GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

I’m always on a quest to find healthy, nutritious and tasty dishes with locally sourced food, and lately I’ve had to tick even a few more boxes by trying to work ‘gluten free’ in there and ‘high in calcium’. And, as we have a lot of beautifully fresh corn and zucchini around at the moment it was time to do some experimenting in the kitchen.

After the recent rain my trombone zucchini had also decided to crop again and I had heaps of delicious ‘trombones’ just waiting to be picked.  If you haven’t tried growing this, you should – it is incredibly prolific; survives the summer rain and heat AND tastes fabulous – nutty and dense.  Pick them when they are about 30cm long. So this dish ticks another of my boxes COOKING WITH ABUNDANCE.  Of course, if you don’t have an orchestra growing in your garden you can use any zucchini.  

The trombone zucchini ‘tromboncino’

Click here to find out how to grow this fantastic vegetable – it’s fun too (take a look at how quickly it growsyou’ll get my drift!)

I help out with the local ‘Stepping On’ class – a fantastic free programme run by NSW Department of Health, that is, essentially, a ‘fall prevention’ class – it’s for those folk who have had a fall or are at risk of falling.  One of our sessions is all about diet, healthy eating and the necessity of calcium for strong bones and I had promised to cook for them a couple of ‘calcium rich’ dishes.
Getting enough calcium in our diet is important for all of us – particularly growing children, pregnant women and active adults.  This is also a great dish for those on meat/fish free diets where lack of calcium can be a problem. In addition to building strong bones and teeth and keeping them healthy, calcium helps our blood to clot, send messages to nerves and helps muscles contract.
I’m sometimes highly challenged to find something that all eight of my grandchildren can/will eat – I’m sure you know what I mean??  Try this?  It’s vegetarian, gluten free, cheesy and delicious hot or cold.

Recipe Corn and Zucchini Bake

1 cup cooked corn kernels (1 cob)
2 large zucchini, grated ( you don’t have to peel the trombone)
1 cup grated strong cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan + 1 tablespoon
100g feta, crumbled
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 rice flour (I use brown)
1/2 cup fine polenta
1tsp baking powder
3/4 cup parsley, dill and chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tomatoes, finely sliced for decoration

NOTE:  I experimented with various flours and took advice from gluten-free experts to come up with this combination.  I discovered that too much of one or the other was unsuccessful in both taste and texture – see what you think – I think this works fine?

1.  Heat oven to 180-200oC
2.  Grease oblong baking dish
3.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours and baking powder together
4.  Add everything else and stir to combine reserving 1 tablespoon of parmesan to sprinkle on top.
5.  Spread evenly in your dish and decorate with sliced tomatoes and parmesan.
6.  Bake in oven for about 40 minutes until firm and golden.

So Where’s the Calcium?
  • All fresh herbs are highly nutritious and parsley particularly so –  a handful of fresh herbs added to your meal is going to make it worth eating!
  • Half a cup of parsley contains 54% of your daily vitamin C requirements, 14.5% of vitamin A, 11% of folate and iron, and roughly 5% each of copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, fibre, and 3% of zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B3, B1 and manganese – wow – and it’s only 11 calories!!
  • 1 cup of parmesan, cheddar cheese and feta each contain, roughly, 35% of your daily calcium needs.
  • 1 cup of milk contains about 25% of your daily calcium needs and each egg 3%
  • Leafy green vegetables are also rich in calcium – e.g. watercress, rocket, Asian greens, kale and broccoli.  Also on the list are fish with bones e.g. whitebait, sardines, anchovies and canned salmon.
Time for lunch – guess what I’m having?

For another zucchini recipe, try these scrummy  Zucchini and Haloumi fritters with a yoghurt, lemon, garlic dipping sauce.

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