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
Try this delicious recipe right out of The Official Anti-Inflammatory Diet Masterclass.
Chipotle Zucchini & Sweet Potato Fritters
- ¼ cup unsalted butter or ghee melted
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp chipotle seasoning store-bought or make your own with the recipe below
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper or to taste
- 2 Tbsp almond flour
- 3 cups coarsely grated peeled sweet potato
- 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini dried well
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or aluminum foil and spray with olive oil spray; set aside.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. To the melted butter, add the egg and beat with a fork to combine. Add the chipotle seasoning, salt and pepper, and stir to combine well. Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the sweet potato and zucchini; toss to combine. Mixture will be loose and a bit soggy. Using a ½ cup measure, form fritters by transferring one heaping ½ cup of vegetable mixture from mixing bowl directly to baking sheets. Mound the mixture into loosely packed circular shapes.
- Bake fritters for about 10 minutes. If fritters have released any liquids, either from the zucchini releasing water, or the butter-egg mixture, just push the liquid back into a fritter using a spatula.
- Lower oven temperature to 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes. Carefully flip fritters over and bake for about 15 more minutes, or until browned. Fritters will be browned but soft upon removal from oven. Allow them to cool and firm up on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes before moving or serving them.
- If desired, serve fritters with a favorite mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, salsa or other anti-inflammatory condiment.
- These fritters make a great side dish, snack or healthy appetizer.
- Fritters will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. They can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and make for easy lunchbox food.
- ½ Tbsp crushed red or chipotle pepper
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.
- Store in air-tight container for up to 4 months.
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