Loving the BITE: Nutritious Zucchini Pasta
From apples to sports drinks to supplements to zucchini, Loving the Bike’s got your nutrition needs covered on and off the bike. This week, let’s go ahead and talk zucchini. If you grow it, in all your spare time off the bike, you likely have it coming out of your ears by now. And even if not, you can surely find some on sale at the grocery store or Farmer’s Market.
But, why should cyclists eat it?
Turns out, it’s got lots nutrients to offer, and it makes a good pasta dish. In fact, it takes the place of the pasta.
Recipe of the Week: Zucchini Pasta
- 3/4 Tbsp. coconut oil (or avocado oil)
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 3 zucchini, peeled into long strips (skin, seeds, and all)
- 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan, grated (optional, if omitted, add salt to taste)
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lightly brown. Add sesame seeds.
2. Stir-fry zucchini until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Top with parmesan and fresh ground pepper, to taste.
4. As you would regular pasta, you can also top with extra virgin olive oil, homemade or commercial organic tomato sauce, and/or cooked chicken, if desired.
You’ve heard it here before; dinner is a great time for vegetables. A lot of vegetables. I recommend that you cover half your plate with them, every night. There are a few good reasons.
1) If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight to improve your power to strength ratio, these low-calorie, nutrient rich foods will give you a lot of benefit, without promoting fat storage (I’ve never had a client ruin their fat loss plan by eating too much zucchini). They’ll also fill you up with volume, and help you control the portions of other foods at dinner.
2) As an athlete, you need the extra antioxidants. All of us have a lot of damaging free radicals in our bodies; they are a natural product of many biochemical processes. As an athlete, you likely have some extra oxidative stress because you engage in extra biochemical processes: all the extra breathing, muscle contracting, and fuel metabolizing during training. Never fear, you just need some extra antioxidants from food like zucchini.
3) Disease prevention. Vegetables’ fiber, anti-inflammatory components, and cellular detoxifying agents simply promote cellular health and whole-body health. From the cells on up, they reduce our risk of many chronic diseases including Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer.
This week, blow it out of the water and get your vegetables as your main dish, zucchini pasta. In just one cup of zucchini, you’ll get:
- Twenty calories (compare this to 80-120 from pasta). Four grams of carbohydrates, 2.5 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
- Vitamin C (potent antioxidant), beta-carotene (potent antioxidant), folate, and potassium. After riding hard, zucchini can help you replenish potassium and fend off leg cramps.
- Anti-inflammatory components: The seeds of summer squash contain omega-3s, carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and anti-inflammatory starches.
- Anti-microbial and anti-parasitic properties: Dried summer squash seeds are often used in folk-medicine as treatment of intestinal parasites in some parts of the world.
If you’re still wondering what to do with all that zucchini, grate it (skin and all), and freeze it in individual portions. Add it to smoothies for a vegetable kick and a thickener.
It’s not flashy, it’s not trendy, it’s zucchini. And, that’s just fine with me. It provides antioxidants, fiber, protein, and anti-inflammatory components for very little calories. If you’re striving to be lean, strong cycling, it’s a good choice this week.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.