Summer is upon us and that means it’s zucchini season! For those of you with a CSA box, get ready to have so many zucchinis each week you have no idea what to do with them. But don’t worry! Our second Nutrition DL series covers the humble zucchini and various recipes that showcase the zucchini in different ways.
Zucchini, also known as summer squash, is a gourd that grows rampantly in the summer. Zucchinis grow from inside the zucchini flower, and are sold independently of their illustrious squash blossoms. They possess a light, delicate flavor, and their skins are also perfect for eating (unlike some cucumber varieties). Their skins, like most vegetables, pack a lot of nutrients.
Low in calories, zucchini can help you get into that little swimsuit this summer. A cup of zucchini is only 20 calories raw and 29 cooked.
Vegetables nutritionally change a bit after being cooked. If you’re looking to have a higher concentration of Vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system, vision, and skin and cell health, go for cooked zucchini. If you need more Vitamin C (for immunity protection and cell health), eat the zucchini raw.
Looking to bolster your immune system? Go with zucchini. With not one, but three vitamins and minerals(manganese, vitamin A and C) that help with immune system upkeep and tissue health.
Zucchini is a low-glycemic vegetable and contains a mixture of B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, which moderate your blood sugar levels and can help protect against type 2 diabetes. Low glycemic foods do not spike your blood sugar and are helpful for those who have diabetes or need to watch their insulin levels.
Zucchini is a thin-skinned vegetable, which means it’s very susceptible to pesticides. Only buy organic or no spray, no pesticide zucchinis from your grocery store or local farmer’s market. Ensure that the skin isn’t dented or nicked. It should be firm to the touch and not soft or squishy. You can store zucchinis in the fridge and they can keep for about a week, but use them sooner rather than later.
This week’s zucchini recipe is a perfect make-ahead recipe for a busy week. This casserole allows for leftovers for the small table, and who doesn’t like healthy leftovers instead of regretful takeout after a hectic day?
I grew up with the original recipe of Zucchini Bake, which was filled with ground beef, white rice, sour cream, and a lot of cheese. N and I definitely don’t eat like this anymore, so I refreshed it to fit our lifestyle more. This version has nut meat (it sounds silly, but it tastes good) in place of the ground beef, a mixture of red and white quinoa, low-fat Greek yogurt, and less cheese. If you want to make it completely vegan, swap the Greek yogurt for dairy-free and omit the cheese or use vegan cheese like Daiya.