Zucchini: Another Food to Love

Eat More Zucchini

Growing up in New York, zucchini was a regular staple on the dinner table. It was in the homemade soups, sauces, baked, grilled, and sliced cold into salads. Zucchini was everywhere.

There are may varieties of zucchini, and there is always some confusion between what is zucchini and what is squash? Here is a simple explanation of the two:

Both zucchini and squash belong to the genus Cucurbita though they are members of different species.

Zucchini ‘“ is of the species pepo.
Squash ‘“ is of the species maxima, mixta, moschata, and pepo.

Zucchini ‘“ is typically called summer squash because it is harvested in August and September. During the spring and summer it grows on vines. These vines produce large, brightly colored flowers that yield zucchini, technically a fruit because it stores the seeds of the plant.
Squash ‘“ in its most popular form of the pumpkin, is harvested late in the year, October or November. Prior to that it grows in the same manner as zucchini, though it ripens longer and vine and grows to a larger size.

A food filled with vitamins and nutrients, zucchini is rich in vitamin C, molybdenum, B6, manganese, and B12. As an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoid phytonutrients), summer squash provides us with a great combination of conventional antioxidant nutrients. But it also contains an unusual amount of other antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are especially helpful in antioxidant protection of the eye, including protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. While we often think first about carrots as providing us with antioxidant-related eye health benefits, we also need to start including summer squash in our list of antioxidant-rich foods that can provide us with health benefits in this area.

I have chose a few recipes to consider. Next time you go shopping, stop and pick up a couple of zucchini and learn what you have been missing. Easy to prepare, there is nothing intimidating about the garden beauty.

Basal, Shrimp, and Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini Canoes

Five-Minute Sautéed Summer Squash

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