If you were to list vegetables from your favorite down to your least favorite, you might be tempted to squash zucchini in at the bottom of the list. After all, its flavor is bland and it is so abundant in the summer.
We need to give zucchini more credit than we currently do, though, because it is a wonder food – wonderful in its history, nutritional content and uses.
Zucchini first put down roots in Italy
The first historical records of zucchini come from northern Italy. This slender squash was cultivated all through the late 1800s but wasn’t officially referred to as zucchine, meaning little gourds or squash, until 1901.
Almost 20 years later, zucchine crossed the ocean to the United States, specifically to California. It gradually spread across our country and eventually began to be called zucchini.
Zucchinis contain a wealth of nutrients
Zucchinis overflow with important vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as a healthy percentage of water.
Every zucchini is composed of 90-95% water. This water content makes zucchini a low-carb and low-calorie vegetable that is great to eat if you are focused on eating lightly and losing weight.
Zucchinis also provide:
- Vitamin A – Important for good vision, immunity and heart health.
- Vitamin B6 – Helps regulate moods, stress and sleep.
- Vitamin C – Essential for the development and repair of all tissue, as well as immunity.
- Vitamin K – Important for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
- Potassium – Lowers blood pressure, as well as helps maintain muscle mass and bone density.
- Magnesium – Supports nerve and muscle function and helps regulate blood sugar.
- Healthy Fiber – Encourages healthy gut flora and aids digestion.
Zucchinis can be eaten any time of day
Zucchinis are easy to cook and can be incorporated into any meal. Below are a few recipes that will give you ideas of how you can fit zucchinis into every meal of the day, including your desserts.
- Zoats – A wonderful blend of zucchini and oats that you can make in a variety of flavors, including chocolate zoats.
- Zucchini and Eggs – Zucchini pairs well with eggs in any shape and form, which includes scrambled eggs and zucchini.
- Smoothies – Zucchinis can be added to almost any smoothie. It will increase the smoothie’s nutritional content and creaminess. Here’s one great recipe to try: Creamy Zucchini Blueberry Smoothie
- Zoodles – Zucchini that is made into noodles, humorously called zoodles, can be used to make gluten-free pasta dishes, for instance, these Guilt-Free Garlic Parmesan Noodles.
- Sandwiches – Thin slices of zucchini can be added to any of your favorite sandwiches. They will add in a few additional vitamins, extra fiber and a nice crunch. If you are in the mood for something new, why don’t you try a Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwich?
- Casseroles – Zucchinis can be the main ingredient or a secondary ingredient in a wide variety of casseroles, including in this Low-carb, Keto-friendly Casserole
- Lasagnas – Zucchini lasagnas are a great way to satisfy a craving for Italian food. Many of them, like this No-Noodle Zucchini Lasagna, are low-carb and full of healthy goodness.
- Salads – Zucchinis can be grated or sliced thinly and added raw to any fresh salad. They can also be used in marinated salads, such as this Marinated Zucchini and Chickpea Salad.
- One-Skillet Meals – Because it cooks quickly and can be prepared without a lot hassle, zucchini is a great vegetable to include in one-skillet meals. This recipe for Rustic Zucchini Tian can be used as a side dish or a vegan meal.
- Curries – If you love the warm, satisfying flavor of curry, you need to try it with zucchini. Here’s a Cambiati-clean recipe for Spicy Curry Chicken that includes cauliflower, bell peppers and of course, zucchini.
- Zucchini Bread – Zucchini’s water content gives bread extra moisture and a soft texture. Zucchini bread comes in a wide variety of flavors, including Chocolate Zucchini Bread.
- Squares and Bars – Believe it or not, zucchini can also be used to make tasty dessert squares and bars, for example, these Zucchini Crumble Bars that are topped with walnuts and Zucchini Squares flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cookies – You can use zucchinis to make wonderfully delicious and healthy cookies, such as these Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Oatmeal.
So how do you choose a good zucchini?
Zucchinis can be dark or light green, yellow or even green and white striped. Independent of their color, the best zucchinis are no more than 10 inches long. Their skin should be smooth and brightly colored, and overall they should feel firm and heavy.
The next time you think of cooking with zucchini don’t squash the idea or you will miss out on numerous important nutrients, as well as a lot of wonderful flavors.
Fun Fact: Zucchinis can grow to be more than a yard in length and as they mature, they become tough and fibrous. Because of this, most zucchinis that are destined to be eaten are picked while they are immature so that they are soft and flavorful.
The British allow some of their zucchinis to reach maturity and call them marrows. These marrows are often used as casings for mincemeat and other delicacies. If you are an adventurous cook, you might want to try a Stuffed Marrow Bake.