Saving and using healthy delicious zucchini

Saving and using healthy delicious zucchini

Zucchini is an amazing squash that not only has health benefits, but is versatile in recipes. It is good as appetizers, main dishes and desserts. The following information shows the health benefits of zucchini, tips and how-to information for ways to store excess zucchini, and recipes that use zucchini as the main ingredient.

Health Benefits

Zucchini contains fiber, which helps in digestion, avoids constipation problems and helps keep a person from overeating.

Many people suffer from “bad” cholesterol. In America, 33.5% (71 million adults), have “bad” cholesterol. Only 1/3rd of the adults have cholesterol under control. High cholesterol levels double the risk of heart disease.

Zucchini contains vitamins C, A, and folate, which are powerful antioxidants that fight cancer.

The benefit for men is that zucchini helps prevent prostate gland problems that lead to urination and sexual function complications.

Vitamins C and A, as well as the copper found in zucchini are anti-inflammatory agents that help in combating inflammatory disorders (asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis).

Zucchini contains magnesium which helps lower blood pressure and aids in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Tips for uses for excess zucchini

Shred it, skin and all, bag and freeze it for later use in recipes.

When defrosting the zucchini, it will contain excess water. Squeeze the excess liquid out of it before use.

Canning zucchini is another way to preserve the excess. This website gives several ideas for canning.

Recipes for Zucchini

(All recipes are adapted from original recipes found online or cookbooks. They are changed by taste preference).

Appetizers

Baked Zucchini Chips (serves 8)

Ingredients

4 zucchini cut into ¼ inch slices
1 cup dried Italian panko bread crumbs (or regular dried bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (sharp or mild, depending on taste)
1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (or regular black pepper – depending on preference to spiciness)
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 475 F degrees. Prepare the baking sheet with foil and slightly oil the surface. Place bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper in a bowl. In separate bowl, add slightly beaten eggs. Dip zucchini slices into egg and coat with bread crumb mixture. Put slices on the baking sheet so they are separate.

Bake for 5 minutes. Turn chips over and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until crisp.

Mini Zucchini Bites (makes 12)

Special Utensil: Mini muffin pan. If none available, use ice cream scoop to place mixture on foil covered baking sheet.

Ingredients

2 cups shredded zucchini (approximately 3 zucchini) – zucchini has natural moisture. Use a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture.
1 small sweet onion diced
2 clove garlic crushed and minced (or 1 teaspoon dried garlic powder)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (sharp or mild depending on taste)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs (for a delightful change, try dried Italian Panko crumbs)
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease mini muffin pan or slightly oil foil baking sheet. In a bowl, put eggs in first then add the rest of the ingredients, mixing after each addition. Place mixture in mini muffin pan, or use scoop and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Additional tip: Serve with a dip on the side.

Main Dishes – One for vegetarians and one for meat eaters

Vegetarian (Vegan) Zucchini Main Dish (Adapted from Naturally Ella – this is a great website for vegans and vegetarian recipes)

Zucchini (Summer) Paella (adapted to serve 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil (or Mediterranean oil)
2 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, diced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons tumeric (saffron (pinch) is recommended if tumeric is not available)
1 cup short grain brown rice
2 large tomatoes diced
4 tablespoon water1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed) or 1 cup cooked dried chickpeas.
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
10 zucchini slices (6 ½ inches)

Directions

To make this easier, use a blender for mincing and dicing. If possible, use a mandoline slicer for cutting veggies. It makes consistent slices.

Using a large skillet or pan, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in diced shallots and minced garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add smoked paprika, tumeric and brown rice and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Stir in diced tomatoes, water and chickpeas, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Pour in veggie broth, and layer zucchini slices on top of the dish. Push zucchini into the broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low. Cook approximately 40 minutes without stirring until rice has absorbed the liquid. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini (serves 4)

Ingredients

8 zucchini sliced in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and flesh. Save.
3 mild Italian sausages removed from casings (spicy Italian sausage is a good alternative if spiciness is desired)
¼ cup olive oil (or Mediterranean oil)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock or broth (low sodium)
1 can (14 ½ oz) diced tomatoes
For topping: 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1 cup breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Oil a casserole dish and place cleaned zucchini into a casserole dish so they fit close together.

Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet or heavy kettle. Break sausage up, and fry in oil until brown. Remove from skillet. Saute onion and garlic until soft and golden (5 to 10 minutes). Add the rest of the ingredients (including scrapings from zucchini) and bring to a boil. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add sausage.

Using a slotted spoon, stuff each zucchini with mixture. Do not worry if mixture spills out of the zucchini. Put cheese on top of each zucchini and breadcrumbs on top of cheese. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until the top browns. Spoon excess sauce over zucchini. Serve with rice. Jasmine or Basmati give a delightful aroma to this dish.

Desserts

Simple Healthy Banana Zucchini cake with Orange Cream Frosting

Ingredients for cake

1 cup grated zucchini
2 small bananas mashed
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter (butter substitute)
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 large egg
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting ingredients

4 tablespoons softened butter
4 ounces cream cheese softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for cake

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees; line a square 9 x 9 inch dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray (or oil and flour the dish)

Melt butter, cool slightly and whisk sugars, egg, yogurt, vanilla into the butter. Add zucchini and bananas and stir to combine.

Add flour, baking soda and stir until just combined. Do not over mix, or cake will lose its moistness. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake approximately 40 minutes, or until, when moved, it does not jiggle in the center. The toothpick test is unreliable because of the bananas and zucchini softness which will leave a residue. Cool before frosting.

Directions for frosting

Beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric beater on low. Add the powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in vanilla extract.

Zucchini is healthy and versatile. One can never have too much! The above information gives you all the nutritional value you need to know about, as well as recipes which will help you to make the most of excess zucchini.

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