My garden has a plethora of delicious veggies right now, but I have to say I currently have a favorite. Its so versatile and nutrient dense, plus it is very easy to grow! I’m talking about zucchini of course.
Zucchini offers a number of nutrients that are beneficial to our health. It is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and Manganese, plus one cup offers 58 mg of Omega 3’s as well. It’s also a source of protein and fiber, though neither in large amounts, it’s still a good addition to any meal.
Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation. Low sodium and high potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure while fiber, such as the polysaccharide in zucchini, lowers cholesterol levels. Zeaxanthin and lutein, also found in zucchini, are especially useful in maintaining and improving eye health by fighting free radicals. This reduces the risk of developing age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin, and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods. Plus so many more health benefits!
The biggest thing I love about zucchini, though, is its versatility. Craving something sweet but don’t want to give in to unhealthy treats? Make Zucchini bread. Want a yummy, cheesy side dish for your paleo meal? Try zucchini tots. Thinking more of a crispy “breaded” option? How about baked zucchini chips. Love yourself a good salad? Shred up zucchini and add it in. Want to save some fresh-from-your-garden zucchini for recipes this winter? Shred it, vacuum seal it and throw it in the freezer. There’s so many options!
This week, I picked a few zucchini from my garden and tried two new recipes that my whole family ended up loving- cheesy zucchini tots and a new paleo zucchini bread recipe. They both turned out fantastic! I want to share both recipes with you because I think your family will love them too! And what a great way to sneak in veggies for picky kids- they wont know the tots OR the bread have zucchini in them! Win-win in my book!
Here’s the recipe for the delicious paleo-friendly zucchini bread:
1 cup grated zucchini 1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 cup almond flour 3 whole eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 4.5" by 5.5" bread pan with parchment paper.
Combine all of the ingredients for the bread (except the zucchini) in a mixing bowl.
Grate the zucchini, squeeze out some water using cheese cloth or paper towels, then add it into the batter.
Once the batter is combined and smooth, pour it into the loaf pan.
Bake the loaf on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 5 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Let cool, cut into slices and top with grass fed butter or locally made jam.
SO DELICIOUS! I could eat the whole loaf myself… but I will share since my family loves it too! Here’s the recipe for the zucchini tots ( that your kids will love and wont know are healthy):
2 cups packed shredded zucchini
2 large eggs
2/3 cups shredded Italian blend cheese, or your choice of cheese
1/2 cup crushed rice cereal such as Rice Chex or gluten-free rice puffs, *OR breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Shred the zucchini and measure out 2 cups tightly packed. Dump the zucchini onto a paper towel. Then use another paper towel to press out as much moisture as possible. Discard the paper towels. Place the zucchini in a large bowl.
Crush the rice cereal into fine crumbs. Add the eggs, cheese, crushed rice cereal, herbs, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Mix well to combine.
Using a 2-teaspoon cookie scoop, spoon out tightly packed portions of zucchini mixture and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
*Note: If your recipe does not need to be gluten free, you can substitute bread crumbs for the rice cereal.
These made a perfect side dish for my garlic chicken and roasted asparagus. SO yummy.
Zucchini have such a versatile place in the kitchen and are very nutrient dense. I hope you try some new ways to eat it. Make sure to pick some up from your local produce stand or farmers market. Or, better yet, grow some in your backyard! You can even grow zucchini in a large planter if you don’t have space for a garden. Until next time, love your body and your food, and relish in the bounty of an Edible Earth!