The Hungry Swimmer: Summer Vegetable Meals

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If I’ve learned anything during quarantine, it’s how to be innovative in the kitchen, especially with frozen vegetables. Not only are frozen vegetables typically cheaper than fresh, but there is no need to worry about your produce going bad after sitting in the fridge for a few days. Safe to say, frozen vegetables were a lifesaver in college and are definitely a kitchen staple!

As we are currently living through a pandemic and experienced anxiety related to food scarcity during the early months of quarantine, adaptation is super important. Whether you were able to stock up your freezer or were left dumbfounded, not knowing how to make use of the old frozen vegetables you had on hand, cooking with frozen produce is a valuable skill.

Summer is almost over and I know everyone’s itching for a socially distanced backyard dinner party. At this point in time, I do not condone hosting backyard shindigs, but a girl can dream! Luckily enough, these meals are great to share at home with your family, a roommate, or with co-workers via zoom (virtual potluck anyone?)

If you’re looking to transform frozen vegetables into mouthwatering meals, check out my current favorite summer vegetable recipes below.

Coconut Ginger Cauliflower Fried Rice

Ingredients

*serves 3-4*

  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1 cup peas (can be frozen)
  • 1 cup broccoli (can be frozen)
  • Handful of kale (can be frozen)
  • 1 red bell pepper (can be frozen slices)
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 3 tbsp liquid aminos
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • Pinch of black pepper

This recipe is so good, you won’t believe it’s not take-out! Not only does it taste as good as the real thing, but it is chock full of vegetables, has less sodium and no oil. Plus, it’s an awesome way to use up your frozen vegetables (which are a great option if you’re looking to stretch your grocery bill and get the best bang for your buck)! Great taste and better for you? Sign me up!

To start, add the frozen cauliflower rice to a pan coated with cooking spray or a light drizzle of olive oil. As the rice begins to thaw over medium-low heat, cover the pan and assemble the rest of the vegetables. For this recipe, it may be more convenient to use all frozen produce, as it will be easier to throw everything together in a pan to steam at once. In this case, you can start to add in the peas, broccoli, kale and bell pepper. Cover and steam for about 5 minutes. Next, crack in the eggs and egg white and with a wooden spoon, combine. The idea here is to coat the vegetables and rice with the egg before the egg finishes cooking. Continue to combine until you notice the yolk and whites have cooked. Then, add in the desiccated coconut, liquid aminos, ginger and black pepper. Cover and steam for another 5-7 minutes. Scoop your finished product into a bowl, grab a spoon and dig in!

Baked Feta and Dill Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchinis
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Who says vegetables have to be boring? Well, if you personally know someone who has made this accusation, I give you full permission to clap back at them with this drool worthy recipe!

First, preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the zucchinis and on a cutting board, slice them into ½ inch thick round disks. Space them out on the parchment line baking sheet and drizzle with a light coating of olive oil. Next, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill. Then (the best part), carefully sprinkle each slice with the crumbled feta. It is important to be diligent with this step to ensure that each slice is covered with even a morsel of the cheese! Bake for 25- 30 minutes and keep an eye on them to prevent the cheese from completely burning. The zucchini should be crispy and the feta should be toasted. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes and make sure not to burn the roof of your mouth like I did! Enjoy!

Thai Stir Fry w/ Eggplant and Bok Choy

Ingredients

*serves 3-4*

  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1 zucchini
  • Handful cherry tomatoes
  • ½ eggplant
  • 1 bag Bok choy
  • Dash of liquid aminos
  • Yellow Thai Coconut Curry (I use the brand Yai’s Thai)
  • Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning (optional)

I often find that I become too comfortable in my produce choices, so I love experimenting with new vegetables. Sometimes, I feel very overwhelmed in the produce section, I won’t lie. Whenever I’m dealing with a different vegetable and I’m not totally sure on the quantity to purchase, I opt for the packaged version as a test run. I recently picked up packaged Bok choy at Whole Foods and have been really enjoying throwing some leaves into my stir fry dishes. Same goes with curry. As I really want to learn how to make my own Thai coconut curry from scratch, I am taking baby steps and picked up a yellow coconut curry from the brand Ya’is Thai. If you are unfamiliar with something and perhaps less adventurous in the kitchen, don’t be ashamed to buy the packaged version first. Rome wasn’t built in a day people!

First, you will want to steam the frozen cauliflower rice in a sprayed saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and let this cook for maybe 5-7 minutes. As the rice steams, chop the zucchini and eggplant. You will want to slice the zucchini into about 1-inch thick rounds then slice each round into four triangular cubes. Same goes for the eggplant- slice into rounds, cut each round into four and then slice these in half to create smaller pieces. Once chopped, add the zucchini and eggplant into the pan with the steamed rice and combine with a dash of coconut aminos. While this cooks, separate the Bok choy leaves and add to the pan with the tomatoes. Cover for about 10 minutes to let the Bok choy wilt and the rest of the vegetables to steam. You can either add the curry sauce to the hot pan or spoon on top of your portioned out stir fry. Top with Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning (totally optional) and enjoy!

Check out my page for more recipe inspiration and be sure to share your summer vegetable meal ideas with me @whatzoeeeats (https://www.instagram.com/whatzoeeeats/).

About Zoe Gregorace

Zoe Gregorace is currently studying Nutrition Policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and recently graduated from Tufts University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and was a proud member of the Tufts Swimming and Diving team (Go Jumbos!). During her 16 year career as a competitive swimmer, she developed a passion for sports nutrition. She enjoys writing on the topic of nutrition, health and wellness and posts her meal creations on her Instagram page @whatzoeeeats. As a former college swimmer, she strives to share recipes and nutrition tips to promote balanced eating and optimize sports performance.

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