Zucchini noodles. It sounds funny to say it, but 2020 has made me a fan of zucchini noodles. 2020 has been one of those years. Firstly, the awful summer bushfire season. Then, just as we were settling back into ‘life as normal’, COVID19 crashed the scene and upended the world. Those news images of grocery store drama and the subsequent empty shelves were hard to believe. When I finally ventured into the grocery shop, the shelves were bare of more than just toilet paper. My little gluten-free family was short on pasta, bread, granola and more. Seems not even gluten-free items were safe from the hoarding mentality of some folk. So that’s when zucchini noodles came into my life.
So, what do they say about ‘necessity being the mother of invention’? Well, I’m saying it wasn’t quite an invention, more a re-imaging of our meals. COVID19 shortages and breaks in the supply chain gave me reason to pause and rethink our meals. Having no gluten-free pasta was the push I needed. I had already tested the waters with the kids on broccoli rice and they seem to semi-accept this as an alternative, so what else could I repurpose to cover my missing staples. Zucchini noodles, enter stage left.
You say Noodles, I say Zoodles
A quick google search showed me how to make zucchini noodles, or zoodles to those in the know. BOOM, my bolognese sauce now sits atop a green curly web of zoodles. I bought a hand-powered spiral thingy machine from my local store, all of $12, and now I am spiralling zucchinis and carrots like crazy. No pasta shortage at our home, now we have become a zoodle family. Plus, my coleslaw is looking like it’s had a perm with my curly carrot spirals.
Cauliflower Rice is a Thing
I then moved onto cauliflower, the veg we so love with white sauce. But do you know what cauliflower can also be, rice, yes cauliflower rice is a thing. A very yummy thing. So now my stroganoff sits alongside cauli-rice. I may never go back, as I find the cauli-rice such a simple and quick alternative to regular rice. Bonus points for less carbs too. It’s as simple as finding a frying pan, heating up some olive or coconut oil, finely cutting up cauliflower florets and then adding them to the pan and kind of ‘stir-frying them for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over some salt and then I pop a lid on the pan and steam until soft. It’s a five to seven minute process. No more sticky rice for me. I am on the cusp of trying cauli-rice in sushi. I have read that if I add some apple cider vinegar and mayo to the cauli-rice I will have a very good substitute for sushi rice. Leave this one with me.
When is Bread not Bread, when it’s a Wrap!
Bread had me stuck for a while, wraps in particular. Then, I found a recipe for homemade wraps based on tapioca flour and mozzarella cheese of all things. So, no speciality gluten-free flours at all. Apparently this is a Brazillian tradition, and those Braszillians know a few things about eating well. These soft tortilla style wraps were well received. Check out the full recipe and instructions at popular website: https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/soft-tapioca-gluten-free-wraps/
Granola … the Last Frontier
My final step into substitution world was missing our store bought made granola. Such a quick and easy breakfast & snack for me and the kids. I always had at least two varieties on hand, until COVID19 interrupted the supply chain. So I grabbed the food processor out and whizzed up my own. My first batch was the more traditional variety. Well received, and much yummier than expected.
Then I stepped up my game and made, what we now call, nutty nummy granola. Nummy, because it’s so darn yummy, we couldn’t just call it nutty as it’s much more than just nuts. The kids are in the swing of this now, and I think actually prefer it. There is something simply satisfying to sit down to your own homemade granola for a late breakfast on Sunday morn.
Mel’s Nutty Nummy Granola – Recipe
Pop into a food processor the below:
3 cups unsweetened coconut (any style you prefer, we used flakes)
2 cups macadamias
1 cup pecans or hazelnuts
½ cup buckwheat groats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
Process the dry ingredients until your preferred texture (we like ours fine). Add wet ingredients and process until blended. Spread out onto a lined baking tray and bake @ 160 degrees (fan forced) until medium brown all over. Use a fork to turn it over a few times during baking. Ours takes around 20-25 minutes but every oven is different so don’t leave the kitchen!!! Remove to cool (it will go crunchy once cold). Store in a sealed container. I love it with vanilla bean yoghurt and homemade poached apple & rhubarb. My girls love it with their home made smoothie bowls.
The other switch I made during this period was to move more of my shopping online. It did seem that the online suppliers either held more stock, or didn’t attract the kind of frenzied ‘buy up’ I saw in the retail shops. Plus the added bonus of ‘staying home to stay safe’ was top of mind.
So there you have it. Now the shelves are full again and peace is semi-restored, but I have kept zoodles on the menu, along with cauliflower rice. I must admit I have gone back to my store bought gluten-free bread, as I’m still looking for a perfect substitute for that. But it’s more a time thing really. My nutty nummy granola is staying too. That has a big thumbs up from the whole family. So I think this is my little COVID19 silver lining. In amongst all the angst and upheaval, I found the time to perfect my nutty nummy granola and now we have a new Sunday brunch ritual.
Happy baking, Mel