Monday, August 1, 2011

Don't be Dissin' the Zucchini!

This is the time of year when bad zucchini jokes proliferate almost as fast as the zucchini itself. That’s sad. The zucchini is getting a bad rap because a lot of home gardeners let it get completely out of hand and then have no idea what to do with it…other than give it to friends, neighbors and in some cases, total strangers.

However, consider the following nutritional facts about zucchini:

One of the very low calories vegetable that is used during weight reduction and cholesterol control programs. Zucchinis provide only 17 calories per 100 g. Contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.
 Courgette is relatively moderate source of folates, consists of 24 mcg or 6% of RDA per 100 g. Folates are important in cell division and DNA synthesis. When taken adequately before pregnancy, it can help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.
 It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte; helps reduce blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium.
 Fresh fruits are rich in vitamin A; provide about 200 IU per 100 g.
 Furthermore, zucchinis, especially golden skin variety are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body that play a role in aging and various disease process.
 Fresh fruit is good source of anti-oxidant vitamin-C. Provide about 17.9 mcg or 30% of RDA per 100g.
 In addition, they are also good in B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
(Nutrition and

Wow, that makes it sound like EVERYONE should grow and eat zucchini!

Zucchini is amazingly versatile and quite delicious. It can be used in a myriad of ways. But, ALL of the recipes and ideas for its use rely on the fact that the zucchini has not reached the proportions of a canoe, submarine, or zeppelin.

When we began doing restaurant sales, the sales manager called with a restaurant request for zucchini. I don’t remember the amount, but the restaurant specifically stated that they wanted zukes that were only 6 inches long! What? I had no idea that you could use them that small. (when I was a child, we always had at least baseball bat-sized ones) We filled the order, and tried eating the small ones ourselves. Oh my goodness! This was a whole new vegetable!

A zucchini plant left to its own devices is a most efficient growing entity. In order to have the small, tender delicious fruits, the plants must be checked daily. Occasionally, a dark green one will escape me and grow to an undesirable size. These generally end up in zucchini bread…or the zucchini cake that Tom especially loves.

Not to sound too much like Forrest Gump, but you can have zucchini fritters, pancakes, tart, omelet, sauté, cake, and bread. Zucchini can be added to salads, spaghetti, and meatloaf. It can be canned or frozen for off-season use.

…and it makes some awesome pickles!
So, no more jokes….okay?

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