Health

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Remember the days of endless fried foods and trips to the county fair? Deep fried hot dogs, pickles, funnel cakes galore. Oh America… Yea those were the days. Unfortunately I ruled deep fried foods out of my diet long ago. The more I learn about cooking and recipes, and the more I try new guilt free variations, I’ve realized you can make a healthy version of almost everything. So here is my skinny oven baked zucchini and yogurt ranch dip.

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What you will need:

4 medium zucchini
about 1 cup panko bread crumbs (I used the Italian flavored panko, if you use plain be sure to season it)
2-3 tablespoons Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
1 cup non fat Greek yogurt
Teaspoon non fat milk
1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
olive oil
fresh dill

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Put the yogurt in a small bowl and mix with 2-3 tablespoons of the ranch dressing powder, fresh dill and a little bit of lemon juice. You can add a little milk or water for a thinner consistency, but you don’t need much liquid so don’t over do it. Put in fridge for at least an hour for the flavors to develop.

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Put the bread crumbs in a ziplock bag and pound a bit. The smaller the crumbs the easier they stick. Don’t make it too powdery though or it won’t get as crispy. Panko is great because it has relatively no fat and pretty low calories. (50 in 1/4 a cup)

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Wash and dry zucchini. Cut off ends and cut in half lengthwise, then cut lengthwise again. Now cut them in half. Mine were about 3 inches long. Beat egg in a shallow bowl, then beat in about 1/2 teaspoon of milk. Place breadcrumbs in another bowl and mix in the parmesan cheese (if desired).

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Now we can set everything up. Drizzle some olive oil in a baking pan and rub around with a paper towel to coat the bottom of the pan. (You don’t want puddles of oil.) Put about four sticks of zucchini in the egg bowl and mix around so they are coated with egg. Put a few spoonfuls of bread crumbs on a small plate. Pick up zucchini with a fork or tongs to drain the excess egg mixture. You don’t want to put the zucchini directly into the bowl of crumbs because it will get too clumpy eventually and then the crumbs won’t stick easily. Turn the zucchini around and pour some bread crumbs over it with the spoon. I picked it up with my thumb and forefinger touching the ends only and transferred to the baking sheet. You’ll get the hang of it after you bread a few.

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Continue until all your zucchini are breaded. You won’t use all the bread mixture so don’t worry. Bake at 425 or so for 10-15 minutes, turn pan around in the oven so they will brown evenly. You can flip them at this time if you want but I didn’t since mine were browning nicely. You can also spray lightly with cooking spray or olive oil if you have a mister), then continue baking for 10-15 minutes more, or until the zucchini are tender and golden. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and cracked pepper after removing from oven.

They were delicious! If you prefer you could use your favorite marinara sauce or salsa for a dip. I made these in the morning and wasn’t eating them until later in the day so I put them in a covered container and re-heated them later in the oven at 375. They don’t heat well in the microwave because they loose their crispness. They are perfectly crispy when heated in the oven. These are a great appetizer to take to a summer party!

As always…I hope you enjoy!

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