Thursday, 1 January 2015
Raw Zucchini Noodles
2015 is finally here! I hope everybody had a great New Years. One of the most common goals and resolutions that people (myself included) make this time of year is to get in shape. While exercise is an important factor in this ambition, nutrition and eating right are just as crucial (if not more). This creates a number of difficulties for people because eating healthy often isn't as exciting or satisfying as eating whatever you want. So it's important to find new ways to keep healthy food interesting. One of my favourite low-fat, low-carb, paleo and vegan/vegetarian-friendly ingredients is raw zucchini eaten as pasta noodles. That might sound strange but it's actually quite delicious. I was blown away the first time I tried it. It stimulates the same satisfaction your brain experiences when eating heavy, starchy pasta but using a raw vegetable.
It's versatile because you can top it with whatever you like and never eat it the same way twice. I admit that it's not quite as filling as regular pasta, but get this: one cup of raw zucchini is about 19 calories while one cup of cooked pasta is about 182 calories. Think about that! You could go back for seconds and thirds and you'd still be eating a fraction of the normal calories you'd expect from the real thing. The only real catch is that you need a specific gadget to turn the zucchini into noodles. On a budget you could simply grate the zucchini and pretend they are like orzo but there's something about an almost linguine-like zucchini noodle that is irresistible.
My best friend has such a gadget and we love to experiment with the ole zucchini pasta idea. There are different companies that produce different versions of this apparatus so rather than turning this into an advertisement, I'd rather share with you the concept so you can explore those options on your own. If you're curious about the price, one of these costs about $30 in Canadian currency.
It couldn't be faster or simpler, which makes this perfect for a healthy weekday meal if you have lots of other stuff to do. It's just a matter of cranking the zucchini through the machine and it will slice perfect noodles in seconds.
All you need to do is slice both tips off of the ends of a zucchini and place it in the device. One zucchini will make a single serving. Larger zucchinis tend to be bland in flavour and quite spongy in texture so take a quality-over-quantity approach when you choose your zucchini.
As you manually turn the handle it presses the zucchini through the blades to crank out spirally noodles.
Usually these machines will core the zucchinis, which removes the edible yet less desirable portion, speaking in terms of texture. You may discard the core, but we always end up munching on them.
Literally within seconds you end up with a serving of fresh, raw, spirally zucchini noodles awaiting whatever sauce or toppings you choose.
We've played around with this concept in a variety of ways but this particular night we did one of our favourites. We tossed the zucchini in garlic-infused olive oil and fresh lemon juice. In a pan we sautéed shrimp, peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes and slices of garlic then added them to the noodles with some fresh lemon zest.
I never get sick of this stuff. It's about time I got one of these machines of my own. You can pump out a beautiful, colourful, healthy, lean dinner like this in under ten minutes. It never ceases to amaze me. You're not restricted to zucchini either. There are an infinite number of other ingredients that you can use this machine for to create fantastic bases or garnishes to your dishes. You can imitate noodles like we've done here or make some very interesting salads.
On top of everything, it's delicious! I was skeptical about raw zucchini at first. It's a vegetable that I never appreciated as a kid and even now it's not something I would just take a bite out of as a snack. This technique makes it so incredibly edible that I stumble to come up with the right words to describe it. It's something you'll just have to try to believe.
There are so many amazing things in store for the blog this year and coming very soon. Don't stray too far. Until next time!