stop us though and it gave me a real thrill to see the sparkle in Jan and Dave's eyes as he spoiled his  mother rotten.  Guess what, no matter what you hear, they do grow up!.

Monday was a tough day for Jan as she needed to stay home and recuperate so Dave and I went to the Wild Animal Park in Springfield, Jan and I hadn't been there yet but I'm definitely going to have to get back there with her.  We had a blast, you can drive your own car through it or take a tour bus, we decided to take the bus and had a great time,  We bought some food to feed the animals as they would come right up to you and stick their heads through the open windows to get fed.

This Camel was looking for food

and he found it, Dave had a great time

He wouldn't eat out of our hand so we just threw him some food

I couldn't get subs for my Weight Watchers meetings so while was at them Jan and Dave went to Springfield for the movies, zoo and shopping.  We had scheduled golf on Thursday and even though it wasn't raining that day the golf course was closed due to the last nine days of rain and it was flooded, oh well hopefully we can play golf the next time he comes out.  We had a great time with him and look forward to his next visit.

So how did our weigh-ins go, after 2 weeks of going all the time we both gained just a little over a pound and we are very happy with that.  I earned a lot of activity points and was glad to have the ActiveLink with me to calculate them, I earned 29 points the day I rode all of the roller coasters and ate everyone of them.  I read a great article on Hella Wella and wanted to share it with you.

Not getting enough sleep leads to more junk food cravings

Previous research has shown links between sleep deprivation and increased appetites, but a recent UC Berkeley study now illuminates how poor sleep affects our food cravings — and the brain mechanisms behind it all. 

Using fMRI scans, researchers analyzed the brain activity of 23 healthy young adults — initially after a normal night's sleep and then after a night of no sleep. Participants were more likely to crave junk food like burgers, pizza and doughnuts following the sleepless night, and the brain scans indicated two important changes in brain activity: Activity in the sleep-deprived brain's frontal lobe — the part of the brain responsible for complex decision-making — was impaired, but researchers noticed there was increased activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards.
“What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified,” said Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience and senior author of the study.
In the study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, participants viewed a series of 80 food images illustrating everything from healthy options — such as strawberries, apples and carrots — to high-calorie junk food, such as burgers and pizza. They rated their cravings for each food and were provided with the food they craved the most after the brain scan. 
They were significantly less likely to choose whole grains and leafy vegetables after the sleepless night, instead craving the less healthy snacks and junk food. 

“These results shed light on how the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, leading to the selection of more unhealthy foods and, ultimately, higher rates of obesity,” said Stephanie Greer, a doctoral student in Walker’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory and lead author of the paper. 

This weeks food food find as a good one if your'e looking for more protein at breakfast and great taste.

Sorry, no recipe this week, but will have one next week.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pioneer Day Celebration

July 24th is a very special day in our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is Pioneer Day.  That is the date that the pioneers who traveled across America to find their new home, to worship their religion in peace, pushing and pulling their handcarts with all of their worldly belongings, first saw the valley of Salt Lake. It is celebrated all over the world and our Ward did just that this past week.  There were well over 100 of us that went to one of our members farms and had a barbecue, everyone brought something which made it difficult to decide what to eat, there was so much I couldn't even try a little of everything.  There was a pie eating contest, horseshoes, bean bag toss and games with animals to name a few.  So what are games with animals?  One was a team effort, you had to saddle a horse then both team members get on that horse ride it to the end of the arena and back and the fastest time wins. Another one was with the cows, ribbons were tied onto their tails and the kids in different age groups went into the arena and chase the cows to get the ribbon off of their tails.  Both of these events were hysterical and everyone had a great time.

Lots of food

and more food

Watching the games in the arena

Horses of Hope, the organization that Jan and  I volunteer at is having a night at the ballpark to raise a few bucks.  The ballpark here is the Triple A Cardinals, a pretty good team with a devoted following.  We will be down on the field with some of the horses and our riders.  The first ball will be thrown out by one of our riders from his wheelchair.  While I was going around town attempting to sell tickets to the merchants I went into a pet store and just had to share this picture with you.

Overeating can make you very sleepy!

Our son David is coming in to visit us tomorrow for a week, we are really excited to see him and have all kinds of things planned.  So on that note I will be taking a week off from my blog but will be back the following week with all kinds of good stuff.

I was up .4 at weigh-in this week, now if I can just stay there and not lose any weight this coming week.  Jan stayed the same and was really happy with that.  She has committed to tracking everyday this week and it will be interesting to see how that works out for her.

This weeks food find is something that we take for granted sometimes, lets not forget all of the great aspects of this one.

I think you'll love this weeks recipe, enjoy.

Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

Servings: 16 • Size: 1 slice • Calories: 88 • Fat: 2 g • Carb: 19 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 2
·         1-1/4 cups strawberries, diced
·         3 ripe medium bananas, mashed
·         2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
·         1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
·         3/4 tsp baking soda
·         1/4 tsp salt
·         2 tbsp butter, softened
·         1/2 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
·         2 large egg whites
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         baking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a loaf pan with baking spray. Place the strawberries on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, remove and set aside

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, apple sauce and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Add flour mixture and blend at low speed until combined, do not over mix. Fold in strawberries and pour batter into the prepared loaf pans; bake in the center rack for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the pan cool at least 20 minutes, bread should be room temperature before slicing.

Talk to you all in two weeks!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

What the Heck Happened!

From not doing much last week to this week really never having a minute to spare, what's with that?

Yesterday I finished  my six Weight Watcher meetings for the week, I thoroughly enjoyed the subject this week as we were making smarter salads.  One of the members told me that she would go to McDonalds and order a side salad and then a grilled chicken breast, just a chicken breast  not a sandwich, then cut it up and put it on the salad for a chicken salad.  The portion size was just right for her and the cost was only $3.00, a buck for the salad and 2 bucks for the chicken breast.  What a great idea, I never thought of that.

Friday we went to the zoo with friends and did the usual, feed the giraffes, watch the elephants get their bath and walk around for some activity.  The humidity was up and it was so hot that I found myself needing to drink some water, I went to the concessions to buy some water and because of the conditions they were giving out free ice water.  WOW what a reminder, we might think were doing ok but we really need to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water in these hot summer months.  When we left the zoo we all went to lunch as it was Mycah's birthday, we stopped at Panera Bread and had a good time, next time you go there ask them about their hidden menu.
Support your local zoo

Over the weekend we went to the mall in Springfield, guess who needed to buy some new clothes, ME not Jan.  We got there a little before the stores opened so we walked the mall and when we went past the See's candy store we saw that it was the annual lollypop promotion.  Needless to say we went back when they opened to get some and I'm glad we did, they were $5.00 off a box, had 2 new flavors to try root beer and chocolate caramel and they are only 2 Weight Watchers points per lollypop, what a deal!

After I got some new clothes we went to the movies and saw Red 2, I highly recommend it as it had action, comedy and a great cast. They are refurbishing the movie theater we went to and we were very impressed with the changes. the new seats are extra wide leather recliners, just hold the button down and it reclines and the foot rest comes up, all they need now is waiter service.

Monday was our volunteer day at Horses of Hope, we had a great time as usual, kids were their from Greene County as part of a service project to learn that one person can make a difference and that person could be them.  Horses of Hope provides such incredible services and it is a pleasure to be a part of their volunteer team.
Check out their website,

WOW, I'm glad the week is over and this can be a rest day, I only need to do some yard work, mow, edge, trim and finish putting the block around the flower bed, I think I need a nap just thinking about it.

I thought I had maintenance figured out, NOT, I lost 1.4 pounds this week, I'm going to have to increase  my points again and see what happens.  Jan stayed the same this week and was thrilled as it was tough week for her.  I found this great article about artificial sweeteners and I want to share it with you,

Debunking the myths about ‘reduced-fat,’ ‘zero-calorie’ & artificial sweeteners

If the words “fat-free,” “sugar-free” or “zero calories” convince you to purchase and consume certain foods and drinks, listen up. While healthy alternatives always are welcomed, we need to know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies. Sometimes all of the food labels and buzzwords can make healthy eating more complicated than it needs to be.  
Myth: Artificial sweeteners, such as those found in diet sodas, are bad for you and will make you fat.

Fact: Like almost anything, artificial sweeteners aren’t bad for you in moderation. They are beneficial when used in a diabetic or low-calorie diet. Also, contrary to popular belief, there’s been no conclusive research indicating that they cause cancer or brain tumors in humans. But artificial sweeteners, which are significantly sweeter than sugar, mean that those products in which they are used also have other additives, which could be undesirable to some health-conscious people.

Myth: Reduced-fat, low-fat or zero-calorie foods are healthy alternatives.

Fact: Removing the fat from food often means an increase in additives or unhealthy levels of sodium and carbohydrates to compensate for the change of flavor. Sometimes these additives make a low- or reduced-fat food just as bad for you if not more than the regular product. 

Myth: High-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Fact: High-fructose corn syrup was designed to come as close as possible to replicating sugar, which as far as calories go, it does. As a sugar substitute, it's no better or worse for you than a cube of the real stuff.

The big problem seems to be how much sweeteners are used in everyday diets,

The food find this week is a fun one, pudding in a pouch, enjoy.

