As a kid, zucchini was up there in my list of least delicious vegetables. I would always tried to leave it on my plate! But now, since I started studying nutrition, I realise how important it is to eat ALL your veggies, and, that you need to eat at least 5 servings a day. (1 serve = 1 cup/ 250ml) For many people this sounds like an excessive amount of vegetables!
The trick to getting it all in is to get creative in the kitchen; include at least 5 different types of vegetables in your salad at lunch, snack on vegetables like celery, carrot and capsicum (bell peppers) with hummus throughout the day, or get crafty at dinner with vegetable stir-fries, delicious salads, frittatas, fresh vegetable soups or roast vegetable stacks.
Recently I’ve started making Zucchini “pasta” and it has become one of my favorite meal. Zucchini’s are high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, beta carotene, manganese, calcium, vitamin C and B vitamins – sounds like a superfood to me!
The other benefit of substituting vegetables like zucchini, for pasta, is that you avoid consuming the processed carbohydrates, which most pastas are made from. Your average supermarket pasta is high in calories and has a high glycaemic index (meaning the glucose in the pasta, breaks down very quickly, spiking your blood sugar levels). On top of that, most pasta’s contain gluten, which can irritate our digestive system (even if you don’t have celiac’s disease). Freshly made, whole grain pasta is delicious, and I’m not suggesting you completely remove it from your diet. Pastas (particularly standard supermarket varieties) have become a go-to meal for many, it’s cheap and quick to cook and all you have to do is add a bottle of pasta sauce (which are generally high in salt and sugar!)
Substituting pasta for vegetable ‘pasta’ is a great way to reduce your intake of processed carbohydrates, and more importantly get more veggies in! It’s just as quick, and for all those pasta lovers, the difference in taste is delicious! Though it may take a little more time (compared to opening a packet!) cutting your zucchini into spaghetti like strips is fun. You’ll need a good sharp knife (or alternatively you can use a julienne vegetable peeler or a spiraliser).
To start, slice your ‘pasta’ (I used 6 zucchinis for 2 large servings). Then, in a large fry pan or wok, place a few cut up cloves of garlic, an onion and some butter. After a few minutes add cherry tomatoes and olives, cook for a few more minutes. I prefer to cut the cherry tomatoes in half to allow some of that tomato flavor to really mix into the zucchini. Add the zucchini on top of the tomatoes etc and place a lid on top, steam/ heat for 5-10 minutes, the zucchini will soften. Remove from the heat, place in a large bowl stir in 1-2 cups of ricotta and the pesto.
If you wish to make your “pasta” dairy free as well, simply skip the ricotta and just at the pesto. I usually make my own pesto, but a good quality pesto from your local deli is just as good. To make your own pesto you need:
1 cup olive oil – cold pressed and organic
1 cup of cashews (or alternatively you could use pine nuts or walnuts)
1 cup of parmesan cheese
2 cups of basil leaves.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you reach desired consistency. If you prefer your presto less dense, just add more oil. Serve your pasta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper. You could also add a few handfuls of spinach or rocket (arugula), for freshness, flavor, and even more vegetables in one delectable meal.
Bellissima! (As the kings of pasta say)
Madame Nourish (aka Jess) loves green juices, fresh coconuts, quinoa cookies, sun salutes and the ocean. She is about to complete a nutritional medicine diploma and is a qualified yoga teacher!