My goal with Live Simply Natural is that it be a resource to help you feel empowered when making food choices, so I’m breaking down everything you need to know with some of the most common whole food ingredients. Today I’m sharing one of my summer favorites – ZUCCHINI!
Produce Guide: Zucchini
Zucchini is known as a summer squash variety. There are two main categories of squash: summer squash and winter squash. Harvested when immature, summer squash are characterized by thin, edible skins, soft seeds and a mild flavor. Their tender flesh has a high water content and cooks quickly. As their name suggests they are in peak season during summer months. The most popular variety of summer squash is zucchini and is one of our favorite to use in our summer dishes. This versatile vegetable can be grilled, steamed, stir-fried, stuffed and baked to use in appetizers, salads, stir-fries, pasta dishes, side dishes, soups and quick breads. Other varieties of summer squash include pattypan and yellow straight-neck or crookneck squash.
Zucchini is packed with beneficial nutrients including Vitamins C and A, potassium, folate, and fiber which decreases the risk of stroke, reducing high blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol. Due to its high water percentage, zucchini is low in calories, carbs and sugars, but high in essential nutrients like potassium, manganese, and antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A. Zucchini and other types of summer squash are often recommended for digestive issues since they’re hydrating and provide essential electrolytes and nutrients. Research suggests that zucchini also offers anti-inflammatory protection within the GI tract that can reduce IBS, ulcer-related symptoms and leaky gut syndrome.
NUTRIENT BREAKDOWN OF ZUCCHINI
*raw zucchini, 100g (source)
- Fiber | 1.1 g (4% DV)
- Protein | 2.7 g (5% DV)
- Carbohydrates | 3.1 g (1% DV)
- Vitamin A | 490 IU (10% DV)
- Vitamin C | 34.1 mg (57% DV)
- Folate | 20 mcg (5% DV)
- Magnesium | 33 mg (8% DV)
- Potassium | 459 g (13 % DV)
- Calcium | 21 mg (2 % DV)
- Iron | 0.8 mg (4% DV)
HOW TO BUY
When shopping for zucchini or any summer squash, you should always look for the same things: Look for small to medium zucchini that are firm and feel heavy for their size with bright-colored skin free of spots and bruises. Their skins should look shiny and smooth with a bright, even green color and no blemishes.
HOW TO STORE
When storing your zucchini be sure to store it in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer for up to one week. Do not cut the zucchini until you are ready to use it or freeze it. To freeze zucchini for later use, wash and cut into 1-inch chunks before freezing in a zipper-topped freezer bag. The blossoms should be eaten as soon as possible.
HOW TO PREPARE
When preparing zucchini scrub with a brush under cold water to remove any grit, then trim the base and neck. Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetable and can be used for an number of things. To roast simply toss with a little olive oil and sea salt and bake at 350°F, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. To sauté just add oil into a large skillet over medium heat and toss in your zucchini, cooking until tender. My top way to prepare then is as a a substitute for pasta, but you can also use it chopped in salads, soups and casseroles.
Looking for tasty ways to use your zucchini? Check out our favorite recipes here!
WHAT’S YOUR FAV?
What ingredient do you guys want to learn more about? And if you have a favorite way to eat zucchini, tag @livesimplynatural or #livesimplynatural so the LSN community can get inspired by your dish too :)