Another slow cooker recipe.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Tacos

Servings: 4 • Size: 3 tacos • Calories: 313 • Fat: 8 g • Carb: 41 g • Fiber: 8 g • Protein: 22 g •

·         12 oz raw skinless chicken tenders or breast
·         15 oz can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
·         10 oz can tomatoes with mild green chiles (I used Rotel)
·         1 1/8 tsp chili powder
·         3/4 tsp plus 1/8th tsp ground cumin
·         1/4 tsp garlic powder
·         1/4 tsp oregano 
·         1 medium scallion, diced
·         1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)

For the Slaw:
·         1 1/3 cups shredded red cabbage
·         1 tsp red wine vinegar (or lime juice)
·         salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Taco:
·         12 crisp corn taco shells

Optional toppings: (not calculated)
·         pico de gallo
·         1 medium haas avocado, sliced


Season chicken with pinch of salt, garlic powder, oregano, 1/8 tsp of the chili powder and 1/8th tsp cumin.
Add the beans and tomatoes to the crock pot and season with the remaining chili powder and cumin. Place chicken in the crock pot and cover. Cook on HIGH 2 hours
Meanwhile, combine shredded cabbage with vinegar (add more to taste), season with salt to taste; set aside.

Remove chicken from the crock pot and shred with two forks. Drain beans and transfer to a platter, or back to the crock pot to keep warm. Top with shredded chicken, scallions and cilantro.

To serve, warm the taco shells according to package directions. Fill with equal amounts of bean and chicken mixture. Top with cabbage and your favorite toppings

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Not Much Going On!

Like the title of this post says, "Not Much Going On!" as a matter of fact I can't remember doing anything different or exciting this past week, it just went by way to fast and I have no idea what we did.

A quick update on Abby, she is doing pretty good right now as she has kept most of her food down, however, she looks even thinner to us than she did last week.  We are always looking for something new to feed her that is full of nutrients and vitamins and Jan found something new. When she told me about it I thought she was kidding me because one of my favorite television channels is the Food Network, anyway, it is a new dog food by Rachael Ray and the ingredients are amazing, it even smells good and Abby really likes it.  It smelled so good I was tempted to try it myself.

Wow, Rachael is into everything! Chicken Paw Pie

Weight maintenance was good this week as I lost .6 this week at weigh-in, it looks like I'm getting the hang of it.  Jan was up a tad and is alright with that as she hasn't felt a 100% this last week.

Most of you know that I like my sweets and I saw this list of healthy sweet snacks and wanted to share it with you.  You can get these snacks at any grocery store.

·     1 package Original Apple Nature Valley Fruit Crisps (50 calories)
·     1 packet O'Coco's Mocha cookies (90 calories)
·     1 Jelly Belly 100-calorie pack (100 calories)
·         One 100-calorie pack Trader Joe's Chocolate Graham Toucan Cookies (100 calories)
·         One 100-calorie Balance Bar (100 calories)
·         1 Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bar (120 calories)
·         1 package Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks (120 calories)
·         ½ banana rolled in 1 tbsp frozen semisweet chocolate chips (123 calories)
·         2 tbsp Better 'n Peanut Butter, 4 stalks celery (124 calories)
·         1 bag Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop Butter Mini Bag topped with a spritz of butter spray and 1 tsp sugar (126 calories)
·         24 Annie's Chocolate Chip Bunny Graham cookies (140 calories)
·         Half of a 1.08-oz container of M&M's Minis mixed with 1/3 cup lowfat granola (145 calories)
·         1 McDonald's Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait (160 calories)

·         1 container Fage Greek Total 2% fat yogurt, 2 tsp honey (173 calories)
Quit stuffing your face & face your stuff!
This weeks food find is actually one that I can't recommend, we had a free coupon for this and thought we would try it, not worth the calories.

I love turkey burgers so I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Naked Turkey Bruschetta Burgers

Servings: 5  • Size: 1 burger  • Calories: 288 • Fat: 14 g • Carb: 10 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 27 g •

·         1/4 cup chopped red onion
·         1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
·         1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
·         kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
·         3 medium vine ripe tomatoes
·         2 small cloves garlic, minced
·         2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
·         3 oz part skim mozzarella, diced

For the turkey zucchini burgers:
·         1.25 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
·         1 small zucchini, grated (1 cup, or 5 oz)
·         1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
·         1 clove garlic, grated
·         1 tbsp red onion, grated
·         salt and fresh pepper
·         oil spray
For serving:
·         2 medium tomatoes, sliced into 10 thin slices
·         4 loose cups baby arugula

Combine the red onion, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside a few minutes while you chop the tomatoes, then place in the bowl. Add the garlic, basil and additional salt and pepper, to taste and mix well and set aside. Toss in the cheese when ready to serve.

