Summer is here in North Carolina, so zucchini is abundant – leaving many wondering how to incorporate this healthful food into your diet. While not everyone agrees on the flavor of zucchini – there’s no denying how good it is for you. The truth is, though – zucchini is so mild in flavor that it can be incorporated into dozens of delicious meals with a little creative inspiration.
6 Health Benefits of Zucchini
WakeMed dietitian, Meredith Ebersohl, highlights just a few great health benefits of zucchini:
- Zucchini has a high water content, so it’s a great choice for helping stay hydrated during summer months while also supporting healthy digestion.
- With 280 mg per cup, zucchini is also a good source of potassium, a mineral we need to stay healthy. Potassium is important in controlling blood pressure by helping our bodies get rid of sodium and relaxing blood vessels.
- Zucchini is high in fiber, which is good for digestion, gut health and blood sugar regulation.
- Each cup of zucchini has about a third of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the immune system work and supports connective tissue.
- Zucchini is a non-starchy vegetable, so it fits in a variety of meal plans without adding many calories.
- Like all fruits and vegetables, zucchini contains phytochemicals that can help with cancer prevention as well as eye, skin and heart health.
Where to Get Zucchini
Zucchini is in season from May through September in North Carolina, so it should be easy to find NC grown zucchini in the grocery stores. The farmer’s market is always a great option for getting fresh fruits and vegetables and the farmers are happy to share how recently the produce has been harvested.
A Versatile Veggie – 8 Great Ways to Prepare Zucchini
This green summer squash is so versatile, it can be prepared just about any way you can dream up. Even for those who think they don’t care for zucchini, the good news is there are so many creative ways to prepare it that nearly everyone can find a way to enjoy the many health benefits of this tasty summer squash.
Here are some great ideas to incorporate zucchini into your diet this summer.
#1 – Marinate it.
Zucchini is great marinated for a cool, fresh salad dish. Slice it and marinate in a blend of white wine vinegar, a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper and your favorite herbs. Mix it with other summer veggies like tomatoes and banana peppers for a refreshing and healthy salad.
#2 – Grate it.
Use grated zucchini to make fritters (great topped with plain yogurt) or as a base for egg dishes. Sauté grated zucchini and minced garlic in some olive oil. Crack some eggs directly on the cooked zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and finish cooking the dish in the oven, or pour scrambled eggs and seasonings over the zucchini for a frittata. Top with cheese and serve on toast or pair with black beans and salsa.
#3 – Blend it.
Zucchini hummus is an incredibly simple way to use a lot of zucchini and tastes GREAT. Take a few chopped zucchini and blend with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper – using either a food processor or a high-powered blender for a smooth and creamy dip.
#4 – Grill it.
Drizzle zucchini strips with olive oil, salt and pepper and throw it on the grill. Topped with fresh basil, grilled zucchini makes a great summer side dish.
#5 – Sauté it.
Zucchini is perfect for sautéing. Spray a sauté pan with cooking spray, add your favorite herbs and heat it until you reach your desired consistency. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and serve alongside your favorite protein for a perfect meal.
#6 – Spiralize it.
A perfect, low-carb alternative to noodles, spiralized zucchini is easy to make with a simple handheld spiralizer and tastes great topped with your favorite pasta sauce. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can often find spiralized zucchini in the produce or frozen foods section of the grocery store.
#7 – Bake it.
Zucchini makes a great base for muffins, bread or even meatloaf. Grated zucchini will add moisture and plenty of nutrients to these great dishes. Other great options include zucchini pie or quiche, which are other great ways to incorporate this veggie into a baked dish.
#8 – Stuff it.
Zucchini “boats” can make a great, hearty summer meal. Just slice a large zucchini down the center, scoop out the seeds and fill it with a blend of your favorite combination of rice, cooked protein (ground turkey works great!), veggies, aromatics and cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
About Meredith Ebersohl, RD
Meredith is a registered dietitian who teaches nutrition classes, offers one-on-one nutrition counseling, and develops education material. She is passionate about explaining nutrition research and helping people incorporate sustainable changes in their lives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their two young children, and their middle-aged pets.