Fall is here and the bounty of summer vegetable gardens is coming to an end. But I’ve had an abundant amount of zucchini this year (my tomatoes were not as prolific…) so I wanted to share a bit about the heath and nutritional benefits of this delicious member of the gourd family!
Zucchini is dark green and is actually a firm fruit. Although most people think of it as a summer vegetable, it is indeed a fruit. The plant is native to Central America and Mexico and is one of the ‘Three Sisters’ which were crops planted together within a shared space. This indigenous agricultural practice used three plants — corn, beans, and squash — to nourish and protect each other as they grew.
Zucchini plants can grow in nearly every climate during the warm months. It takes only one or two plants to produce enough for one family. In addition to being a good producer throughout the growing season, zucchini is also high in nutrition and has several health benefits. Zucchinis are best harvested when they’re 1.5 inches round and no longer than 8 inches.
They’re rich with antioxidants and micronutrients and these benefits include reduced blood sugar levels, improved heart health, improved vision, enhanced weight loss, improved bone health, reduced inflammation and improved digestion. WOW!
One cup of chopped zucchini is low in calories and because zucchini is high in water and fiber, it may fit well into your weight loss plan. The water and fiber content help you feel full longer.
Zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles, are a unique and interesting way of replacing pasta in your diet if you’re seeking to eat gluten-free or low carb. Zoodles can be made with a julienne peeler for thick flat slices of zucchini or with a spiralizer for curly zoodles. The zoodles can be sauteed, boiled, baked or eaten raw.
By replacing pasta with zoodles, you can eat the same volume of food, get full and feel full longer. This is important since eating foods rich in carbohydrates, like pasta, can spike your blood sugar level and then cause it to drop within a couple of hours, leaving you feeling hungry all over again.
There are multiple ways to enjoy zucchini in your menu plan. I like to dry zucchini chips in my dehydrator with seasonings – you can cut them to a thickness of your liking to enjoy as low-carb, crispy treats or with a meal.
Slice up your fresh zucchini in a salad, create zoodles topped with parmesan cheese with a meal or try these delicious crunchy fritters as a wonderful side dish:
- 1 large or 2 small zucchinis
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 T. lemon zest
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. of pepper
- 2 T. organic coconut oil
- Using the large holes of a box grater, grate zucchini. Place zucchini in a colander set in the sink and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 10 minutes, and then wring zucchini dry in a clean kitchen towel to remove moisture.
- Place zucchini in a large bowl and gently mix in egg, garlic, basil, oregano, lemon zest, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Slowly add flour, stirring so no lumps form.
- Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until the oil sizzles when you drop a small amount of zucchini mixture into the pan.
- Carefully drop about 2 tablespoons of zucchini mixture into the pan; repeat, spacing fritters a few inches apart.
- Cook fritters until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Turn fritters, and continue cooking until golden, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Transfer fritters to a plate; set aside in a warm place. Cook the remaining zucchini mixture, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.