Zucchini Chips

Zucchini Chips

A Healthy Snack

While some people love a sweet snack, others will reach for something salty.  And for those who go for salty, crispy, crunchy snacks usually choose something like French fries or potato chips when it’s time to munch on something.  Let’s be honest, these aren’t exactly the healthiest option out there.  While it is possible to get reduced fat, baked options on the chip aisle and with frozen fries, there are still better options out there.

Chips-Veggie Style

If you are in search of a tasty and crunchy alternative to the snacks you usually reach for, try zucchini chips.  While zucchini is already a delicious vegetable low in carbs and calories, a lot of people don’t realize how incredibly versatile it is.  One of the many forms you can cook zucchini in is that of a chip and by using the right mix of seasonings you can enjoy a guilt free but oh-so tasty snack.

The Basics

Another great thing about zucchini chips is that they are so easy to make.  All you need to get started is three ingredients:  2-3 medium zucchini very thinly sliced, a knife or mandolin, and cooking spray or a heart healthy oil such as olive or grapeseed.  To make slicing very easy and to ensure you get uniform slices, I highly recommend using a mandolin.  This simple, inexpensive kitchen tool makes slicing or even julienning vegetables extremely easy and saves a considerable amount of time.  When you oven bake your zucchini chips, you can use vegetable spray on your pan or apply a small amount of oil directly to the chips.

Variations

Begin with a preheated 225 degree oven and 2 large baking sheets.  If you like you can line them with aluminum foil or parchment paper (use parchment for the salt and vinegar recipe).  Perhaps the most difficult part of this process is deciding which variation of zucchini chips you want to go with.  Regardless of the recipe you choose, just make sure the zucchini slices are tightly placed in straight lines on your baking sheets and make sure they don’t overlap.  For an even crunchier chip and to reduce baking time, lay your sliced zucchini on paper towels to pull out moisture before moving them to the baking sheets.

If you like salt and vinegar potato chips, try the same concept for zucchini chips.  Mix together 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (it’s flavor neutral so the tang of the vinegar really pops) with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar (optional-pricey and hard to find).  Use a pastry brush to coat your zucchini with this mixture then add a very light dusting of kosher or sea salt.  Please go easy with the salt as the chips do shrink and too much will ruin them.  Bake these for 2 hours or until they begin to brown and are crisp.

Another very popular option is Parmesan zucchini crisps, perfect for those who like a cheesy flair to their snacks.  Since these do use cheese you will need to adjust your oven temperature and cook time to avoid overcooking.  Instead of 225, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  You will use the same amount of zucchini but toss the slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl or plastic bag.  Dip the slices in a mix of ½ cup panko bread crumbs, 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and for those who like a kick-add 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Make sure each side of each round is evenly coated before baking for 25 to 30 minutes.

 

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille Recipe

Slow Cooker Ratatouille Recipe

Does anything taste better than a great dish that has been perfectly prepared in a slow cooker? Many people think that it is the best way to prepare food. Everything comes out full of flavor and the juices just flow out of the food and create an explosion of flavor with every single bite of the dish that you take. And the best part about all of it is that, once the prep work for the dish is done, you just set the slow cooker and forget about it until it is done several hours later! Yes, using a slow cooker is truly an excellent way to prepare food, and your guests will often marvel at your culinary expertise. The next time you really want to wow some dinner guests, be sure to try out this slow cooker ratatouille recipe.

What Ingredients Does Rataouille Require?

If you will look past the obviousness of this statement, the ingredients really make the dish. Chefs that want quality food make sure that they use the finest ingredients. Savvy diners can always taste the difference when a dish is prepared with something less than the freshest components, and you do not want that for your guests. For ratatouille, here is what you will need:

2 large onions, cut in half and sliced
large eggplant, sliced, cut in 2 inch pieces
4 small zucchini, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large green bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Red pepper flakes, to spice it up

How to Prepare Ratatouille

Of course, having the finest ingredients in all the known universe will not make a lick of difference if you fail to prepare the dish correctly. Fortunately, as mentioned earlier, when making a dish in the slow cooker, the hard part is the prep work. Once the ingredients are ready to be put in the pot, all you have to do is arrange them correctly, and your work is done. With a delicate dish like this slow cooker ratatouille recipe, it seems like it would be much more complicated than it actually is. So follow these steps and wow your guests.

  1. Layer half the vegetables in a large crock pot in the following order: onion, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, green peppers, and tomatoes.
  2. Sprinkle half the basil, oregano, sugar, parsley, salt and pepper on the veggies.
  3. Dot with half of the tomato paste.
  4. Repeat layering process with remaining vegetables, spices and tomato paste.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours.
  7. Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Cream of Zucchini Soup

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If you're a mom on the go, you're likely always looking for recipes that you can freeze or make ahead of time. Cream of zucchini soup is a delicious addition to a fall meal. The soup is rich in fiber and protein, and will go great with entrees like grilled chicken breast or a grilled cheese sandwich. This recipe is low in fat and easy to prepare--the whole family is likely to ask for seconds.

You can make the dish creamy by adding soy or low-fat sour cream, or chicken broth and low-fat butter, so you don't have to use heavier ingredients for the entree to be tasty. You'll need about six medium zucchini to make this tasty soup, so that you'll have enough to save for later. Adding squash or eggplant makes the entree even more nutritious and colorful. The rest of the ingredients you need for the recipe are:

4 garlic cloves
one small onion, chopped
64 oz of fat free, organic chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian)
4 tbsp of low-fat sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the chopped vegetables and broth in a large pot and cook on medium heat. Let the mixture boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes to help give it a creamy consistency. Take the dish from the heat and add the sour cream. With an immersion blender, mix all the ingredients in the pot until they are smooth. You can add Parmesan cheese to the dish as well for added flavor.

If you want to eliminate cream from the entree altogether, boil one large potato and puree it before adding it to the dish. Then, use the hand blender to make the recipe especially thick and rich.

In addition to eating this entree with grilled lean meat or a sandwich, you can serve this savory treat with grilled garlic bread or roasted vegetables like asparagus, sweet potatoes and carrots. After your family has their fill for the night, pour this delightful zucchini dish into freezer-safe bags so you can freeze it and use it as a make ahead meal for another night. Enjoy!