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Living in the Land of Zucchini

Aug 13, 03:11 PM

Food and Fitness Fundamentals

This is the gardening time of year that I love! The fruits of my labor from spring planting are now paying off as my edible gardens are in full production. And what is the most prolific right now? Zucchini, of course! Loaves of zucchini bread have been leaping from my oven filling my home with the mouth watering aroma of home-cooked bread. Once semi cooled, I jump in my car and go door to door delivering these fresh hot wonders to my friends, who are very eager to receive.

Zucchini are very low in calories since approximately 95 percent of their weight is water. One cup fresh chopped zucchini provides about 20 calories, and only slightly higher when same quantity is cooked. This serving also provides 4 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber and 2 grams protein. There is no discernible fat, and are cholesterol free. Zucchini offers a variety of vitamins such as A, B-Complex, C and folate, and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, manganese and zinc.

Many of the nutrients are found in the skin; therefore it is best to not peel. There are many different varieties of zucchini, with colors ranging from almost black, light and dark green, to yellow and orange. As is typical with fruits and vegetables, the darker the color the more nutrients they contain. The golden skin varieties in particular are good sources of the antioxidants, zeaxanthin, lutein and carotene which help aide in the role of aging as well as many diseases.

When selecting zucchini choose ones that feel heavy and firm, appear bright and glossy and are free of bruises and nicks. They typically stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one week.

There are endless ways to consume zucchini. They are a fabulous quick low calorie snack with the preparation of simply washing, slicing and eating plain, or with a low calorie dip. Grated fresh zucchini adds another dimension of texture and flavor to salads. Steaming, grilling and baking also make for delicious side dishes and main meals. Bread making I feel is the best way to use oversized zucchini that you may have found suddenly grew tenfold in your garden overnight. With the smaller size vegetables, my favorite is to cut them into medium sticks, roll in an egg white wash followed by panko breadcrumbs that are seasoned with grated parmesan cheese. Once dredged, place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and cook in 350 degree oven until crispy golden brown. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, black pepper and fresh chopped dill. Serve with a side of low calorie ranch dressing as a dip, and enjoy. Yum! What a quick delectable snack or side dish! Click here for more healthy recipes, and other great recipes for zucchini.

Whether you are harvesting from your own garden, enjoying trips to your local farmers market, or simply jaunting to the grocery store, remember these wonderful uses while living in the land of zucchini this summer!

Until next time, here’s to healthy eating!

Lori Dodds, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department.

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