The Zucchini Challenge

Aloha friends!

One of my friends called me up the other week and asked if she could drop by to give me a zucchini. Her husband's boss grows zucchini in his garden and gave them four giant ones, and she was lovely enough to share the wealth! I'm not actually a huge fan of zucchini, but I accepted the challenge of trying to figure out the different ways I could eat this zucchini to make sure it doesn't go to waste. So let's get to it:

1. Chocolate-zucchini muffins: This was the first thing on my list, well because, I always seem to have a craving for muffins of some sort. It actually takes a lot of effort on my part to restrain myself from constantly making muffins to enjoy with my morning tea or coffee. I'm already dreaming of all the muffin flavours I love to make in the fall, but that is not to be mistaken for wishing it was fall -- summer can stay as long as it wants! Anyways, what's great about these muffins is that you can't even taste the zucchini, so if you want to tell yourself these muffins are a healthy choice because there is a hidden veggie inside, by all means go ahead :D

Give the recipe a try yourself:

2. Zucchini Sauté: Samantha sent me a recipe for an easy to make side dish when I told her about my zucchini challenge. This is so simple, but it makes for a great side dish for any dinner: Heat up oil in a pan and cook sliced almonds until browned, toss in zucchini and apples and cook until warmed. Season with salt, pepper, and Parmesan. That's all!

Give the recipe a try yourself. The only adaptation I made was throwing in green apples I had in the fridge that were on their way to spoiling (a good way to prevent food waste):

Enjoyed this side dish with salmon and sweet potatoes.

Enjoyed this side dish with salmon and sweet potatoes.

3. BBQ Zucchini: 'Tis the season for backyard grilling! We have been having really beautiful weather lately, so it would be silly not to take advantage of using the BBQ. I decided to make chicken skewers with zucchini, pepper, red onion and mushrooms marinated in a sauce (see recipe below). As a side, I made roasted herb potatoes, mixed green salad, and grilled zucchini slices. I was in heaven eating this dinner. It had been a long day at work, and this meal hit the spot. 

Disclaimer: If you want to make this meal yourself, watch out for BBQ's with a bite! I'm not really sure what happened, but I turned on the BBQ, it went POOF, and singed off a bunch of my arm hair. My friend who was making dinner with me had a good laugh, which meant I made her be the one to re-try turning the BBQ back on. 

As for the sauce (you can play around with the amounts to suit your own tastes):

1/3 c ketchup

1/3 c packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/3 c soy sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

1.5 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar

4 cloves garlic

1 tbsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

Source: My friend got this recipe from a cooking session during her placement at the Guelph Community Health Centre.


4. Zucchini pasta: I don't have one of those spiralizer contraptions, so I literally used a potato peeler to make zucchini ribbons. Nothing fancy, but it did the job. I cooked the  zucchini ribbons over oil in a pan and added in the leftover chicken skewers with a mushroom tomato sauce. I really wanted to do more with the zucchini (e.g., breaded fried zucchini, zucchini au gratin), but it was the Friday of the long weekend and I knew I had a bunch of events with lots of food ahead of me so it just went all in with the pasta.

Although the post is focused on my own zucchini challenge to make sure it did not go to waste, it is a good reminder to consider the idea of reducing our food waste in general. There is a research group at the University of Guelph that looks at food wasting habits in Canada, including what we waste, why we waste it, and our behaviours, attitudes, and beliefs around food waste. A few of the main findings include: On average we waste about 4.5 kg of food a week, about half of that waste is fruits and veggies (something many Canadians are already lacking in their diet, with many not meeting recommendations), and for those who are more concerned about food waste, not surprisingly, they waste less! Just some food for thought to end off this post.

xoxo Michelle