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Zucchini, the unsung fruitPosted Friday, July 8, 2011, at 11:29 AM
My dad warns not to leave car doors unlocked during the month of July. If you do, zucchini may appear in the backseat.
Zucchini is one of the easier fruits to grow, and many people grow it in abundance. If you notice, I called it a fruit -- which it is -- although it's cooked and treated as if a vegetable.
Zucchini -- or 'courgette' as they call it in New Zealand -- doesn't receive the credit it deserves. Having both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, zucchini is good for the heart, blood pressure, eyes, and bones. Zucchini also helps prevent bruises, relieve rheumatoid arthitis, relieve constipation, and prevent colon cancer.
For those looking to shed a few pounds -- forget the carrot sticks -- zucchini is 95% water and less than 25 calories per 4 ounces. But although low in calories, zucchini is high in nutrients. It contains minerals, including iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and potassium. Zucchini also has beta-carotene, vitamin c, lutein, antioxidants, and b vitamins. The peel is a good source of fiber along with lutein and beta-carotene which are good nutrients for eyes.
And did you know, the blossoms are an edible delicacy?
There are a multitude of ways to eat zucchini: Sauteed with vegetables, stuffed, grilled, baked in bread, sliced and raw, shredded in salads, added to stews and sauces, and as a pizza topping. Zucchini can also be froze. Frozen zucchini softens as it thaws, so it is better used for breads, stews, and sauces rather than eating raw. If sauteing, saute while still partially frozen.
Generally, zucchinis are most flavorful when small to medium in size. If they get too large, they begin to lose flavor. When picking zucchini, the flavor is best when 6-8" long and less than 2" in diameter. Once picked, zucchini can sit at room temperature for a week. They can also be stored around 50°F in a cellar for longer. Refrigeration decreases the quality.
When buying zucchini, avoid pitted skin with a spongy texture. Also, soft, wrinkled ends indicate dehydration.
Low in calories but high in fiber, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other nutrients, you might want to rethink sharing your zucchini. Pick and freeze in July to enjoy all winter long in soups, stews, and sauces.
From Worthington, Tracey is a Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband, Ed and three children, Lilly, Charlie, and Kate. For additional nutrition tips, recipes, menu ideas, articles, and more, follow her on Facebook at Tracey Linneweber, RD. The information contained in this blog is not meant to substitute for your physician's advice.
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