As I'm writing this post I have a zucchini lasagna baking in the oven. It's summertime here in California and the slightly sloped hill in my backyard has about 10 plants of some type of squash growing, both summer and winter squash. It's safe to say that I love eating all types of squash.
Squash is native to Central America where originally it was grown for its seeds, but not its flesh because of its bitterness and small size. Over time and through years of cultivation it became an edible and palatable flesh with many varieties. These delectable vegetables come in many colors, shapes and sizes.
Squash is categorized into two groups, summer and winter varieties. Zucchini is a part of the summer family. Summer squash is 95% water, and doesn't keep well. But its low calorie content makes it a good choice for eating light and supporting weight loss. Winter squash is about 82% water and can be stored through the long winter.
One of the health benefits of zucchini squash and the other summer varieties is their high potassium content. One cup of summer squash has more than three times the potassium of the average potassium supplement. Summer squash is abundant in the cancer preventing beta-carotene, and vision preserving vitamin A. These vegetables are also high in vitamin C, and are an excellent source of manganese. Other phytonutrients found in zucchini and friends include lutein and zeaxanthin. In summary, these nutrients found in summer squash foster bone health, heart health, healthy weight and cancer prevention.
The best way to prepare this healthy plant food is to eat it raw or cook it "al dente" to maintain most of the nutrient content. I love to saute cubed squash in coconut oil with garlic, onions and a handful of raisins to give it a sweet taste. And, of course, I replace grain noodles with thick slices of squash to make a delicious summer lasagne (pictured right). And don't toss the blossoms on the end of your zucchini. These can be eaten as well. I've had them stuffed with cheese and fried. Be aware that the yellow crook-necked variety is generally a genetically modified food if it's not organic. GMO foods should be avoided in my opinion.
Summer and winter squash is relatively easy to grow in regions with warm sunny summers. Just a few plants can produce a bountiful harvest for 2 or 3 months! And I would be amiss if I didn't mention how tasty a fresh loaf of zucchini bread tastes right out of the oven! I've got some grain-free recipes for that as well.