It’s that time of year again…zucchini season! Farm markets are overflowing, and anyone with a garden is probably trying to give this summertime favorite away. There are a few good reasons why these veggies get planted year after year. First of all, they are versatile! From baked goods, to casseroles and stir fries, take a look on line or in any cook book, and you will find an abundance of recipes. But they also have many nutritional benefits, which truly brings them up to “super” status.
If you are following a lower carb diet, the zukes can be your hero. Spiralized, they replace pasta. Though there are some frozen food brands that have offered zucchini spirals, they tend to get pretty mushy when cooked. Fresh zucchini is best if you have a spiralizer. If you don’t, look in your grocery store’s packaged produce section for zucchini spirals that are already prepared. Or, using a potato peeler, thinly slice the zucchini. They won’t be pretty spirals, but they will work just as well! Stir fry them in a little olive oil and seasoning, top with your favorite marinara, and you will never miss the pasta. Not quite ready for going completely pasta-less? Mix a little whole wheat spaghetti in with your zucchini. Your dish will still taste great, but will be a little lower carb and a lot more nutritious.
A one cup serving of cooked zucchini has one gram of protein and 3 grams of fiber, but make sure to leave that skin on! That’s where you will get vitamins like A and C, along with potassium and magnesium. According to EatWell.com, the skin also contains carotenoids. Regularly eating produce that contain carotenoids can help keep our skin hydrated and can also help our skin build up a shield against harmful UV rays. Those are some great anti-aging benefits! Research has also shown that carotenoids can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and help strengthen bones.
So the next time your neighbors ask if you’d like a few zucchinis from their garden, say, “Yes, please!” Whether you shred them to add to bread or cook them as a side dish, you’ll be getting some great health benefits. Need some recipe ideas? We have a few, and here is one to get you started!