What is Zucchini?
Also called courgette, zucchini has its origin in America and is available in yellow, light green, and green color. The shape of this small summer squash resembles that of a ridged cucumber and features numerous seeds. Some cultivators also produce zucchini in rounded or bottle shapes. Today, the largest producers of this squash include Japan, China, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and Argentina. It is grown year-round and can be eaten raw, sliced or in cooked form. It can also be shredded in a cold salad and is also cooked in hot salads.
Even though zucchini is a fruit, it is usually cooked as a vegetable because it is best when eaten in cooked dishes. It is picked when it’s below 8in/20cm in length and the seeds are soft and young. A fully developed zucchini is usually three feet long and contains too much fiber and is not good to eat. Young zucchini has a subtle taste, soft covering, and buttery white flesh. It is available in its best form during May and July. Almost all the parts of this squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds, and even the skin.
If you are looking for a way to lose weight in a healthy way, it’s time for you to learn about the health benefits of zucchini. Zucchini is well-known to reduce weight, yet boost the nutrient value of your diet. Moreover, it helps enhance vision and prevent all the diseases that occur from vitamin C deficiency like scurvy, sclerosis, and easy bruising. It helps cure asthma and has a high content of vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. It contains significant quantities of potassium, folate, and vitamin A, all of which are important for good health. When eaten regularly, it can effectively lower your homocysteine levels.
Zucchini which is also known as courgette has many health benefits which includes heart health, improves vision, aids in weight loss, strengthens bones and teeth among others.
History Of Zucchini
Less than thirty years ago, the zucchini, formerly often referred to as green Italian squash, was hardly recognized in the United States. Today, it is not only widely-recognized but a particular favorite of home gardeners. Notwithstanding its prolific growing nature, its popularity is probably due to in large part to its versatility as a vegetable as well as in breads and desserts.
Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, is a member of the cucumber and melon family. Inhabitants of Central and South America have been eating zucchini for several thousand years, but the zucchini we know today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy.
The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning “green thing eaten green.” Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa.
The French snubbed zucchini for a long time until chefs learned to choose small fruits which are less bland and watery. The French term for zucchini is courgette, which is often used interchangeably for yellow squash as well. Although the term summer squash can mean a variety of different squashes depending on to whom you are speaking, you can pretty much use the different summer squash varieties interchangeably.
Types Of Zucchini
Zucchini comes in numerous varieties. A few of the popular ones are:
- Aristocrat, where the fruit has waxy skin and is medium green.
- Gold Rush, where the fruit is golden.
- Black Zucchini, where the skin is dark green, and the fruit has white flesh. This is the most common variety of zucchini.
- Zucchini Gadzukes, a green fruit with distinct light green ridges.
|PRINCIPLE||NUTRIENT VALUE||PERCENTAGE OF RDA|
|Total Fat||0.32 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1 g||3%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.204 mg||5%|
|Vitamin A||200 IU||7%|
|Vitamin C||17.9 mg||30%|
|Vitamin E||0.12 mg||<1%|
|Vitamin K||4.3 µg||4%|
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 17
- Fat 0.3 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 8 mg
- Potassium 261 mg – 7% RDA
- Carbohydrate 3.1 g – 1% RDA
- Dietary fiber 1 g – 4% RDA
- Sugar 2.5 g
- Protein 1.2 g – 2% RDA
- Vitamin A 4% RDA
- Vitamin C 29% RDA
- Calcium 1% RDA
- Iron 2% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 10% RDA
- Magnesium 4% RDA
It’s super low in calories
Zucchini makes the perfect light side dish for a heavy meal: One cup of sliced zucchini has about 19 calories. That’s 40 to 50% lower than the same serving size for other low-cal green veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. And because it’s so versatile, you can enjoy this low-calorie food in so many different recipes, from baked fries to pesto roll-ups. Of course, you can always grill zucchini with herbs for some savory flavor, too.
Amazing Health Benefits of Zucchini
1. Improves Vision
Zucchini has carotenoid Beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A which helps in the active cell development in the eyes, which enhances vision and helps in preventing age-related medical conditions affecting the eyes such as macular degeneration. When used externally it helps remove the puffy bags that develop around the eyes due to excessive water retention. The swelling around the eyes lessens due to the water-rich content.
2. Aids in weight loss
Zucchini is low in calories and has a high water content and is rich in fiber. It provides a feeling of being full which helps reduce appetite and snacking.
