I don’t have to tell you if you live here in Oklahoma, we have officially entered the “dog days” of summer. It’s hot! But, it’s also time for some glorious produce to be collected from my vegetable garden! (Never mind the weeds, we have come to an acceptable level of coexistence). As a novice gardener, I made the usual novice mistake- too many squash plants. Oh Lord, I have summer squash and zucchini squash in plenty!
So, I’ve taken the opportunity to share a childhood joy with my kids-Fried Zucchini! As a kid, after a day at the beach, there was nothing better than to stop by A’s Burgers and grab some fried zucchini.
But, there was always a little element of guilt along with the joy of these steaming, crispy, glorious sticks of heaven, because fat makes you fat, right? Don’t eat anything with fat. These were the mantras of my youth, when the low-fat, high-carb diet craze began. Most women I know still have an inordinate fear of ingesting any fat. But what I’ve since learned, is that it’s not the fat you have to fear, but the type of fat.
Now, even as a kid, I heard the story of how you could actually hydrogenate an oil long enough for it to become as dense as a brick. I had no scientific research to back this up at the time, but the thought was creepy enough to keep me clear of margarine.
What I didn’t know then, is that almost all vegetable oils are processed in extremely high heat and use chemical solvents such as hexane. This processing distorts the fatty acids in the (corn, canola, safflower, etc)vegetable oil, creating trans fats. Our enzymes pick up these trans fats and can’t let them go, which affects cellular function so profoundly it can kill your cells. These nasty little distorted molecules are very inflammatory in your body, damaging cell membranes, harming your heart, liver, and kidneys, and accelerate aging, by creating a free radical cascade, causing harm exponentially in your body.
So, check your labels for anything that says, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or any of the following listed vegetable oils. What was once healthy in it’s raw, natural state, isn’t healthy in a bottle or packaged food anymore. The very act of refining it destroys anything healthy about it, and more disturbing, converts it into something that is toxic to us.
So, steer clear of:
Corn, canola, soy, sunflower, safflower, peanut and grapeseed oils.
I think once you start looking at labels, you will be shocked at just how many of our packaged foods have vegetable oils, especially corn oil. Crackers, bread, cereal, chips, cakes, chicken nuggets, and so many more baked or fried foods.
But, since our brains are made up of of 60% fat, 25% of it being cholesterol, please, please eat some fat!
Just be sure to use extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, or real, natural butter. (Just beware that the “soft” butter in the tub, still has added canola oil most of the time).
….A word about cooking with different oils; the temperature point at which oils become molecularly damaged is different for each oil, and exceeding the burning point can turn healthy oils into trans fats.
Save the high heat for coconut oil
Saute with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or butter.
You can bake with coconut oil also, but if your oven temp is above 350*, don’t use flaxseed or other milled seeds.
However, flaxseed , extra virgin olive, or other nut oils like walnut or macadamia, are great for homemade salad dressings. And if you like a little more zest on your salad greens than olive oil and vinegar give you, blend an avocado with a little olive oil, lemon juice and spices for a tasty dressing. Aside from water and vinegar, almost all store-bought dressings are vegetable oil, sugar and flavorings, even the ones that have “olive oil” in the name!
If you’re like me, you’re going to go do some research on this, and hopefully I have helped steer you in the right direction.
So, to make my beloved fried zucchini, and keep it healthy, I dusted my sliced zucchini with some gluten-free corn meal, pepper and himalayan salt, and coated my pan with coconut oil. Then, after browning both sides, I put a lid on the fry pan for just a few minutes to make certain the slices were heated through. This step may not be necessary if you slice really thin. They are best served right away (this often means the kids grabbing it off the plate, right out of the pan, burning their mouths, but that’s another story!) And while they may not be quite like I remember the ones from A’s, I think that has more to do with the fact that I’m not eating them after a glorious, carefree day on the beach, as much as anything…
3 John 1:2
“Deep Nutrition, Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food” Catherine Shanahan, MD
“Thrive foods” Brendan Brazier