October 15, 2012

Zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant

No, it isn’t a funny looking cucumber. It’s zucchini. Zucchini is a simple food that takes on flavor well, and can be a surprising substitute in meals to add variety and nutritional value. Let’s explore this vegetable.

So what’s so good about zucchini?

Zucchini is good for hydration, with its 81% water content. Zucchini is also low in calories, and high in fiber. Zucchini contains vitamins A, C, K, and B vitamins, as well as magnesium, manganese, and copper. The carotenes in zucchini help protect against the sun and are antioxidants. Once again, we have a wonderful, cancer fighting food!

What is zucchini, and where did it come from?

Zucchini, known as courgette to the French and British, is a versatile summer squash from the Cucurbita family. This is the gourd or melon family, and includes different types of squash and melons. Zucchini is a summer squash, and as is true with other summer squash, zucchini has a high water content. Zucchini has a green or yellow skin that is thin. The skin may be speckled with whitish colored spots. Zucchini is a long and thin vegetable, with a shape similar to a cucumber. The zucchini, when cut, has a cream colored flesh with seeds running the length of the plant in a conical fashion.

Zucchini originated in Italy and has become popular throughout the world. It is not uncommon for the flower of the zucchini plant to be used in Italian cooking. Zucchini can be picked in the summer, but continues to grow into the early fall. With the variety of methods for preparation, zucchini can be a great add-on to many dishes.

How do you select and store zucchini?

Choose a firm squash with minimal blemishes. The skin should be shiny, and the zucchini should feel heavy for its size. Avoid zucchini with hard skin and an excessive amount of blemishes. For the best flavor, opt for small to medium sized zucchini, as opposed to large. Zucchini can be refrigerated for storage and will remain fresh for up to 7 days. Be careful, as they bruise and are scratched easily, and this will speed up decay. When you are ready to use the zucchini, wash it thoroughly with a vinegar and water mix or with a fruit and vegetable wash to remove dirt and other substances. Cut off the top and base. The skin, flesh, and small seeds inside are all edible. You can freeze zucchini, but blanch it first (boil for approx. 2-3 minutes than place in icy water to cool). Prepare as desired.

What can you do with zucchini?

Here are some ideas for using zucchini:

1) Sautee Zucchini alone or with other vegetables

2) Make ratatouille

3) Make veggie chips

4) Add zucchini to soups and stews

5) Make zucchini bread

6) Make zucchini pie

7) Make stuffed zucchini

8) Make a grilled zucchini sandwich, or grill with other vegetables

9) Slice zucchini and eat it raw with a yogurt dip

10) Add raw zucchini to a salad

How do you prepare zucchini? Let us know, and leave a comment below if you liked this article.

~ Cece


Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable on the Market by Aliza Green

Total Nutrition: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need Edited by Victor Herbert, M.D., F.A.C.P. and Genell J. Subak-Sharpe, M.S.

The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno N.D. with Lara Pizzorno M.A., L.M.T.

2 commnets on “Zucchini!

  1. Zucchini is my favorite! Sautéed with peppers and onions, yum! Who says healthy food is boring?

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