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Everything You Need To Know About Zucchini

Everything You Need To Know About Zucchini
Reading Time: 5 minutesPan fried zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini noodles, and zucchini chips, what better food is there than zucchini? There are so many versatile ways to use it, and it is so healthy for you too. This wonderful vegetable is easy to find in any grocery store, or garden bed for that matter! The zucchini belongs to the squash family and it can be served raw or cooked, depending on your preference. It is a summer vegetable, and can be found in many different dishes from many different cultures around the world. No matter how many servings of zucchini bread you prefer, or if you like it just baked, you will be reaping the benefits in one form or another.

Zucchini Fun Facts

  • “Zucchini is a “zucchina”.
  • Zucchinis were first brought to the United States in the 1920s by the Italians.
  • April 25th is National Zucchini Bread Day.
  • Mild bitterness in zucchini, like that in related species like cucumbers, may be a result of environmental factors such as high temperature, low moisture, low soil nutrients, etc. The bitterness is caused by compounds called cucurbitacins.
  • A zucchini has more potassium than a banana.
  • Biggest is NOT best. The most flavorful zucchinis are small- to medium-sized and the darker the skin, the richer the nutrients.” [1]
  • “The flower of the zucchini plant is also edible.
  • The world’s largest zucchini on record was 69 1/2 inches long, and weighed 65 pounds. Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon, UK, grew the humongous veggie.” [2]
  • “Zucchini has antioxidant benefits. Much of the antioxidant nutrients are found in the seeds and skin of the plant, and not just its flesh. So it is important to consume it without peeling the skin. To retain the strongest amount of anti-oxidant benefits, steaming is recommended over baking or boiling.
  • The peel is a good source of dietary fiber and may help in reducing constipation.” [3]
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Zucchini History/Mythology

Zucchinis have been around for over 7,000 years and were originally cultivated in Mexico and South America but found their way over to Europe when colonization began. It has been said that Christopher Columbus brought the first zucchini seeds to the Mediterranean region as well as Africa. They were then developed in Italy near the city of Milan during the 19th century, making them a classic Italian staple even to this day. This even explains the origin of the name zucchini, because the Italian word for squash is zucca. They then made their way back to America in the 20th century when Italian immigrants came over around 1920. The name zucchini still stuck around the United States, even though it is a classic Italian name. [4]

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Once they were brought to America, they were first cultivated in the state of California. Even though they were back where they originated, they were not used the same way. Before, when they were grown alongside of corn and beans, they were essential to the diets of the people. According to Big Zucchini, “Archaeologists have traced their origins to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and is known today as the “three sisters.” [5]

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Zucchini Nutritional Facts

The dark green skin on the outside of a zucchini is one of its most nutritious aspects, and it tastes amazing too. The actual nutritional benefits go way beyond just seeing this summer squash as a vegetable when you actually take a deeper dive into its properties. Just one zucchini is loaded with manganese, vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamin B 1, 2, and 6, as well as zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Who would have thought all of these incredible vitamins and minerals could be packed into such a small veggie? [6]

In just one zucchini alone, there are only 33 calories if it is medium sized. Other important vitamins to note are vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, and magnesium. Because of the high potassium content, zucchinis are extremely good for your heart because they can help regulate and control blood pressure throughout the body. When you increase potassium and reduce sodium, the risk for stroke significantly goes down, and zucchinis are a delicious way to fight against this kind of attack. [7]

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Zucchini Health Benefits

The actual health benefits of eating a zucchini are ten fold, as they truly do enhance your overall wellness and quality of life. When you eat a zucchini, whether it has been baked, sautéed, steamed, or even stuffed with cheese, you still reap the benefits. On that same note, there are a lot of different zucchini recipes to choose from, which will in turn greater your chances of consumption.

It has been said that when you consume zucchinis on a regular basis, it helps to fight disease in your body. The cancer causing toxins that sit in your colon get washed away with the presence of zucchini, as well as other harmful chemicals that do damage internally to the body. Zucchinis are also very high in vitamin C and beta carotene, which fight inflammation in the body naturally. Pesky diseases that eventually can creep up, like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and asthma, are significantly slowed down when you consume zucchini.

According to Organic Facts, “It helps to promote eye health, and prevents all the diseases that occur from vitamin C deficiency like scurvy, sclerosis, and easy bruising. It helps to cure asthma and has a high content of vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.” [6] If that is not enough to impress you, they also help you lose weight with their ability to make you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Because zucchinis are high in fiber, the feeling of being full lasts long after you’ve eaten a few slices.

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Zucchini Varieties

If you think there is just one green zucchini variety to choose from, think again! If you are a gardener, there is nothing more exciting than trying to grow a variety of veggies like the zucchini to see which one is your favorite! There are a variety of types and even colors to choose from and they all taste amazing. Whether you like grilled zucchini, baked zucchini, or just general zucchini recipes, there is a variety to choose from. Nutrition and You named the most prevalent and the most popular varieties of zucchini to choose from.

  • “Golden zucchini features bright golden-yellow skin that retains its color even after cooking.
  • Round types are dense, heavy, and nearly seedless with a smooth surface.
  • Tatume, which is common in Mexico, has similar features of the round variety but has a large oval shape.
  • Costata Romanesco, also known as Cocozelle, is a long, narrow type with a slight bulge at the bottom end. It features pale, raised ribs with mottled green skin. When robust and young, this squash is juicy and sweet.
  • Middle-Eastern types are stocky, light green, with tapering ends, and a thick dark-green stem. They have smooth, shiny skin and firm, crispy and flavorful flesh.
  • Yellow Crooknecks have thick warty skin with a markedly curved neck. They are crunchy in texture with sweet, delicate flavor.” [8]
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Zucchini Uses

The uses for this amazing vegetable go far beyond this article, but let me tell you there are some delicious recipes to choose from! Zucchini noodles have become all the rage in the health and fitness world, and all you need to create them is a spiralizer! Or what about the famous baked and stuffed zucchini boats that won’t leave you feeling overly full and guilty? My all-time favorite, which goes over well with a house full of guests, is a piping hot zucchini bread recipe. There is nothing better than enjoying this bread with a hot pad of butter melting over the top of it. See below for a really tasty, yet simple, zucchini bread recipe that comes directly from The Food Network.

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Zucchini Bread Recipe

By: Paula Deen and The Food Network

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Instructions

“Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini, and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.” [9]

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