3. Strengthens Teeth and Bones
Zucchini contains calcium and vitamin K helps build strong bones and teeth. The lutein and zeaxanthin in zucchini keep the bones and teeth strong. In addition, they also strengthen the blood cells.
4. Heart Health
Ever heard of DASH diet? Also called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, this diet is aimed at improving heart health by lowering hypertension. According to a report published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, zucchini is a prominent part of the DASH diet.
Zucchini is low in cholesterol, sodium, and fat, and helps maintain a balance of carbohydrates – a requirement for optimum heart health. Another reason zucchini works great for the heart is the presence of fiber. High intakes of fiber have been associated with significantly lower risks of developing stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
Zucchini is also rich in folate, and as per a Chinese study, folate intake is inversely associated with heart disease risk. The fact that it is rich in other nutrients like potassium and magnesium makes zucchini a superfood for the heart. Research has stated that deficiencies in the two nutrients can be directly linked to heart failure.
Another nutrient in zucchini that is worth your attention is riboflavin, which is a B-complex vitamin essential for energy production. In one study, children with cardiac disease were found to be shockingly deficient in riboflavin, emphasizing on the possible link between riboflavin and heart health. Another Chinese study has linked riboflavin with alleviated cardiac failure in diabetics.
Riboflavin deficiency is also linked to certain birth defects in pregnant women, especially issues with the outflow tracts in the infant’s heart
5. Controls Diabetes
The dietary fiber in zucchini delays glucose absorption and help the patients with type 2 diabetes. Higher fiber intake is also associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which is one of the factors contributing to diabetes. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, soluble fiber can improve glucose tolerance in diabetics.
6. Cures Asthma
The high levels of Vitamin C and the inflammatory properties of zucchini help cure asthma. Copper present is also effective in treating asthma.
7. Aids in digestion
The dietary fiber in zucchini adds bulk to the food and aids in digestion. The insoluble fiber, also known as ‘the regulator’, accelerates the passage of water through the digestive tract. This reduces the time available for harmful substances to come in contact with the intestinal walls
8. Regulates Blood Pressure
Zucchini has potassium which is a vasodilator which helps ease tension in the blood vessel walls thereby lowering blood presssure. Potassium lowers the heart rate and counters the harmful effects of sodium .
9. Skin Health
Zucchini contains lutein and zeaxanthin which protects the the skin from free radical damage, which may otherwise lead to premature aging.Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been found to lighten the skin and improve its health.
10. Improves Brain Functioning And Memory
Zucchini is rich in folate and are excellent for brain health. Folate also helps in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material. The nutrient, apart from improving mental health, also enhances emotional health.
11. Maintains Optimal Health
Already being an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C, zucchini is also the best source of dietary fiber that will keep your body in the best shape for the long run. It also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus. This summer squash also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and protein. Moreover, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, and calcium in zucchini assure optimal health. It is probably the best squash having an array of nutrients, including sugar, carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, minerals, amino acids, and more. The folate ingredient of this squash is highly recommended for pregnant women as well.
12. Promotes Men’s Health
Many researchers have taken extracts from this squash to conduct certain studies and concluded that this fruit has certain properties that effectively treat an ailment in men called BPH or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. BPH is a condition where the prostate gland becomes enlarged in an odd shape and size, which then can cause trouble with both sexual and urinary function. A good treatment of this is seen in combination with other foods that contain phytonutrients; zucchini is said to be extremely useful in decreasing BPH symptoms.
13. Prevents Diseases
Your overall health will surely improve if you consume zucchini regularly. It helps prevent all kinds of diseases in a general sense. Studies have already declared that fiber-rich foods help alleviate cancer conditions by washing away cancer-causing toxins from cells in the colon. The vitamin C, folate, and beta-carotene in zucchini help to protect these cells from the harmful chemicals that can lead to colon cancer. Beta-carotene and vitamin C also have anti-inflammatory properties, thereby naturally curing ailments like osteoarthritis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis, where swelling is immensely painful. The copper percentage in it also helps in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
14. Protects Cardiovascular System
It is rich in nutritional value, especially during the summer, when it delivers countless advantages to the body. The food ranking systems in zucchini-rich countries have declared that this squash has abundant levels of manganese and vitamin C that help to keep the heart strong.
