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Baked Zucchini Chips & Vegan Tzatziki-A Refreshing Snack

By Kelsie White

Baked Zucchini Chips & Vegan Tzatziki-A Refreshing Snack

Nutrition Bites | Week 16

Welcome to Week 16 of Nutrition Bites! This week we are going to focus on a healthy snack recipe. I love a good chips and dip, so this is a plant-based version of just that! This is a recipe for Baked Zucchini Chips & Vegan Tzatziki, and I will also be discussing what non-starchy vegetables are as well as talk about the concept of caloric density versus nutrient density. Let’s begin!

Baked Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

(Serves 4-6)

  • 4 zucchini squash, sliced in ⅛-inch rounds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Vegan Tzatziki 

  • ½ large cucumber, unpeeled, finely grated
  • 1 ½ cups plant-based plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pat zucchini slices dry with a paper towel to remove excess liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 245 degrees F.
  3. Line a large sheet pan (or 2 if needed) with parchment paper. Brush paper lightly with olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices on top of parchment in a single layer.
  4. Brush zucchini lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with cumin, salt, and chili powder.
  5. Bake in oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours until crisp and golden.
  6. Meanwhile, finely grate cucumber with the skin left on. Wrap in a paper towel and squeeze out excess liquid.
  7. Add yogurt to a large mixing bowl and add strained cucumber, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  8. Serve with zucchini chips and enjoy!
Types of Carbohydrates 

Before we talk about non-starchy vegetables, we first need to talk about the different types of carbohydrates, as this will lay the foundation for later. There are 2 main categories of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates can be categorized into 2 more categories called monosaccharides (1 sugar molecule) and disaccharides (2 sugar molecules). Examples of these include glucose (the body’s main fuel source), fructose (sugar found in fruit) and galactose. Complex carbohydrates can also be further differentiated into starch (long chains of sugar molecules found in starchy vegetables), glycogen (the form we store in our body) and fiber (the indigestible portion of plant foods). We need all of these types of carbohydrates, just in different amounts.

Non-Starchy Vegetables 

As mentioned above starchy vegetables are those vegetables that contain larger amounts of those complex carbohydrates. Food examples include potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, etc. These are a part of a well-balanced whole food plant-based diet, but we need to consume vegetables beyond these ones. Another category of vegetables is called non-starchy vegetables, and these are ones that have a much lower amount of the complex carbohydrate starch. In general, starchy vegetables contain ~15 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and non-starchy vegetables contain ~5 or less grams of carbohydrate per serving. Why does this matter? When we think about filling our plate, we want at least half of the plate to be non-starchy vegetables. This will provide us with lots of fiber and nutrients, but not too many calories. We feel full because of all the volume, but in reality, the calories we have consumed are much lower. Here is a list of some examples of non-starchy vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes

For more information on the difference between starchy and non-starchy vegetables, check out this article from Healthline.

Caloric Density versus Nutrient Density

This now brings up the topic of caloric density versus nutrient density. Foods that are calorie-dense have lots of calories per serving. The calories may come from protein, fat, or carbohydrates. An example could be a cheeseburger. Tons of calories, but not a lot of nutrients. Foods that are nutrient-dense have high levels of nutrients per serving. Nutrients refers to the number of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and/or healthy fats, proteins, and carbs. An example of this is kale a non-starchy vegetable with lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but very low in calories. Some foods can be both calorie and nutrient dense! Some example would be nuts and avocados. Lots of nutrients, but also high in calories. This doesn’t mean these foods are “bad,” it just means we need to eat them in smaller amounts. Going back to our plate model, we want to fill at least half the plate with nutrient-dense foods, and non-starchy vegetables are just that. The remaining half of the plate can be divided into starchy foods and plant protein, both which are also nutrient dense. 

Weekly Challenge

Non-starchy vegetables are an important part of a whole food, plant-based diet. They fill us up, add flavor and texture, and provide us with lots of nutrients. This week, I want to challenge you to try to incorporate 1-2 new non-starchy vegetables. Enjoy!

 

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