Poor Man’s “Crab Cakes” – Gluten Free Zucchini Cakes (Vegan option, too!)

fullsizeoutput_2fc.jpegI loved making these in college. I was too broke for crab meat, but my mom would send me back to school with giant zucchinis and told me to get creative. Looking back at that, having my budget limiting me to mashed potatoes, couscous and macaroni and cheese may not have been so bad. I had to get really creative to eat healthy, and it’s pretty hard to do that when you have Whole Foods taste on a budget provided to me by my mom’s small installments of Giant store gift-cards… she didn’t trust me with cash for fear of it going straight to the bar. This was not an unrealistic concern.

That being said, I was left to my own devices with a giant zucchini, and my roommate’s generous collection of Italian staples; breadcrumbs, eggs, butter. I would do a quick mental checklist of how many beers I could still get at the bar if I splurged on the fancy Dijon mustard and mayo, based on my weekly allowance of money. I was still in the clear – operation dinner was a “go”. I took the best crab cake recipe I know (which I will reveal at a later time J) and changed it up to sub zucchini (!!!) out for crab. The good thing about these is they’re quite forgiving for any modifications you want to do, including vegan alternatives.

While I didn’t (nor could I) cook as much in college as I do now, I always loved having everyone over to eat. Back to the times where I would only splurge on avocados to make guacamole, I’d make sure I told all my friends to come over and eat with us. Good food or bad, hungry college kids were always grateful to enjoy some homemade dinner to make chugging their Natty Lights a little less of a bummer.

What this recipe really reminds me of is to just appreciate what it is you already have, even if you want more. I’m currently reading a book about Manifestation and the principles behind it. They seem counterintuitive, but it truly makes sense with consideration to the laws of attraction. Positivity begets more positivity – abundance, love, happiness, all of these things will continue to flow if you just start your thoughts around them. The idea of being grateful for what you have and feeling like it’s everything you ever wanted won’t necessarily limit you to just that, but there’s two outcomes, both of which are a win/win. Either you learn to appreciate what you have already and are able to live with content, or your positivity and forward thinking mindset will allow you the means to achieve what you want. Your thoughts are half the battle!

While I’m able to make real crab cakes these days, I almost see these little zucchini substitutes as a luxury, instead of the reverse. They’re fresh, tasty, and it feels good to use ingredients from your garden out back. Try them out and see for yourself!


Zucchini Crab Cakes

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 5-6


  • 2 cups peeled and shredded zucchini
  • 1 large egg (vegan alternative can be used such as Ener-G egg replacer, 1 1/2 tsp with 2 tsp water mixed prior in separate bowl)
  • 1/2 cup Coconaise (Vegenaise mayo can be used)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (or panko if gluten free is not necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon fines herbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel the zucchini. Depending on the size, you may need to slice in half and remove middle seeds and pulp with a spoon. With a hand-grater or food processor using the grating blade, grate the zucchini into shreds.
  3. Drain the zucchini thoroughly, squeezing out as much moisture as possible, using a cheesecloth. If you’re able to drain the zucchini and let sit/air out ahead of time, this is also an option. Once drained, set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add in the mayo until combined.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the fines herbs, garlic powder and Old Bay. Next, add the dijon and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until mixed. Next, stir in the zucchini.
  6. Once mixed, form mixture into 5-6 cakes. Depending on the size, sometimes I can get 7 or 8 out of this mixture.
  7. Add parchment paper to a cookie sheet (cooking spray works, too), and place cakes on the cookie sheet, about 2-3 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. You can serve with cocktail sauce, or make a tartar sauce out of extra Coconaise and relish mixture.

Note: smaller portions can be made for hors d’oeuvres or snacks! They freeze well once cooked and can be reheated.



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