During the research, most of these nutrients were found effective in the prevention of diabetic heart disease and atherosclerosis. The magnesium content notably reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In combination with potassium, magnesium also helps in reducing high blood pressure. The vitamin C and beta-carotene found in summer squash help in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol.
Oxidized cholesterol builds up on blood vessel walls, but these nutrients reduce the development of atherosclerosis. The vitamin folate is required by the body to eliminate an unsafe metabolic byproduct called homocysteine, which can result in heart attack and stroke if the levels rise too high. Its fiber content lowers high cholesterol levels as well, thereby helping to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart diseases due to diabetes.
15. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Zucchini is one of the few foods that are free of cholesterol, and hence you can include it in your cholesterol-lowering diet. Soluble fiber has been found to interfere with cholesterol absorption. This helps lower the bad cholesterol or LDL in the blood.
16. Protects Against Colon Cancer
Ah, it’s fiber again! The fiber in zucchini is the most important reason it can help in the treatment of colon cancer. The fiber does multiple things – it absorbs the excess water in the colon, retains enough moisture in the fecal matter, and helps it to pass smoothly out of the body. Because of all this, fiber works beautifully well in preventing colon cancer. Though precise knowledge about the subtypes of fiber (soluble or insoluble) in this aspect is important, dietary fiber as a whole has been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
As per a Los Angeles study, dietary fiber plays an important role in regulating the normal intestinal functioning and maintaining a healthy mucus membrane of the intestine. Though the exact amount of fiber and the type is still not clearly known, an expert panel from the study had recommended a fiber intake of 20 to 35 grams per day to prevent colon cancer.
The lutein in zucchini may also reduce the risk of colon cancer.
17. Slows Down Aging
Anti-aging is a big market today. No less than a billion dollar industry. But you probably wouldn’t have to contribute much to that segment if you have zucchinis in your kitchen. Zucchini is a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These two carotenoids exhibit powerful anti-aging properties. They protect the cells of the body and the skin from free radical damage, which may otherwise lead to premature aging. Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been found to lighten the skin and improve its health.
In a study, lutein was found to prevent cell loss and membrane damage. It also has photoprotective properties that protect the skin from UV damage. Zucchini is also rich in beta-carotene, the low levels of which were found to increase mortality risk in older men.
The riboflavin in zucchini maintains the health of the skin, hair, nails, and mucus membranes. It slows down aging by boosting athletic performance and preventing age-related memory loss and other related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, riboflavin was found to prolong the lifespan of fruit flies – indicating a similar possibility in human beings.
Zucchini, as we have seen, is rich in vitamin C. According to a South Korean study, the vitamin was found to decelerate aging in human heart cells. Also, vitamin C is found in high levels in the skin layers, the content of which sees a decline due to aging. Hence, intake of vitamin C appears to be a logical solution to slow down the signs of aging.
18. Helps Balance Thyroid And Adrenaline Function
Zucchini is rich in manganese, a mineral that promotes the optimal functioning of the thyroid gland.
19. Helps During Pregnancy
Dark green vegetables are a must during pregnancy, and zucchini is one of them. In the nine months of pregnancy, consuming zucchini offers adequate B-complex vitamins that help maintain the energy levels and mood. Zucchini is rich in folic acid that has shown to reduce the risk of certain birth defects like spina bifida (the baby’s spinal chord doesn’t develop properly) and anencephaly (absence of a major portion of the brain). As per a Canadian study, over 50 countries that have fortified their food staples with folic acid saw a dramatic decrease in neural tube defects in pregnant women.
One more reason folate is beneficial to pregnant women is its ability to produce red blood cells in the body. This is how it reduces the risk of developmental problems in the baby during pregnancy. It is important to keep in mind that folic acid (or folate) works best when taken before getting pregnant and during the first trimester. As women need additional folic acid during pregnancy, it is advisable to take a folic acid supplement as well. Around 400 mcg of folic acid per day is recommended for women in this aspect.
Another reason zucchini is good for pregnancy is its magnesium content. As per an Italian study, magnesium is very important for women with a high risk of gestosis or premature labor.
20. Good For Babies (And Kids)
Diarrhea is one common problem amongst most kids over one year of age. Oh yes, there will be medications. But changes in the diet can also help. Bland foods work well in this case. And peeled zucchini can do wonders.
Mashed zucchini can also be a good addition to your baby’s diet. Since it is soft and bland in taste (and since it comes replete with nutrients), your baby will be able to consume it easily. And here’s a tip – Never leave a baby alone when he/she is eating. Keep the portions small. And avoid those foods that he/she can easily choke on – these include everything that is hard to chew.
