Learn more about this versatile summer squash!
Although we don’t usually call zucchini a squash, it’s part of the same family. These summer squashes most likely originated in Central America, and you can find them growing there year-round. People began growing them in North America and Europe during the warmer months, giving them the name “summer squash”. In Tennessee, we can have some pretty hot summer days. Fortunately, foods like zucchini and squash have such a high water content that it helps keep your body hydrated longer, making those hot summer days more bearable. The name “summer squash” really is appropriate.
Why is it beneficial?
Zucchini is a very low calorie vegetable with only 17 calories per 100 grams. Many people that are trying to lose weight often utilize this veggie. Its peel has a lot of fiber, so it’s low calorie and keeps you full. The antioxidants in zucchini, vitamins A and C, protect our bodies from damaging free radicals which can cause certain diseases. Eating zucchini and other summer squashes is often recommended to pregnant women because of their high amounts of folate. Folate is important for growth and development. It also contains the essential mineral potassium which is important for heart health. There are seemingly endless health benefits of zucchini.
When is it in season?
Since it is a summer squash, local Tennessee zucchini can be found whenever the weather stays warm both during the day and night. This is usually from June until October
How long will it keep?
If you buy the freshest zucchini, they will have a smooth, shiny skin and will feel pretty firm. Avoid floppy or wrinkled zucchini. You can store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Larger and wider zucchini will usually have more seeds in the middle.
How do I prepare zucchini?
Make sure you wash the zucchini before preparing to rid of any dirt or debris. If your zucchini is not organic, consider soaking it in a vegetable wash (store-bought or homemade). Here’s a few different ways to eat it:
- Slice the zucchini into rounds, cover in olive oil, and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes. (It will be more or less depending on the size of your slices.) Season with spices of your choice.
- Make zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. Be sure to press out some of the moisture in the zoodles with a paper towel. Sauté them in a pan until soft and top with anything you normally put on pasta. (Pro tip: these do cook down, so a good rule is one small zucchini per person)
- You can even bake with zucchini. Grate it and add it to batter to make zucchini bread. Add chocolate chips for a healthy dessert. This is a good way to get an extra dose of vegetables! I like this recipe. It can be easily adjusted for any dietary restrictions.
Zucchini just might be one of the most versatile vegetables in existence. It has the perfect balance of fresh and savory, which complements any meal.
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