This long sweet summer squash varietal is a cousin to cucumbers and melons in the Cucurbitaceae family. While each variety may have a distinct shape, color (both yellow and green), size and flavor, all varieties share some common characteristics. Regardless of variety, all parts of summer squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds and skin, making preparation quick and easy! Select smaller squash for a sweeter flavor profile and quicker cook time, larger squash may be woody if left too long on the vine. Select firm squash with bright color and store in cool dark air-tight place for up to 10 days. Summer squash also produce edible flowers which can be delicately stuffed and cooked.
TIPS ON HOW TO PREPARE:
There is something synergistic going on here….research supports that zucchini have the ability to retain their antioxidant capacity with a variety of cooking techniques Raw, frozen, roasted, sautéed, all have a strong presence of health providing nutrients when eaten in its whole food form (skin and seeds).
ROASTED SUMMER VEGGIES RECIPE
- 2 zucchini, cut in 1-2” chunks
- 1 yellow summer squash, cut in 1-2” chunks
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole
- 1 red onion, quartered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- sprinkle sea salt
Toss vegetables in oil and mix in herbs. Lay on cookie sheet sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned and softened.
USES FOR ZUCCHINI
RAW ZUCCHINI “PASTA”
Use a spiralizer to cut up full zucchinis, toss with fresh tomatoes and herbs.
Cut zucchini length wise to create a “boat” and fill with protein salad of choice (curry chicken salad, avocado tuna salad, etc.)
Slice into thin coins, rub with fat and herbs/spices of your choice spread on cookie sheet and roast at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.
Slice into thin coins (yep…that’s it) dip into favorite dip such as hummus, greek yogurt “ranch”, goat cheese spread.
Combine 2c almond flour, ¼ t sea salt, ½ t baking soda, 2 eggs, 2T coconut oil, 1/4 c raw honey, 3/4 c zucchini. Mix, put in greased pan, bake at 350F 35-40 mins.
NUTRITIONAL COMPONENTS OF ZUCCHINI
Zucchini are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoid phytonutrients), B vitamins, and a combination of antioxidant nutrients. Some antioxidants deserving of special attention include carotenoids (found in vitamin A concentration) lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are especially helpful in antioxidant protection of the eye, including protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The maganese, zinc, and B vitamins found abundantly in zucchini serve in blood sugar metabolism support for our system. What’s more, the pectin form of soluble fiber found in zucchini, D-galacturonic acid, helps keep insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels in balance, and protecting against the onset of type 2 diabetes. This slow moving fiber acts as a gel to decrease the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar, aiding to curb blood sugar spikes. The combination of the antioxidants and this “oopy-goopy” mucilaginous fiber act to cool and soothe the body decreasing inflammation, particularly in gastrointestinal disorders including ulcerative colitis, gastritis, and leaky gut. Beyond inflammation, seeds of summer squash and oils extracted from its seeds have been used in traditional medicine for their anti-microbial and anti-parasitic properties.
THIN EDIBLE SKINS… PRIORITIZE ORGANIC!
Although these vegetables did not make the cut for the “Dirty Dozen” the EWG found concentrations of insecticides concerning especially their thin edible skin. I would strongly recommend focusing on sustainably grown or organically grown for the benefits of additional antioxidants and phytonutrients with less risk for toxicity!