I’m a day late and a dollar short with the flavor of the week but here it is…zucchini! Granted it’s not really a flavor and not used to describe anything except actual zucchini, but our late-blooming zucchini plants have been producing and I thought I’d share some recipes this week to help get rid of any extra harvests from your garden.

It all starts here: the male flowers grow on skinny stems (left, yellow flower) while the female flower grows on a shorter mini-zucchini (right of male yellow flower.)

A couple of developing zucchini with their flowers closed.

Zucchini has never been my favorite, especially when served as enormous, unappetizing chunks in stir-frys or pasta primavera (it’s like cutting half a cabbage and asking everyone to dig in!) One way I did enjoy it was when my mother would make panko-crusted sticks of zucchini, deep fry it and serve it up with a mayo-shoyu dipping sauce on the side…delicious! But what am I doing with these zucchini plants if I don’t like to eat zucchini? Well, the initial idea was to mainly eat the flowers tempura-style, but I’ve been on a healthier-kick lately so no deep frying in the kitchen, at least for now. But there’s another way to enjoy zucchini on a healthier level, and that’s by making them into noodles!

Zucchini noodles are a great way to use up any extras you have lying around and, like any vegetable, is an extremely healthy addition to your diet. One large zucchini (about 3/4 pounds) has only 52 calories and is packed with fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, and B6, to name a few. Imagine replacing your regular pasta with nutritious zucchini noodles. Not only do you get more nutrients, but you save over 200 calories per meal!!!

Ready for a step-by-step on making zucchini noodles?

If you don’t have a vegetable spiral slicer, you can achieve similar results with a sharp vegetable peeler and a good knife. First, remove the skin from the zucchini. Use the vegetable peeler to peel of wide slices of zucchini, rotating after every two “peels”:

Rotate and slice until you reach the seeds. Stack two or three zucchini slices and carefully slice them into thinner noodle-like strands.

Use these zucchini noodles in place of regular pasta, just add them to your sauce and cook them gently for about 3 minutes to heat through. Enjoy an almost raw Zucchini Salad with Peanut Satay Sauce, or add a handful to your favorite chicken soup.

What’s your favorite healthy way to enjoy zucchini?

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I started my first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday, sponsored by Jenn at Peas and Crayons) last week mentioning I wanted to avoid wheat for a week. I find it better if I do, and if I eat more raw foods in place of cooked foods, I feel an increase in energy, my alertness and overall well-being. I still enjoy having foods that are cooked and sometimes have turkey sandwiches for lunch or eggs for breakfast, but I feel a lot better if I start the day off with something raw (and delicious!)

I get a lot of helpful tips and raw meal ideas from Gabby at The Veggie Nook. She posted this awesome Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Green Smoothie recipe, and talk about delicious! All that creamy, cozy goodness with no added sugar and high in vitamins. I made a few modifications to suit my own tastes, and think it’ll be a new breakfast favorite:

Gabby@VeggieNook’s “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Smoothie,” arguably the best green oatmeal ever!

This breakfast smoothie was so nice I ate it twice…but the second time around I made sure I had a big glass of water, it’s too thick to have on its own. I could only eat half of it so left the rest in the fridge for later.

A late lunch was a not-so-raw (but still nutritious) veggie-chicken soup with swiss chard, beans, pearl barley, red lentils, carrots, leek, and seasoned with a bit of Spike and a Ras en Hanout seasoning from a delicious Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe at REMCooks (thanks, Richard!):

Veggie soup is one of my favorites to make, you can throw all kinds of good stuff in it!

Since lunch was late, dinner was even later. I made one of my and my husband’s favorites, Chicken Tikka. To be honest, the only other time I’ve tried Chicken Tikka was at Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimuki on Oahu. They have tasty food, and I do love their fish curry, but this homemade version is better by a long shot:

(L-R): Chicken Tikka, Biriyani. Missing: lentils. :(

The recipe below is modified slightly from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal and serves 2. I must have read this book at least five or six times, cover to cover. Not only does it have delicious, easy-to-follow recipes and amazing photography, but a wonderful introduction to Ayurveda that gives you a good basis for understanding the importance of food as medicine, eating with the seasons, and learning more about overall well-being. (I am still learning about Ayurvedic cooking, so will probably read this book another five or six times!)

Chicken Tikka – serves 2
Allow a few hours to marinate; best if you can prep the night before. There will be more than enough marinade, and you could probably add another chicken breast or sop up all that extra sauce with some fresh baked naan. 

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3/4 cups Greek style nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons of Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder (recipe in cookbook) or Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine yogurt through mint leaves, mixing thoroughly. Add in cut up chicken breasts, stir to coat well. Marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken with yogurt sauce  in a 8″x8″ square pan and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until top starts to brown. Serve with rice or naan.

Have a super Wednesday, everybody, and eat well!