There is no need to emphasize on the negative effects smoking can have on pregnant women. But, what if a woman has been a smoker for a long time before getting pregnant and just can’t give the habit up? In one Portland study, the intake of vitamin C has been found to prevent lung problems in babies born to pregnant smokers. Zucchini, being rich in vitamin C, can help in this regard. By the way, this doesn’t mean it is okay to smoke during pregnancy. It simply isn’t. But, in case the idea of quitting smoking disturbs the mother more than smoking itself, this could be an alternative.
In another Denmark study, the deficiency of vitamin C was found to impair brain development in infants.
In fact, the importance of vitamin C for infants was discovered way back in the early 1900s. Studies conducted back then stressed upon the significance of vitamin C in preventing scurvy in infants. Dr. F.R. Klenner, between 1948-49, cured every polio case in children with vitamin C, and vitamin C only. Of course, polio is eradicated today. This is just to show how important vitamin C (which zucchini is extremely rich in) has been in the development of humanity.
According to an American study, deficiency of folate during infancy can put the kids at a higher risk of depression in their adulthood.
21. Helps Prevent Gout
Zucchini’s vitamin C grabs the spotlight, yet again. One study has linked vitamin C intake with a lower risk of gout in men. It achieves this by lowering serum uric acid levels via a process called the uricosuric effect. The vitamin was also found to prevent not just gout, but numerous other urate-related diseases as well.
You can also intake zucchini to complement your gout treatment or if your treatment isn’t working well. And with respect to the vitamin C dosage in this regard, talk to your doctor.
Including zucchini in your diet can help prevent gout. And it’s pretty easy as well – as its mild taste combines properly with most recipes.
Though gout generally affects men over the age of 40 or anyone with a family history of the disease, it can occur anytime. To anyone. It is caused due to the excessive build-up of uric acid in the body, leading to its accumulation in tissues in the form of needle-shaped crystals. But, worry not – apart from taking zucchini and other foods rich in vitamin C, something as simple as drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water daily can prevent gout.
22. Promotes Prostate Health
When it comes to men’s health, zucchini is one of the vegetables that is often overlooked. But, seldom does one know that its phytonutrients greatly benefit the prostate. The high carotenoid content of zucchini also associates it with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
We have seen that zucchini is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. Both of these nutrients, as per a study, were found to be positively associated with prostate cancer. Vitamin C reduces oxidative DNA damage and hampers the growth and ability of prostate cancer cells.
And we have lutein in zucchin too. As per a report published by the University of California San Francisco, lutein is inversely associated with prostate cancer.
Dietary fiber has been found to bind with carcinogens and eliminate them from the body. It also has the ability to prevent prostate cancer progression. And phytonutrients protect the cells from damage. Both of these healthful compounds are abundant in zucchini, making it a powerful weapon to combat prostate cancer.
23. Aids Collagen Formation
As we have seen, zucchini contains riboflavin, whose deficiency was found to affect the maturation of collagen. One more reason zucchini can be great for the skin is its high water content – which has been found to enhance skin health tremendously.
The vitamin C in the squash plays a major part in the synthesis of collagen, which, as we know, is quite important to maintain the health of joints, cartilage, skin, and blood vessels. The vitamin also protects the body from cellular damage. In addition to collagen, vitamin C also helps in the production of elastin, both of which are essential for radiant and healthy skin.
Apart from vitamin C, a few other nutrients that contribute to collagen formation are potassium, zeaxanthin, and folat. And, like we have seen, zucchini is replete with these. We have seen vitamin C can slow down aging. But did you know that it is collagen that keeps the skin firm and protects it from wrinkles?
24. Improves Brain Functioning And Memory
Green foods, especially zucchini, are rich in folate and are excellent for brain health. Folate also helps in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material. The nutrient, apart from improving mental health, also enhances emotional health.
The deficiency of folate is linked to megaloblastic anemia, which results in weakness and fatigue. Increased folate intake has been linked to reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in women.
Also, our brain is 75% water. When there is adequate water in your system, you will be more focused, think quick, and also display greater creativity. More importantly, sufficient water efficiently delivers nutrients to your brain and aids toxin removal. This results in enhanced concentration and mental alertness. Zucchini, apart from being rich in water, also contains vitamin C, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids – all of which largely contribute to brain health.
