Zucchini is one of the varieties of summer squash. It has a light green to dark green molded skin and a delicate flavor, creamy white flesh and soft shell, which is a perfect addition to any summer meal.
The summer squash has its ancestry in the Americas, but this particular variety which is called zucchini was developed in Northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century.
In the culinary world, zucchini is treated as a vegetable. Botanically speaking, they are fruits, a type of botanical berry called a “pepo.” They are the swollen ovaries of the zucchini flowers.
One and a half cup of raw zucchini contains
Summer squash is a rich source of alpha carotene and beta carotene and other health-promoting carotenoids such as the lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Zucchini is low in calories, but it increases your satiety value. It has a high water content and is rich in fiber. So zucchini recipes are perfect when you’re on a diet.
High source of antioxidants and vitamin C
Seeds of squash vegetables hold many types of phytonutrients that may help fight inflammation and oxidative stress. One zucchini has over 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C helps lower blood pressure, maintains the lining of your blood cells and protects against inflammation and clogged arteries.
High source of potassium
Zucchini is high in heart-healthy mineral potassium. You can get 15 percent more of your RDA from one cup of cooked zucchini. Research studies point out that low potassium levels is tied with other mineral imbalances and may increase the risk of heart disease. Potassium naturally lowers your blood pressure. Increased potassium intake also reduces your stroke risk.
Provides overall cardiovascular protection
Zucchini has abundant manganese and vitamin C which keeps your heart healthy. Research studies show us that these nutrients are useful in preventing diabetic heart disease and atherosclerosis. The vitamin C and beta-carotene present in zucchini prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol can lead to heart disease.
Research studies say that zucchini offers anti-inflammatory protection within the GI tract that can reduce ulcer-related symptoms, IBS, and leaky gut syndrome.
If you eat lots of anti-inflammatory foods such as the non-starchy fresh vegetables, it is the first step towards reducing the body-wide inflammation and gut related issues.
To obtain the biggest digestive boost eat zucchini along with seeds and skin. You may even add it to green smoothies.
Enhances eye health
Zucchini has a healthy dose of phytonutrients such as the vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin and lutein that protects your eye health.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoid antioxidants that protect your eyes against macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. These vitamins protect the macula, retina, and cornea from UV light damage and oxidative stress that can lead to loss of vision.
Great source of B vitamins
Zucchini is an excellent source of B vitamins including folate, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. Adequate B vitamins enhance your cognitive health, prevents fatigue and maintains an upbeat mood.
Zucchini is beneficial for women planning for a baby because folate allows your body to synthesize new DNA and conceive properly.
Research studies say that fiber-rich foods help to alleviate cancer by washing away cancer-causing toxins from the cells in the colon. The vitamin C, folate, and beta-carotene contribute to protecting the colon cells from harmful chemicals that lead to colon cancer.
B-carotene and vitamin C have anti-inflammatory properties and naturally reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. The copper present in zucchini helps to reduce the aching symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Helps control diabetes
Zucchini can play a role in diabetes prevention because it is low in carbs and sugar. The polysaccharide fibers pectin found in zucchini have unique benefits for blood sugar regulation. They contain chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. These nutrients keep insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels in the balance and protect against the onset of type 2 diabetes.
An essential step in food support for all diabetes problems is the optimal intake of fiber. Zucchini has 2.5 grams of fiber per cup. Research studies show that a high dietary fiber intake of more than 30 grams per day can be a straightforward and efficient preventive approach.
The body needs B complex vitamins for the metabolism of sugar. Zucchini contains folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline. Zinc, magnesium, and omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for blood sugar metabolism. All of these nutrients are present in summer squash.
Other zucchini benefits include
Garlic and Chili Zucchini Pasta
- 2 Medium zucchinis
- Two garlic cloves finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped
- Two tsp olive oilJuice from ½ a lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- One pinch red chili flakes optional.
- 10 shrimps
- Four pieces of ham/chicken rolls finely sliced
- A handful of cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese
- To make zucchini noodles use a vegetable spiral slicer.
- Gently press and twist the zucchini like a pencil sharpener.
- Heat one tsp of olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and cook for one minute until slightly brown and fragrant.
- Add in the shrimps and red chili flakes.
- Allow the prawns to cook for 2 minutes.
- Flip the prawns and add juice from half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Once the shrimps are cooked, mix the basil leaves and set it aside.
- In the same pan add the remaining one tsp of olive oil and zucchini noodles.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes until the zucchini noodles are soft but do not overcook.
- Remove from heat and add the shrimps and chicken rolls.
- Top your pasta with parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes and serve.
Tip: For vegans, you can serve without shrimps, chicken rolls, and cheese. It still tastes good.
Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Yakitori
Mirin sake, low sodium soy sauce, honey, garlic, boneless chicken, green onions, and zucchini are all the ingredients you need for this recipe.
In a medium sized sauce pan add mirin, soy sauce, crushed garlic and honey and to a boil. Set aside to cool.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces place it into Ziploc cover and pour half of the marinade over the chicken.
Place the zucchini in another Ziploc cover and pour the remaining marinade over the zucchini. Keep in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
You can prepare the skewers by soaking them in water for 30 minutes. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers alternating with slices of green onion. Repeat the same process for zucchinis as well.
Prepare the grill over medium high heat. When hot, spray the oil and reduce the heat to medium. Grill the zucchinis and chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side.
Brush the zucchini and the chicken with yakitori sauce during the last few minutes of the cooking time.
Tip: You can even add mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, green beans and bell peppers to enhance the flavor. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or broil it.
Asparagus and Zucchini Pizza
- Asparagus spears -8 nos
- Thinly sliced zucchini 1 cup
- Prebaked pizza crust
- Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- One tablespoon olive oil
- Two tablespoons fresh thyme leaves.
- Two tablespoons shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
- Cut the ends of asparagus spears. Slice the spears diagonally and crosswise into ½ inch pieces.Place a prebaked pizza on a shallow baking pan.
- Top it with thinly sliced zucchini.Sprinkle with asparagus pieces. Drizzle some olive oil over it.
- Bake it for 10-12 minutes. Top it with fresh lemon juice, thyme leaves, and shaved parmesan cheese. Neatly cut into eight slices and serve.
Tip: The parmesan shavings add just enough salt without adding the fat. You can use Fabulous Flats for the crust and bake it in a 500-degree oven on the bottom rack to make it crispy.
Healthy Sautee is the best way of cooking summer squash. The three guidelines in food science research associated with healthy cooking are
Healthy sauté of zucchini
Ingredients for Mediterranean dressing
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- Two tsp fresh lemon juice
- Three tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Sunflower seeds and parmesan cheese optional.
- Heat 3 tbs of chicken or vegetable broth in a stainless steel skillet. When it begins to boil, add sliced zucchini, and sauté for 1-1/2 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the contents to a bowl and toss with Mediterranean dressing.
When you’re shopping for zucchini, choose the ones that are heavy for their size. The zucchini must have shiny and unblemished rinds. Your best choice will be zucchini that is of average size. Large ones tend to be more fibrous and smaller ones may be inferior in flavor.
If possible, you may opt for certified organic zucchini. Since zucchini is very fragile, you may store it unwashed in airtight contains in your fridge. If you have large amounts of summer squash, you can very well freeze them. Research studies point out that frozen zucchini has excellent antioxidant retention. You can steam the zucchini for 3 minutes, cool it, place it in freezer bags and then freeze it.
Please try out these zucchini recipes and let us know how they turned out in the comments section.