The Health Benefits of Zucchini

What’s all the squash about? When I was young my grandfather would pick the blossoms of the zucchini plant early in the morning for my grandmother to bread and fry up, or she would even stuff and bake the blossoms in the oven. I remember after I was married, she and my grandfather brought all the ingredients to my kitchen to share the tradition of the “flowers”. Those zucchini flowers were such a favorite of mine growing up, and now my family enjoys eating up the blossoms faster than I can cook them.

Summer squash are in abundance right now, so be sure to get over to the Keep it Local Wednesdays Farmers’ Market on Wednesday from 4:00 – 7:30pm and visit us at our new location at Act Natural Health & Wellness, 24 Water Street in Torrington. You will find our organic farmers under their tents in the KidsPlay Museum Parking Lot. Pick up a few zucchini as they have great health benefits. Try the Healthy Zucchini Soft Taco Shells which I have included.

Health benefits of zucchini

 Zucchini is a very low calorie vegetable, providing only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.

 Zucchinis have an anti-oxidant value (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity- ORAC) of 180 Trolex Equivalents (TE) per 100g, far below many berries, and vegetables. Nonetheless, the pods are a common vegetable used by dieticians in weight reduction and cholesterol control programs.

 Golden skin varieties especially are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body, which play a role in aging and various disease processes.

 Courgette hold relatively moderate amounts of folates, providing 24 µg or 6% of RDA per 100 g. Folates are important in cell division and DNA synthesis. When taken adequately during early pregnancy it can help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.

 Zucchini is a very good source of potassium and an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart-friendly electrolyte and helps bring about the reduction in blood pressure and heart rate by countering pressure-effects of sodium.

 Fresh fruits are rich in vitamin A; provide about 200 IU per 100 g.

 Fresh pods, are good source of anti-oxidant vitamin-C. Provide about 17.9 µg or 30% of daily-required levels per 100 g. In addition, they contain moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.

Healthy Zucchini Soft “Taco” Shells

Yield: 8 – 5-inch Shells

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Enjoy these shells as a snack or a wrap, so think beyond the taco. Don’t bake them too long, or they’ll dry out and be difficult to peel off. To help from sticking, you can lightly spray the parchment paper with oil. But you’ll end up with a less crispy shell.

Squeezing out as much excess water in the grated zucchini will make the taco shells a little more “firm”. One method is to microwave the zucchini till moisture releases, then squeezing out the water. Or lightly sautéing the zucchini for a few minutes, then squeezing out the water. Just be careful to not cook the zucchini too much or use too much oil, or else you’ll get mush.

Ingredients:

• 4 cups (950ml) zucchini, coarsely grated

• 1 large egg

• 1/2 cup (120ml) grated parmesan cheese

• 1/4 cup (60ml) bread crumbs

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Remove as much moisture as you can from the zucchini. Add zucchini to large bowl and mix in remainder of the taco shell ingredients (egg, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and cumin).

3. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or oven proof baking mat. Scoop about ¼ cup of mixture and press down on baking pan into a thin circle, about 5” wide. Repeat for remainder of mixture.

4. Bake shells for about 25 minutes, or until the shells look “crisp’ and brown around the edges. We like to bake the shells a little longer for a more charred texture and flavor. Just be careful to not bake too long or else the shells dry out and are hard to peel off.

5. After zucchini soft taco shells are cool, gently peel them off the parchment paper.

Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

 

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