Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini fritters, pancakes, latkes, whatever you want to call them- you need to swap your zoodle spiralizer and whip out the grater for a weeknight dinner, snack, or appetizer upgrade!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had more time than usual to think of new recipes to experiment with for the week. I always make my “go-to” dinners, but I need to change things up in the kitchen. Anyone else tend to eat the same thing day after day? My motivation post a long day at work, working out, and then commuting home is pretty much non-existing. If something isn’t already prepared or requires minimal brainpower, I will either spoon enough nut butter with yogurt to call it a day or mash avocado on toast.

Since zucchini is the main vegetable that I constantly buy, love, and have an abundance of, I knew this would be the easiest veggie to change up since it doesn’t require any change in my usual run to the market.

While searching different websites for ideas, I kept coming across different types of fritters – carrots, sweet potatoes, chickpeas etc – I knew I wanted to try making zucchini ones.

My mom and I headed straight to the kitchen and decided to get to work.  We experimented with two small zucchini and a simple batter of egg, flour, onions, salt and pepper.  I mixed up the flour and herbs while she chopped up the onions, which we later realized that we added too many onions. We were basically eating an onion fritter! We also forgot to add the egg, which we took out of the fridge, but had no IDEA where it went rolling off.  Hopefully, it’s not something we will find months later…

Anyways, after realizing the mistakes we made with the first batch, I knew exactly what needed to change. We didn't allow the zucchini to release enough of the water, which resulted in a somewhat soggy middle section of the fritter. Zucchini has so much water. I am surprised every single time I cook zucchini as to how much water is released. Also, we should have flatted the zucchini fritter with the back of the spatula after dropping the mixture in the skillet. They needed less chopped onion and a more even balance of spices and herbs. 

Once I was back in my own kitchen, I made the changes and they came out perfect! I decided to use almond flour and added a scant amount of curry powder- it made such a difference! The curry powder definitely balanced out the other flavors and gave the fritters a little kick! Allowing the grated zucchini to release the excess moisture will make a difference in the crispy mushy ratio, but if you are short on time and want these ready in less than 30 minutes- they will still come out tasty! I would suggest keeping the fritters on the skillet for a few extra minutes.

If you are opposed to lightly frying the fritters you can certainly bake them in the oven until they have become golden brown.

They make such a great snack, appetizer, or addition to your usual scrambled eggs in the morning!

Appetizer/Main Meal/Side
Yields: 12
Prep time: 1 hour [depending]
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

6 small organic zucchini
3 cloves of garlic, minced & chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. curry
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
¾ cup almond flour or coconut flour (or any flour your prefer)
1 tsp. baking powder
Olive oil or coconut oil for frying

Optional add ins:
Chopped parsley or cilantro
Scallions
Lemon zest
 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Slice off the ends of the of the zucchini and grate them on the large holes of a grater.

Place the grated zucchini in a large strainer. {I placed the strainer over a large bowl and placed it in the sink} Add 2 tsp. of salt and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  The longer you let the zucchini sit the more moisture will drain out. This will ensure a crispy fitter versus one that is very soggy.  After 30 minutes or an hour wring out the zucchini or pat the zucchini dry with a paper towel. 

**While the zucchini is releasing the moisture in the strainer you can continue on with the recipe.

Over medium high heat add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil to a sauce- pan.  Once the oil becomes warm, add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 4-5 minutes. 

In the same pan, add the chopped onions and continue to sauté for another 8-10 minutes or until the onions have become to caramelize or brown. Set aside.

In a large bowl add the almond four, salt, pepper, curry powder, baking powder & mix. Next, add the onions, garlic, and the strained zucchini.  Mix together.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the bowl and mix until well combined.

In a non-stick skillet heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat.

Scoop a spoonful (1/4th size ish) and drop the mixture onto the skillet. I used a small skillet here and was able to fit 3.  You don’t want to overcrowd the skillet, as it will be difficult to flip the fritter.  

Flatten the zucchini mixture slightly with the back of the spatula.

Cook the fritters over medium –high heat roughly 4 minutes on each side.  The edges will become golden and crispy. After 4 minutes, flip the fitters and wait until the edges have become browned (4 minutes). You can repeat this process once more if you would like.  You may need to add more olive oil in between batches.

Place the finished fritters on the baking sheet that was covered with parchment paper. Once all the fritters have been fried and moved to the baking sheet, put pan in the oven. 

The amount you continue to bake them in the oven depends on how crispy you like them.  I left the fritters in the oven for 15 minutes. This step is also optional but I think that allowing the zucchini fritters to bake in the oven allows the them to finish setting, develop crisper edges, and release any extra moisture.

Serve warm. To reheat the zucchini fritters you can simply place them on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes.

Topping ideas:
Poached or runny egg
Yogurt or a sour cream
Sliced avocado

Broiled [juicy] Turkey Burgers

If you follow me on Instagram you are well aware that for the past 4 years I have stuck to a plant based diet. If you have read my “about me” page you also know that I have too many GI issues to count, food intolerances, and tried just about every lifestyle change to try and make my life a little bit more bearable each day. So you are probably wondering why I am posting, making, and eating turkey burgers. Let me explain.