Squeeze the excess moisture from the zucchini in a paper towel. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, shredded zucchini, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Form into 5 equal sized patties about 5 oz each, forming them as flat as possible.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. When hot, lightly spray with oil. Add the burgers to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook another 4 minutes, careful not to burn

To serve, arrange 3 slices of tomatoes on each dish, then place 1 cup arugula on top in the center, then top with the burger and finish with the bruschetta (don't forget to add the cheese), serve right away.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fun at the Zoo

Saturday was a fun day as we went into Springfield to go to the zoo, but our first stop was at the Breadsmith a terrific bread bakery.  I just love their sourdough rolls and when ever we go into town I do my best to get there and pick some up.  After the bread stop we headed over to the zoo and of course our first stop there had to be at the giraffes, I really enjoy feeding them and get a kick out of watching them stick out their tongue.  We did find out that the female giraffes are a little bit more subdued and don't stick their tongues out as far as the males, who would of thought that!

Male or female?

We then worked our way over to the elephants as Saturday morning 11:00 am was bath day and we had never seen that.  When we got there the big male elephant was enjoying his bath and when he was finished the handler called out Moola, Moola and the smaller female who was on the far side of the enclosure picked up her head and started walking towards him.  As the handler kept calling her name she continued her slow walk to him for her bath and the male found the mud hole and was covering himself up with mud, so much for his bath.  Moola finally arrived at her designated place and the handler then turned on the fire hose to give her her bath. It looked like she was enjoying it as she kept getting as close as possible to the handler.

Moola getting a drink during her bath

As we were going through the zoo we came to the tigers and as often as we have gone to the zoo we have never seen a tiger in the water, but today was different, one of the tigers was almost under water.  It was pretty hot, close to 90 degrees with 70% humidity so i guess it was an opportunity to cool off.

Just laying there, only his head was out of the water

We just love our zoo and enjoy every opportunity we have to visit, it's not to big or to small, it's just right!

One of the walkways between enclosures, lots of green

While I'm thinking of it, whats going on with the price of gas?  It's gone up 30 cents in the last 2 days and the news says it will probably go up another 30 to 40 cents in the next few days.  Turmoil in Egypt?  There's turmoil in that part of the world all of the time, just another excuse!

I was thrilled with weigh-in this week as I MAINTAINED, no gain and no loss, maybe I've figured it out, I guess next week will tell me if I have.  Jan had another loss this week and is getting ever so close to her 5% goal.  It seems like I need to use around 15 of my points allowance each week in addition to my 32 daily points so I have been using some of them on a Dairy Queen mini Snickers Blizzard, 10 points and WORTH it!

Having trouble starting or keeping an exercise program going?  Here are 10 tips or tricks to help you out.

1. Be Consistent – Slow and steady, at least a little bit every day.
2. Follow an Effective Exercise Routine – Figure out what works for you - Strength training, interval training or cardio/aerobic exercise.
3. Set Realistic Goals - Don't strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can't be met.
4. Use the Buddy System - Find a friend or relative who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle.
5. Make Your Plan Fit Your Life – Home, gym or outside, what works for you?
6. Be Happy - Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing.
7. Watch the Clock - Your body clock. Try to work out at the time you have the most energy.
8. Call In the Pros – If you’re having trouble getting started.
9. Get Inspired - Fitness is a state of mind, who inspires you?
10. Be Patient - There will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories - Hang in there!

This weeks food find is one of Jan's favorites, I'll eat it but would just as soon have a Blizzard

Zucchini is plentiful this time of year so enjoy this weeks recipe

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Servings: 8 • Size: 1 boat • Calories: 153 • Fat: 7 g • Protein: 13 g • Carb: 9 g • Fiber: 2 g

·         1 1/4 cups marinara  sauce
·         4 medium zucchini
·         1 tsp oil
·         1/2 small onion, finely diced
·         3 cloves garlic, crushed
·         1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
·         14 oz lean Italian chicken sausage (remove casing)
·         1/2 cup part skim shredded mozzarella
·         8 tsp grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Preheat oven to 400°. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4" thick. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini in small pieces and set aside.

Drop zucchini halves in boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove from water, p
lace 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 12" baking dish, and place zucchini halves cut side up.

In a large saute pan, brown sausage, breaking up as it cooks into smaller pieces until browned; set aside. Heat oil and add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook on a medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chopped zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook about 2-3 minutes. Combine with sausage and cook a few more minutes

Using a spoon, fill each hollowed zucchini with 1/3 cup cooked sausage, pressing firmly. Top each with 2 tablespoons each of sauce, 1 tablespoon each of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 teaspoon each of Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through.

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