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Zucchini: Why and how to use it in your diet

Zucchini: Why and how to use it in your diet

AUBURN, Ala. –Zucchini has been around for a long time but just recently there has been a trend in the food industry to use this vegetable in place of some carbs. Zucchini is a versatile vegetable that you can eat alone or mix it into your favorite dishes as a healthy alternative.

So why should you incorporate zucchini into your diet?

This summer squash is low in calories with only about 30 in a medium sized zucchini. Compare that to a baked potato with 130 calories. It also has a good amount of potassium at 295 milligrams per cup. That is more potassium than a banana. This courgette is low in sodium, cholesterol-free and contains no saturated fats.

Teresa Forehand, a regional agent in Human Nutrition, Diet and Health with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said, “We should always try to eat foods the color of a rainbow, and zucchini covers the green. It is a vegetable full of nutrients that our bodies need such as fiber and vitamin C.”

Even the peel of the zucchini is great for you with a good source of dietary fiber. The benefits of this vegetable just keep going, it is also full of antioxidants that are found in the skin and seeds, so you should not peel it. Steaming over baking is recommended to get the most benefits.

How can you incorporate this veggie in your diet?

The recipes for zucchini are endless, from tater tots to pasta, even cookies and of course the ever popular zucchini bread. If you like it simple, you can slice it lengthwise and throw it on the grill with herbs. “Zucchini is very versatile. It is great raw and chopped in a garden salad,”Forehand added.  She also likes to chop it up and cook it in chili for her children or as a main dish zucchini boat.

Believe it or not, you can even eat the zucchini blossoms. Technically, zucchini is a fruit because it grows from a flower, but in the culinary world it is classified as a vegetable. You can leave the flower on the zucchini and cook them or you can grill, fry or stuff the blossom.

If you love pasta and it is your go-to comfort food, you may want to invest in a spiralizer.  It is an easy way to make zoodles or zucchini noodles. Put the zoodles into a skillet with a little olive oil and cook over medium heat until soft. You can add a bit of water if you like. Once it is cooked, pair it with a sauce of your choice. This is a great low-carb and low-calorie option to a heavy meal but still has taste and the satisfaction of regular pasta.

The possibilities with this summer squash are endless, it is a great food to experiment with and create new delicious dishes. If you are interested in other recipes for zucchini check out this article and the recipe to the right for dehydrated zucchini.

About Chasity Richards