Recently, I decided to scale back on carbs. While I toyed with the idea of doing the Whole 30 (it seems everyone I know is doing it, or has tried it), the diet just isn’t realistic for me on a number of levels. For starters, I truly believe everything is fine in moderation, unless of course you have a true sensitivity or allergy. I know many people have taken the route of this elimination diet to get at the source of triggers making them feel unwell. It’s such a bigger discussion about how our food is produced and sourced, but not one I want to get into here, and now.
The last two years I’ve struggled a lot with my weight, and self image. Regardless of whether people think I look good, my old jeans tell the story of a much thinner person. I look around at the women in my family—all sticks when they were younger, and all now, well, let’s just say Brooklyn Italian women get plump as they age. I never imagined leaving an urban environment where I walked every day, every where, would have such a dramatic effect on my weight, and yet it has. Lesson learned.
Physical fitness now needs to be a priority, not an after thought. My mode of transportation is now generally on four wheels, not two feet. Exercise isn’t enough, so I’m working on food choices, too. I could never truly eliminate carbs‚ life is too damn short. Could I make better choices about what carbs I enjoy, and how often I enjoy them? Absolutely.
I also ate much better when Mikey was alive. We ate a lot less meat; it was relegated to once or twice a week. My portions were also smaller, more in line with a smaller appetite. Overall, I was more health conscious. And yes, I was younger, chasing after two little kids.
And so, zoodles, noodles made from spiraled zucchini have become my best friend in this new discovery of moderation. At first, I thought this would be torture, but I realized that my love of pasta had more to do with the toppings. Pasta, and bread by default, were merely vehicles for sauce! I don’t have a real spiralizer, and while I should buy one, this little gadget I found in the hardware store last summer does the trick. There’s just one problem—it only spiralizes the outer edge of the zucchini, leaving you with a cylindrical piece of zucchini, where it just so happens the seeds are clustered. Sounds wasteful, right?
While making zucchini carbonara (recipe coming soon!) for lunch one day, I decided to put that leftover bit of zucchini to good use. You can certainly use this method with just cut up coins of zucchini, but if like me, you have a spiralizer that doesn’t cut up the whole zucchini, then this recipe will be especially handy.
I love the fresh flavors of the dill and lemon zest. The sliced almonds lend some texture to this otherwise tender dish of sautéed zucchini hearts (that’s my official name for the leftover zucchini cylinder). I don’t know how well, or long, the zucchini center will last if stored in the fridge as-is, so my advice is to cook this up immediately. You can always heat the dish when ready to eat, or just enjoy it cold, from the fridge. I’m thinking it would be a lovely addition to summer picnics, too!
Seven Years Ago: Zucchini & Walnut Muffins
Six Years Ago: Gnocchi, a love story
Five Years Ago: Cheddar Dill Butter
Four Years Ago: Roasted Rhubarb Jam
Three Years Ago: The Gift of Nothing
Two Years Ago: How To Make Violet Syrup
One Year Ago: Daybreak
Sautéed Zucchini with Sliced Almonds & Dill
Extra virgin olive oil
3 zucchini “hearts”, sliced into coins
1 garlic clove, chopped
Scant handful of sliced almonds
Few pinches of fresh dill, chopped
Fresh grated lemon zest, from 1/4 to 1/2 lemon
Add a thick swirl of oil to an 8-inch round skillet set over medium-high heat. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom with the oil. Add the zucchini, and cook until they begin to brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and shake than to turn the squash pieces over. Cook for 1 minute, then add the almonds. Season with salt. Cook until the almonds toast a bit, and the zucchini is tender, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the dill and lemon zest. Season with pepper. Eat hot, or cool, and store in the fridge at enjoy cold or at room temperature within a few days.