Planting your own garden is the best thing: you get lots of fresh vegetables that are available to go easily grab whenever you need them, and you get to avoid exposure to any chemicals or pesticides that is often added to the grocery store products.
But sometimes, having your own produce means that when things are ready, they’re ready all at once, and it’s hard to keep up with the demand!
For me, one of those things is always zucchini! They come by the boatload, and are not small in size. And as a result, I’ve figured out lots of great, healthy ways to use them, many of which act as great substitutes to higher calorie options, making the zucchini a great choice for weight loss.
Here’s what you can do with your overgrowing zucchini patch:
- Zucchini oats – One of the latest trends to take off, zucchini oats are the low carb alternative to your favourite morning oatmeal. Whether you choose to make them out of just zucchini, or do a combination of zucchini and oats, this healthy vegetable soaks up flavours well and is a great fiber packed breakfast option. To make “Zoats,” simply grate the zucchini with a cheese grater or using your food processor attachment, and place in a pot with a bit of water and your usual oatmeal fix’ins, such as cinnamon, hemp hearts, almond butter and coconut milk. Cook over medium until zucchini is tender and then top with berries. Just remember not to add too much water at the start, because unlike oats, zucchini releases water when cooked, instead of absorbing water!
- Smoothies – I’m a big fan of maximizing the vegetable content in my smoothies, and in fact, most days have more veggies in my smoothie than fruit. It’s a great way to boost your fiber and nutrient content, while keeping your sugar intake low. Zucchini has become one of my staple smoothie vegetables. It doesn’t alter the flavor, adds fiber and bulk, and as long as the skin isn’t tough, blends up smoothly and mixes in easily. Along with spinach, your green smoothie is well on its way!
- Spiralize – Although I have spiralized a lot of vegetables, including everything from turnip to beets to sweet potato to daikon, zucchini is by far my favorite and the one I come back to every time. It is the perfect texture when spiralized and does well soaking up spicy tomato sauce, or coating itself in creamy vegan cheese sauce. Plus, if you’re spiralizing vegetables to eat in place of pasta, it totally gives you the liberty to have a bowl as heaping full as you would like. And who can say no to a heaping bowl of creamy pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil?
- Breads – You’ve heard of zucchini bread, and maybe chocolate zucchini bread, but don’t stop there at your bread and zucchini creations. Because zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor, it lends moisture to breads without changing the taste. This means you can use zucchini to substitute for some of the oil or butter in bread recipes and reduce the fat content while boosting the content of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Experiment with both sweet and savoury bread, turn of the batter into muffins, or even add it to your pancakes and waffles!
- Lasagna sheets – Just like zucchini works really well as noodle pasta, it also works really well as sheet pasta. This is especially the case if you have a large zucchini and a mandolin, or large peeler, where you can cut off large size sheets of zucchini to enjoy as the pasta alternative to your favourite lasagna. Fill between the sheets with a spicy tomato sauce, creamy vegan cheese sauce and spinach and white been “ricotta,” and you will have healthy, vegan friendly lasagna that also gives you several servings of vegetables!
- Baked – Don’t think that you have to only chop, spiralize or grate your zucchini to enjoy it at its best. You can also cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stuff it up to make zucchini boats. You can cut it into disks and use them as the base for things like roasted tomatoes, or crackers for dipping into hummus and better yet, spread with pesto, bake and then top with some fresh tomato.
Zucchini really is one versatile veggie and the possibilities are endless for using up summer your abundance!