It's that time of year again. If you live in San Juan County you probably fall into one of two groups.
Either you have zucchini coming out your ears, or you are the victim of the doorbell ditching zucchini drop off. Either way, here are some things to think about next time you are staring at a large green squash and wondering what to do with it.
Zucchini is a green vegetable, which as a rule of thumb, means that it is healthy. But why? Zucchini is a summer squash and is 95% water, which makes it naturally low in calories and a good food choice if you are trying to lose weight. A medium zucchini, for example, contains just 33 calories. With the skin on, it also provides approximately 2 grams of fiber. Fiber is helpful when it comes to digestive health and heart health. With only 6 grams of carbohydrate, this low glycemic food will not spike your blood sugars, but will provide a steady source of glucose to your system.
Zucchini is also an excellent source of the antioxidant Vitamins A & C. It is also rich in Potassium. Potassium is one of the key electrolytes in your body. Your body needs potassium to build proteins, break down and use carbohydrates, build muscle, maintain normal body growth, control the electrical activity of the heart and to control the acid-base balance in your body.
So back to the question of, "What you are going to do with this healthy, green vegetable?" Many of us immediately start thinking of baked goods. Zucchini brownies, muffins, etc. I will admit that my mother-in-law has passed down the best ever zucchini muffin recipe, but with more sugar than flour and as many chocolate chips as a cookie, the bad may outweigh the good when it comes to the nutrition of this family favorite. While you can always increase the nutrition- al value of a family favorite by making a whole wheat variety, you may appreciate some alternative ways to use your zucchini. Here are a few serving suggestions to keep your zucchini intake healthy.
• Grill in on a kabob with some lean meats, mushrooms and onions.
• Make baked zucchini fries by coating in a little olive oil and bread crumbs and broiling in the oven.
• Add slices of zucchini to your favorite stir fry.
• Make a frittata for breakfast.
• Raw zucchini adds extra crunch to a green salad.
• Grated zucchini can be added to various tomato based, Italian sauces.
• Steamed summer squashes are delicious in a light garden alfredo dish.
• Slice it up with yellow squash and carrots for a side dish.
Here's a new recipe that I'm excited to try this summer.
1 pound sliced zucchini
1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1-1/4 pounds sliced vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a 2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray, and alternately layer sliced zucchini, corn kernels, and sliced tomatoes. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan, and sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered, in the center of oven 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cover with foil, and bake for 10 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. Serve immediately.