Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is Zucchini?

A)    An Italian opera
B)    A starting shortstop for the New York Yankees?
C)    One of Christopher Columbus’s ships?
D)   A very popular summer squash

If you picked anything other than D, then I suggest reading on.  In fact, no matter what answer you gave, understanding this tasty and versatile vegetable is well worth the effort.

Zucchini is one of the few varieties of squash that was developed in Europe, Italy to be specific.  Now popular worldwide and found in most gardens in the United States, zucchini probably migrated to America during the 1920s, brought over by Italian immigrants.  Being an Italian-American, may I be the first to say: “Grazie tanto!”

Now that we know how this delicious veggie got here, let’s take a look at how to prepare it.

I love dicing small zucchini and adding them to my salads.  Mixing with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and lettuce, zucchini add an additional crunch and nutritional value to a simple salad.

Another way to eat zucchini is grating them to use for breads.  My mother used to slice zucchini up, add tomatoes, onions and peppers, and simmer in a skillet, and then serve it up with fresh Parmesan cheese as a mouthwatering side dish to one of the many Italian meals she used to make.  You can even eat the zucchini blossom.

But one of my favorite ways to prepare this squash is slicing one of the larger ones in half, scooping out all of the yummy insides, and mixing that with anything from rice or quinoa, along with tomatoes, black olives, artichoke, carrots—anything you can think of—and then topping it off with mozzarella cheese and baking it.  Oh, and don’t forget to drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil—can you say: “Buon appetito!”

Zucchini is very low in calories, and therefore a good food to add to your daily diet if you are trying to lose weight—and who isn’t, right?  It also is high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese.  Also a good source of beta-carotene, zinc, potassium, and dietary fiber.

Consuming this versatile and delicious vegetable may also help combat many cancers, improve prostate health, and act as an anti-inflammatory.

No matter how you slice it (pun intended); zucchini is one of the most popular squashes in the world.  Easy to grow, tasty, healthy for you, and simple to serve.  What’s not to like?

Until next time…




ish said...

love to try that!

Dr. Noel Henley said...

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Unknown said...

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Terence said...

Hi Mike.

Thanks for the intro for Zucchini, esp. the video. Will look out for this low calorie vegetable.