Did you know the zucchini is one of the vegetables with the fewest calories? Or did you know that you could use it in a variety of dishes? Eat healthy and get ready for the summer! The zucchini is a fantastic option!
The zucchini is an herbaceous plant from the cucurbit family, its scientific name is Cucurbita pepo but it is known not only as zucchini but also as Italian squash, summer squash, cousa squash, crockneck squash, bubango, courgette, long squash, among several other names depending on the country and variety.1,2
The zucchini looks almost like a cucumber, it is about 6 to 10 inches long, it can be light green, dark green or yellow and the skin is thin, soft and tender. It has two different flowers that are usually used as a garnish, eaten fried or as an ingredient in a stuffing or soup.3
This vegetable is composed of about 94% water making it one of the lowest-calorie vegetable. A whole medium zucchini has less than 3 calories and one cup (124g) of sliced zucchini has less than 20 calories! That is fewer than the calories in a medium apple!3,4
The zucchini is also rich in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and β-carotene. A medium zucchini covers between 25% to 35% of an adult’s Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C, about 6% of the RDI of folic acid (B9), about 250mg of potassium and sufficient amount of β-carotene that the body converts to Vitamin A to cover 5% to 10% of the RDI. It also has moderate amounts of B vitamins including thiamin (B1), pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B2) as well as minerals such as iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. One zucchini has about 2g of fiber.3
In order to get as much nutrients as possible it is important to consume the zucchini (or any vegetable for that matter) with its skin and consider the different cooking methods. Eating it raw is best. Baking, steaming, grilling and sautéing looses fewer nutrients than cooking at higher temperatures such as boiling, frying or cooking for a prolonged time. Also, some of these methods, such as frying or sautéing, add calories to it from the absorption of fat during the process of cooking. The more we chop and cut the more nutrients are lost. The vitamins with the greatest loss during the cooking process are the vitamin C and the B vitamin group.5
One thing you should know is that zucchinis loose a lot of water while cooking, so if you are making a “dry” dish, you can avoid all that water by cutting the zucchinis before cooking, sprinkling them with salt and letting them sit over a napkin for a little bit. Doing that will eliminate some water and also avoid that “bitter” taste that some zucchinis have – just make sure to rinse the salt and cook as normal. Another thing to know is that they “shrink” to about half their size so you might need more quantity than you think. When you buy zucchinis make sure they’re firm. If they bend a little they’re old already. Also, have in mind that you need to store them in the fridge and they last up to 7 days.3,5.
The zucchini, like the cucumber, can be added to salads and sandwiches or you can eat it raw as a snack with a light dressing, guacamole or hummus. You can add the zucchini to stews, soups, lasagnas, pizzas, ratatouille, paella, rice, you can grill it, bake it, bread it, stuff it, use it in a soufflé, quiche, bread, cakes or muffins … Anyways, it is a vegetable that can be used in many different dishes.
Use your imagination and eat healthy! Say yes to the zucchini and get ready for summer! I leave you with two recipes inspired by my mother-in-law 🙂 Zucchini and Bikini! My slogan this month!
1 Online. June 6, 2013. from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/zucchini?s=t
2 Online. Junio 10, 2013.Linné, Carl von, Species Plantarum, vol. 2, p.1010, 1753. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/359031#page/452/mode/1up
3 Food that Harm Foods that Heal. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Pleasantville, New York/Montreal. Fifth printing, May 1998. Pg.380
4 Michele Grodner, EdD CHE/Sara Long Anderson, PhD, RD/Sandra DeYoung, PhD, RN. Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition. A Nursing Approach. 1996. Mosby-Year Book, Inc. 11830 Westline Industrial Drive. St. Louis, MO 63146. Appendix A Food Composition Table. Pg. A-54
5 Roxana Medin/Silvina Medin. Alimentos: Introduccion Tecnica y Seguridad. 2da Edicion. Abril 2003. Ediciones Turisticad de Mario Banchik. Belgrano 3027, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pg. 17, 18, 24, 32, 235, 246.