Say hello to your new clean eating best friend. Zucchini noodles are so easy to make and replace a traditional pasta perfectly. Plus tips and everything you need to know about zucchini and zucchini noodles.
Zoodles or zucchini noodles are the answer to the prayers of those who wanted to be able to eat their pasta dishes but maintain a clean and healthy diet at the same time. People like me, basically. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a classic pasta dish from time to time. But most of the times, I stick to my trusty zoodles.
These are so easy to make and actually replace a traditional pasta pretty darn well.
When you replace pasta with zucchini noodles, you still get that cozy feeling that comfort-food pasta dishes are loved for. But without all the carbs. And with fewer calories. And gluten-free.
But wouldn’t zoodles change the taste of pasta dishes?
Not as much as you think. And that’s because zucchini has a mild flavor so, instead of changing the taste of the dish, it picks up the flavors of the other ingredients used in the dish.
Ok, I like this idea. When is zucchini in season?
Summer is zucchini’s season. However, you can find zucchinis in grocery stores year round. Granted, the ones you will find during summer months are tastier but I wouldn’t trade my zucchini noodles for pasta the rest of the year.
Are you sold yet or do I have more convincing to do?
Actually, you know what, I will tell you other zucchini and zucchini noodles facts because I feel like you really have to understand how amazing zucchinis are.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF ZUCCHINI
I’ll start with listing the health benefits of zucchini but before that, here’s a fun fact about zucchini – zucchini is a fruit.
Nope, I’m not joking. This versatile veggie is actually a fruit. A fruit you should use as a veggie, of course, but still a fruit. Zucchinis are getting more interesting by the minute, am I right?
Back to the important conversation. What are the health benefits of zucchini?
- is low in calories;
- is low in carbs;
- contains 0 fat;
- is high in antioxidants;
- is high in fiber;
- is high in water;
- contains a significant amount of vitamins;
- contains potassium;
- contains manganese;
- contains lutein;
- contains minerals.
And, in case you don’t know why all those things are good for you, let’s get into more details.
- an increased amount of fiber means a healthy digestive system;
- low-fat foods that are high in fiber and potassium mean healthy blood circulation and a lower cholesterol level;
- lutein promotes eye health;
- folate boosts your energy levels;
- antioxidants boost your immune system;
- vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C promote health and help you stay energized.
I said zucchini is low in calories and low in carbs. So how many calories are in zucchini? Also, how many carbs?
1 cup of raw zucchini has approximately 20 calories. And about 5g of carbs.
For comparison purposes, let’s see how many calories and carbs are in the same amount of pasta.
1 cup of cooked pasta has approximately 200 calories. And about 40g of carbs.
That’s quite a big difference, don’t you think?
HOW TO PICK A ZUCCHINI
Choosing the right zucchini is an important deal. Especially if you want to make zucchini noodles. Wondering why?
- if your zucchini is overripe, you’ll end up with soft noodles that will break during cooking. That’s unfortunate.
- using a zucchini that is not ripe can lead to mushy noodles. That’s also unfortunate.
So here’ how to pick a zucchini:
- Look for a medium-sized zucchini that is relatively thin. Larger zucchinis are usually too watery to be transformed into zoodles. And they are not as flavorful as smaller zucchinis either.
- Check to see if the zucchini is firm. Buy it only if it is.
- The skin should be bright green and smooth. No blemishes should be present.
- Zucchinis with stems last longer so look or them if you want to store the zucchinis longer.
What is the difference between zucchini and squash?
Zucchinis are actually a type of squash so there’s no difference between them. There are different types of squash out there, yes. Zucchinis are the green summer type. Basically, zucchini is to summer what butternut squash is to fall.
Spiralizing zucchini. This is such a fun activity. If you used a spiralizer before, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, you have to learn how to make veggie noodles. Because you won’t get it until you try.
Making zucchini noodles can be done in many different ways. And there are different types of spiralizers you can try:
A handheld spiralizer is a spiralizer you have to hold in your hand and twist to make the zoodles. For TONS of other veggies, fruits, and starches that you can spiralize, check out this Guide To Using a Spiralizer post.
How to make zucchini noodles with a handheld spiralizer:
- trim the ends of the zucchini;
- place one end against the center of the blade;
- start to apply pressure and twist clockwise at the same time.
These mixer attachments are spiralizing blades that can be added to your mixer.
How to use mixer attachments to make zoodles:
- center the zucchini on the vegetable skewer;
- attach the spiralizer blade to the mixer according to the instructions that come with your mixer (usually, this means at the end of the zucchini);
- place a bowl under the zucchini to catch the zoodles;
- turn on the mixer and process until it reaches the end of your zucchini.
