What fruit fills you up and discourages overeating? Zucchini! How can this happen? While often thought of as a vegetable, zucchini is actually a low-starch fruit (meaning it is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber). Dietary fiber increases food volume without increasing caloric content, making you feel full, which may reduce your appetite.
Health Benefits of Zucchini
Zucchini has many health benefits. It is also low in cholesterol, sodium, and fat. It helps maintain a balance of carbohydrates – a requirement for ideal heart health. Its high fiber content has been associated with significantly lower risks of developing stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. The fiber in this fruit may also increase insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar levels, possibly reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Zucchini is rich in several vitamins, minerals, and other valuable plant compounds. Specifically, its abundant vitamin A content may support your vision and immune system. But be careful how you prepare zucchini as raw zucchini offers a similar nutrition profile as cooked zucchini, but with less vitamin A and more vitamin C, a nutrient that tends to be reduced by cooking.
Zucchini is also rich in antioxidants, which help protect your body from damage. These antioxidants may benefit your eyes, skin and heart; they also offer some protection against certain types of cancer. The highest levels of antioxidants are found in the fruit’s skin.
Because of the water and fiber found in zucchini, this fruit promotes healthy digestion, reducing your risk of constipation and symptoms of various gut disorders.
Try to incorporate it into your meals in some of these ways:
- Add it raw to salads
- Stuff with healthy protein or vegetables, then bake it
- For a mild stir-fry, sauté it
- Boil it, then blend it into soups
- Serve it as a side, grilled or sautéed with your favorite spice blends
- Spiralize it into “zoodles” for spaghetti and meat sauce, or slice it to replace lasagna sheets
- Bake it into approved bread, pancakes or muffins
In some cultures, the zucchini flower is considered a delicacy. You can sprinkle it raw on salads, soups and stews.
Store unwashed zucchini on your counter for about two weeks. Or store in a perforated or open plastic bag for up to a week in the refrigerator. You can also freeze zucchini for later use. There are a couple of ways to prepare the zucchini for the freezer.
- Shred unpeeled zucchini, drain it in a colander and then squeeze it gently to remove excess moisture. Place it in sealed freezer bags and freeze flat so the bags can stack in the freezer. Shredding is a great way to freeze if you will be making a casserole, meatballs or fritters.
- You can also wash the fruit, dry it thoroughly, cut it into one-inch cubes, and freeze it in freezer bags. Either way, frozen zucchini lasts up to 3 months.
Have you ever thought about growing your own zucchini? Here are a few facts if you ever get the itch:
- Each fruit can grow to more than 3.2 feet in length but is usually picked measuring 6 – 8 inches, when still immature. If you leave the fruit on the vine too long, the seeds and rind harden, making it inedible.
- Read more at Gardening Know How: Zucchini Squash Harvesting: When Is Zucchini Ready to Pick https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/zucchini/zucchini-squash-harvesting.htm
Here is one of my favorite recipes containing zucchini. Make it with or without the Keto option; it’s delicious either way!
Bolognese-Style Stuffed Zucchini
- 4 very firm zucchini
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder pepper and garlic powder
- 3 Tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 onion diced
- 1 rib celery diced
- ¼ lb pancetta or bacon finely chopped
- 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup beef or chicken broth
- 28 oz crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese Keto option
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese Keto option
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Halve zucchini lengthwise and scrape out seeds from the center of squash, making a boat for filling. Season boats with salt, pepper and garlic powder and lightly rub with olive oil. Roast, cut side up about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile add 2 Tbsp olive oil, onion and celery to a large skillet and soften about 5 minutes. Add pancetta and cook to lightly crisp. Add beef, seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble, then stir in garlic and tomato paste. Add broth, tomatoes, spinach and basil; simmer to thicken.
- Evenly fill the boats with sauce and top with cheeses (Keto option). Place back in oven and bake until browned and bubbly. Serve hot.
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