Zucchini tastes great grilled, baked, sautéed and eaten raw, plus it’s loaded with of health and nutrition benefits. If you’re looking for ways to cook zucchini, try one of these delicious recipes.
It’s zucchini season! That makes it a perfect time to shine some light on this super-star vegetable. Zucchini has been around for a long time, and it’s packed full of nutrients to support your health. Plus, it’s delicious. I’m sharing some easy ways to incorporate zucchini into your meal plan, including some of my favorite, simple recipes,
The History Of Zucchini
Zucchini, and all other squash, originated in Northern and Central America thousands of years ago. Researchers found a squash seed, in a Mexican cave, that dated back 10,000 years. The Native Americans feasted on squash during Thanksgiving, and the early explorers brought it back to Europe during the 1500s. There, it was referred to as zucchini, and it gained big time popularity. European immigrants then brought zucchini back to the Americas in the 1920s where it regained popularity. The rest is history!
The zucchini, which is actually a fruit, belongs in the same family as winter squash and cucumbers. The plant grow best in the summer and is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. So easy, that growers often end up with more than they know what to do with! That’s good news for me – since I end up being gifted lots of zucchini from friends that grow it.
The Health And Nutritional Benefits Of Zucchini
A 1998 study looked at the pigments of various fruits and vegetables, and found that zucchini had high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. If you’re not familiar, both of those pigments play major roles in eye health. A different done, published in 1991, concluded that zucchini also contains high levels of ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C – that powerful antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables.
Each year, during zucchini season, I see people post their photos of huge their huge zucchini. Their high level of ascorbic acid likely plays a role in their rapid grow. Ascorbic acid oxidase allows for cell wall expansion, and thus, very large zucchinis that grow within days. If you’re lucky enough to grow, or be given, large zucchini, don’t through them away. There are endless ways to use the vegetable. I’m sharing some delicious recipes and ways to cook zucchini at the end of this post.
Not only are zucchini’s rich in Vitamin C, they also contain many other beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. According to the USDA’s Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 1 medium zucchini contains 33 calories, 2 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of fat
It’s also a rich source of many different vitamin and minerals. One medium zucchini provides 512 mg of potassium (11% DV), 35 mg of Vitamin C (39%), 392 IU of vitamin A (44%), 47 micrograms of folate (12% DV) and over 4 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin. A recommended daily value has not been set for lutein or zeaxanthin, but research has suggested a target daily intake of 6 mg/day to reduce the risk of developing age related macular degeneration. If you’re trying to reach that target, incorporating zucchini into your diet is a great way to do it!
How To Select And Store Zucchini
According to the produce for better health foundation, when shopping, look for zucchini that has shiny, slightly prickly skin and is firm and free from bruising. When you get it home, don’t wash it right away – wait until you are ready to eat or cook it. Store it in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator, but use it within 4-5 days. Cooked zucchini should be eaten within 2 days.
Ways To Eat Zucchini
If your impression of zucchini is an overcooked, mushy veggie, or the fried appetizer found on many restaurant menus, this post will hopefully change your mind. There are many delicious ways to prepare it so that you can get all of the good nutrition it has to offer.
Slice It Into Zucchini Fries
Raw zucchini is a bit bland, but it’s still good, especially when eaten with hummus or other vegetable dips. Slice it into strips and include it on a tray with other vegetables.
Add Zucchini To Eggs or An Omelet
Sautéed zucchini also tastes great mixed into eggs or with combined with other vegetables and added to an omelet. It’s a great way to boost your vegetable intake starting first thing in the morning.
Spiralize Zucchini Into Zoodles
Spiralized zucchini, also known as zoodles, make a great noodle substitute, especially those trying to cut back on carbs. The easiest way to do this is by using a spiralizer. But, if you don’t have one, you can also use a peeler. The zoodles will be thicker, but they will still taste good. You can also shred the zucchini with a grater.
Add It To Salads And Sandwiches
Zucchini makes a great addition to a sandwich and can also be added to raw salads.
Sauté It As A Side Dish
Zucchini makes a great side dish, too. Just sauté it on the stove top with olive oil, and it’s ready to eat. You can also add garlic, Parmesan cheese or other flavoring to jazz it up.
Grilling zucchini is one of my favorite ways to prepare and eat it. It you like seeing the grill marks on your zucchini, place it directly on the grill to cook. Or, you can add some olive oil to it and cook it in foil, on the grill. Both ways are delicious.
Make Baked, Breaded Zucchini
Fried zucchini is a popular appetizer at restaurants, but you can make a healthier version at home, that’s just as delicious. This baked, breaded zucchini recipe.
Bake A Crustless Zucchini Pie To Eat For Breakfast or Dinner
One of my favorite ways to eat zucchini is cooked into this crustless zucchini and tomato pie. I made this last summer with zucchini that was grown fresh in my friends garden. I put the recipe on my blog and it’s been a big hit ever since.
Cook Zucchini Pizza Boats
Zucchini makes a perfect base for making healthier pizza, and can be topped with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings for a quick meal. It’s a great option for anyone that loves pizza, but is trying to cut back on carbohydrates. It also makes a great after-school snack for kids, and is a great way to increase the vegetable content of your diet. Next time pizza is on the menu, give these zucchini pizza boats a try. You can watch our video on how to make zucchini pizza boats here.
Do you have another great way to eat or cook zucchini? Share it in the comments below.