For the last few months my symptoms were rapidly becoming worse- the migraines were back full force, the constant abdominal pain was at an all time high, the distention of the stomach made me feel and look as if I was carry a set of triplets (sorry but true!), my usual go-to plant based foods that once brought me comfort were making me sick, and I began to develop more bacterial intestinal infections. I could go on and on but I’ll save you the time and mental visions. Every food I ate caused me tremendous pain resulting in opting for more and more medication to relieve the problems.  I couldn’t seem to find the true source of the issue. I was eating very healthy- raw foods, raw desserts, smoothies, salads, natural sugars, etc. Being fed up with what was happening to my body and feeling that there would be no light at the end of the tunnel, I started to keep a food journal- not tracking the calories, but tracking the amount of fiber, fat, and sugar content that I was eating. From this I learned that I was consuming over 150 grams of sugar a day….yes you read that right.  [We are only supposed to be having a max of 30 grams of sugar.]

It turns out all those smoothies I was consuming each day (sometimes 3 or more in a day) contained over 20 grams of sugar EACH, the raw desserts made with dates / maple syrup had over 30 grams of sugar in each serving. Those salads I had? The salad dressings had more added sugar than a piece of chocolate cake. I am honestly surprised I didn’t give collapse in a sugar coma from all the “healthy” foods that I was consuming. This was a huge wake up call and I was surprised I didn’t realize this before since sugar has always been my enemy. Someone who suffers from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, sugar is the last thing I need in my body as it only causes the overgrowth to grow. I needed to clean up my diet and make major changes in order to get my health back on track.  Eliminating added sugar was the first step to heal my stomach- things like smoothies with dates, raw desserts, honey, and any added sugars had to be kicked to the curb- not forever, but eventually in moderation.

I started to incorporate lean meats (organic vegetarian fed turkey, chicken + they contain no sugar) back into my diet, pairing the meats with low sugar veggies. I immediately noticed a huge difference and was extremely surprised how well my body reacted to this immediate change. I managed to cut down the sugar content to 15-30 grams a day, which is a lot considering I would normally have 30 grams before breakfast was over.  You’re probably saying, well why did you have to eat meat? My body was also craving meat and more protein.  I knew that was a sign and I always listen to what my body needs because it was obviously sending me warning signals letting me know something was wrong. Before I switched to a plant based diet I ate meat all the time, but a few years ago it was no longer serving my body in the right way.  Now it is. As my name states, I am all about striving for balance, listening to what my body needs at certain times, and following my intuition when it comes to food choices as they are often signals of what you truly need. Hopefully you all will continue to follow me on this journey and I apologize in advance to anyone that crosses me while I am eliminating added sugars from my diet- the addiction and the struggle is real!! 

Ok, enough out of me, on to the turkey burger recipe right? This past weekend I was craving a juicy turkey burger, maybe because I was binge watching football on television or because I was preparing turkey meatballs for the week, but whatever the reason was, I often find can be just as good as a beef burger depending on how they are prepared.  Turkey burgers are a great way to switch things up and it is also much leaner than red meat, containing a lot less of the bad fat- saturated.  

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The problem that I often find with turkey burgers whether I prepare them myself or order them at a restaurant is that they can become easily dry and bland in their taste.  Who wants that?! With this recipe, I think I may have found a way to enjoy a nice juicy turkey burger full of flavor without a grill! Instead of placing the turkey burgers on the stovetop, frying them in an unnecessary amount of oil and having them crumble or stick to the pan within minutes, I decided to broil these burgers in the oven!

The patties came out nice and juicy until the last bite! They were light and didn’t have that dense / rubbery texture that can often happen if they are cooked for too long.  For these patties I stuck to the basic ingredients that most of you probably have on hand in your kitchen.  You can easily switch up the flavors catering it to what you are craving at the moment!

Ingredients:
[Makes 3; depending on size]
[Total time: 30- 40 minutes]

¾ - 1 lbs. organic white meat (93%) ground turkey*
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup or 2 tablespoons chopped yellow/sweet onion (or 3 tsp. onion powder)
½ - 1 cup chopped parsley
Sea salt + pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of kite hill ricotta dairy free cheese (optional)*

*If you want a little more fat in the burger, use a mixture of white and dark meat.
*The kite hill ricotta cheese is completely optional.  I love this brand of dairy free cheeses and found that it made the turkey burgers juicer but you could also substitute with a different cheese such as regular ricotta or Parmesan cheese. You could also use 1 egg or 1 egg white. I haven’t tested it that way, but I am sure that it would work just the same.

Feel free to adjust the ingredients as well with any of your favorite spices and herbs! Ground mustard seeds, oregano, thyme, or a little cayenne pepper would work great!

Directions:

Mix the ingredients thoroughly with hands in a large bowl.

Shape into 3 patties. It is important to shape them into the same size with the same thickness to ensure even cooking. Try to aim for a thickness of ¾ inches.

TWO options:

1.     Bake them in the oven on a baking sheet (lightly drizzled with olive oil) on 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Flip the burgers after 12 minutes.  You will be able to tell that they are done when you can start to hear them sizzle! The burgers will also puff up a little bit and when you pat them down with a spatula, be careful because you will loose a bit of the juice.

OR: (My preference = extra juicy)

2.     Place the patties on a baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil.

Move the rack either 3 or 6 inches from the broiler. Turn the broiler on high and allow it to heat for a few minutes.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and broil the burgers for 5-7 minutes on each side. The burgers should be slightly brown and a little crisper on the outer edges of the patties.

You will be able to tell that the burgers are finished (both methods) when the juices run clear and the interior of the burger is not pink in color! The internal temperature of the burger will also read 165 degrees F.

I served the turkey burgers with my homemade roasted walnut garlic pesto sauce in one of my favorite sprouted whole grain tortillas from Food For Life Baking Company. You could also use a lettuce wrap with avocados, tomatoes, sautéed onions- the options are endless!