If your garden is overflowing with zucchini, or neighbors are gifting you with bags of homegrown summer squash, enjoy your unexpected abundance by making zoodles, a.k.a. zucchini noodles.
Because I have hypothyroidism and NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity), I don’t eat wheat or other gluten-containing grains. It’s not a hardship though! I find zoodles more satisfying than traditional wheat pasta. They’re a guilt-free way of “carb-loading” (1-1/2 cups raw zucchini has just 5 grams carbs), especially in warmer weather when the body naturally craves lighter, easy-to-digest, high-water foods.
Any way that you can eat more zucchini—or get your kids to eat more of it— is a win-win for your health. Zucchini is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C; high in energizing B vitamins; and high in potassium, a heart-healthy mineral and electrolyte that is easily depleted during vigorous exercise in hot weather. Zucchini is also an excellent anti-inflammatory food that can help with digestive issues, from IBS to leaky gut. One study also found that the polyphenols in zucchini peel may have beneficial effects on thyroid and adrenal function. Last, but not least, zucchini is a belly-flattening food that helps promote weight loss: it’s high in water (so, filling), low in calories and low in starch carbohydrates. Unfortunately, zucchini and yellow squash are genetically modified. Since current U.S. policy does not require labeling for GMO-containing foods, be mindful of buying organic, non-GMO zucchini or yellow crookneck squash.
Amazing health benefits aside, I eat zoodles because they’re simply delicious… They’re also incredibly versatile. You can eat them raw or cooked (I prefer my zoodles lightly cooked, to a toothsome al dente). During the summer, I love pairing zoodles with a fresh homemade basil pesto or an arugula pesto (see recipes below). When it’s cooler, I prefer topping with a more substantial spiced ground lamb ragu or a grass-fed ground beef and vegetable sauce. You can also toss zoodles with a raw cashew “cheese” sauce.
To make zoodles, you will need to invest in one inexpensive tool, a spiralizer (see photo). On one side, you insert your choice of blade for desired thickness of your zoodles. To create the zoodles, you “stake” the zucchini into a metal holder on one end, then, secure the zucchini with a multi-pronged clamp on the other end. As you turn the hand-crank, ribbons of noodle will cascade down on the other side. Making zoodles with a spiralizer is fun—and a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen (and eating more vegetables!).
Zoodles with Arugula Pesto or Basil Pesto
3 pounds of organic zucchini and/or yellow squash, well washed, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons unrefined or virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup water, if needed
Spiralize the zucchini and / or yellow squash. Place in a large bowl to hold.
Eat zoodles raw, if you wish.
To cook zoodles: In a Dutch oven, or a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid (preferably stainless steel or ceramic cast-iron; not non-stick), heat coconut oil over medium-high flame. Flick a drop of water into the pot. When it sizzles (the coconut oil should not be smoking), add the zoodles.
Stir well, making sure all the zoodles are well-coated with the coconut oil, about 1-2 minutes. If zoodles start sticking to the pot, add a little water. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 1-2 minutes, or until al dente. Do not overcook! Remove from heat immediately (and remove lid). Serve with arugula pesto, basil pesto or tomato-meat sauce.
To make pesto: Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Season to taste (you may want to add a little more garlic or Celtic sea salt).
To make pesto: Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Season to taste; you may want to add a little more garlic or Celtic sea salt.