A countertop spiralizer is the most common and, might I add, the easiest to use one. I have this one.
How to use a countertop spirilizer to make zucchini noodles:
- trim the ends of your zucchini;
- insert your desired blade in the spiralizer;
- place the zucchini in the spiralizer;
- spin away until you’re done.
ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITHOUT A SPIRALIZER
You can also make zucchini noodles without a spiralizer. I didn’t own a spiralizer for a long time. But I was still making zucchini noodles. And so can you if you don’t have one.
How to make zucchini noodles without a spiralizer:
- use a vegetable peeler;
- use a grater;
- use a knife.
How to make zucchini noodles with a peeler:
- cut the ends of the zucchini;
- peel zucchini into long ribbons;
- make sure you apply light pressure on all sides.
How to make zucchini noodles with a grater:
- cut the ends of the zucchini;
- place your zucchini lengthwise against the grater;
- start from the top of the grater and go down in long strokes.
How to make zucchini noodles with a knife:
- cut the ends of the zucchini;
- using a sharp knife, carve strips from the zucchini;
- stop when you reach the core of the zucchini.
MAKING ZUCCHINI NOODLES AHEAD
Can you freeze zucchini? This is a question I get all the time.
I have bad news and good news.
Freezing zucchini noodles is not recommended. If you store them after cooking or if you freeze them, they become very mushy. And you want firm zoodles that do not break when you mix them with other ingredients. So cooking zucchini noodles ahead of time is also not an option. These are the bad news.
Now, the good news.
You can make zucchini noodles ahead of time and store them uncooked in an airtight container in the fridge. They last for up to 5 days like this.
You can also line the bottom of your container with a paper towel and place the zucchini noodles on top of it. The paper towel will maintain the moisture of the zucchini noodles and it will keep them fresh.
HOW TO COOK ZUCCHINI NOODLES
Before describing the cooking styles for making zucchini noodles, let me give you some general tips about how to cook zucchini noodles:
Don’t overcook them!
I know what you’re about to say. That’s only one tip. Yes, it’s true. However, it is a super important one. Overcooking zucchini noodles makes soggy noodles. This happens because the moisture leaks out of the zucchini. So, even if you are tempted to cook the zoodles until they are no longer crunchy, don’t do it.
How to saute zucchini noodles:
- heat a skillet over medium heat;
- add olive oil;
- add the zoodles;
- cook for 3-5 minutes;
- toss during cooking so all the zoodles cook through.
How to boil zucchini noodles:
- boil a pot of water;
- toss in the zucchini noodles;
- cook for 1 minute.
Ok, this method is actually called blanching. Blanching means cooking something (usually a veggie or a fruit) in boiling water for a brief period of time. However, blanching sounds fancy and complicated. And I didn’t want you to think making zucchini noodles is hard.
How to bake zucchini noodles:
- preheat the oven to 200°F;
- line a baking sheet with parchment paper;
- distribute the noodles on the baking sheet;
- cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
One more thing. Raw zucchini noodles are also a great option. If you heat up the pasta sauce and toss the zucchini noodles in, you’re good to go. I mean… ready to serve and eat.
3 HEALTHY ZUCCHINI RECIPES
No matter how amazing this zoodles recipe is, one zucchini recipe is never enough. Obviously, I have 3 more healthy zucchini recipes for you. I hope you are ready for them because – spoiler alert – they are yummy and addictive.
TURKEY AND QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS
This list of recommended zucchini recipes starts with a Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats recipe.
Besides being delicious, this recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner. And you can make more boats than you can eat at one meal and enjoy them as a make-ahead dinner during the week because they reheat really well. Get the recipe.
PARMESAN BAKED SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI SPEARS
The second recommended zucchini recipe is this Parmesan Baked Squash and Zucchini Spears recipe. These zucchini spears are great, clean, and, of course, healthy.
You can enjoy them as a healthy snack, a delicious appetizer or as a dinner side. Get the recipe.
SPINACH, EGG WHITE AND ZUCCHINI LUNCH WRAPS
When you want a quick and healthy lunch, these Spinach, Egg White and Zucchini Lunch Wraps are perfect.
Flavorful, high in protein, filling, and ready in 15 minutes. I’m sure this recipe will become one of your go-to zucchini recipes. Get the recipe.
How To Make Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles are so easy to make and replace a traditional pasta pretty darn well.
- 4 medium zucchini
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Cut both ends flat. No need to remove the peel, as it’s edible and nutritious.
Place firmly into the prongs of the spiralizer.
If cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the spiralized zucchini, sea salt, and pepper, and cook, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until the zucchini begins to become tender. Do not overcook, or the zucchini will become mushy.
Typically, one medium zucchini will yield enough zucchini for one serving.
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