Though not very rich in iron, zucchini contains the nutrient in acceptable amounts. As per a study, early iron deficiency can lead to permanent neurobehavioral problems despite diagnosis and treatment. Early iron deficiency can even affect the brain’s physical structure. Iron is also important for producing myelin, the fatty sheath that coats the brain’s nerves and accelerates brain communications.
25. Promotes Hair Growth
Zucchini, being rich in zinc, promotes hair growth. The vitamin C in zucchini can treat dry and splitting hair. It also makes your hair strands strong and supple. Lack of vitamin C can result in the enlargement of hair follicles, which might eventually stall hair growth. But, with zucchini by your side, that shouldn’t be a problem.
How to buy Zucchini?
When you buy zucchini, ensure that it is young and sweet in taste. The zucchini squash that has flowers attached are fresh and juicy. Also, check if the one you are buying is sleek, smooth, and firm and has bright-colored skin. It is always advisable to store it in perforated plastic bags inside a refrigerator drawer. Try not to keep this fruit stored for more than 3 days, since it can get damaged in overly cold temperatures. If damaged, you will notice hollow pits in the skin surface of the fruit.
How to cook Zucchini?
95% of zucchini is water, so when it’s cooked, water will ooze out. Therefore, you need to salt the zucchinis first and then allow the excess water to get drained out before the preparation is done. While you are eating this fruit, do not remove the skin because it comprises the important nutrient beta-carotene, the vitamin component acting as an antioxidant, thereby protecting cells from oxidation damage. The edible flowers of zucchini are often used in French and Italian cooking.
One of the easiest ways of having zucchini is by sprinkling grated zucchini or other varieties of summer squash on salads and sandwiches. You can also add it to your favorite bread recipe; thereby reducing the amount of liquid in the recipe, since the zucchini is compensating for moisture in a different way.
As you know, eating enough fruits and vegetables is important, so if you include zucchini in your diet, you are actually keeping your body healthy, well-hydrated, and toxin-free in the long run. It is undoubtedly one of the most healthy food choices which is easy to consume in different and delicious forms.
Difference Between Zucchini And Cucumber
When you hold a zucchini and cucumber in either hand, it can often be difficult to tell the difference. Despite this visual similarity, they are actually quite different. They have different flavors and consistencies, respond differently to cooking and contain different types of nutrients. As a result, their potential health benefits are also slightly different. Fortunately, both are packed with various nutrients and can be safely included in any diet!
Difference between Zucchini and Cucumber
The major differences between zucchini and cucumber include variations in taste, consistency, food group designation, physical characteristics, and nutrient content.
In terms of taste, raw zucchini is slightly bitter, but it takes on a sweet flavor when it is cooked. Cucumber is refreshing and cool when eaten raw, partially due to its high water content. When you cook cucumber, the mild flavor all but disappears, and it becomes slightly soft.
There is a great deal of debate about where these two foods belong in terms of food groups. There is a general consensus that both cucumbers and zucchinis are fruits, given that they both contain seeds and are developed from a flower. However, zucchini is usually classified as a vegetable for nutritionists and dietitians, while cucumbers are flexibly referred to as both fruits and vegetables.
There are quite a few differences between zucchini and cucumber, beginning with their outer skin. Cucumbers tend to be cold and waxy to the touch, whereas zucchinis are more commonly rough and dull, lacking the sheen of a cucumber. Furthermore, zucchinis are technically a form of summer squash and can grow up to a foot in length, or even longer. Cucumbers tend to have a limit to their growth, but when zucchinis are harvested early, the size difference between the two is negligible.
Inside the zucchini, the flesh is basically white, but the soft flesh of a cucumber has a light green tinge. Cucumber seeds are also long and smooth, but zucchini seeds are short and wide. Finally, woody stems can often be found on zucchinis, whereas stems are not present on cucumbers.
In raw form, zucchinis have a much denser consistency, making it unpleasant to eat raw, in most cases. Cucumbers, on the other hand, have soft and meaty flesh that is both refreshing and easy to bite through. After being cooked, cucumbers soften and wilt, but still retain some crunch. Zucchinis, on the other hand, will begin to brown, sweeten, and get crispy. The flesh will also be significantly softened and easy to eat.
Cucumber and zucchini are both rich in certain key minerals and nutrients, but zucchini generally has higher concentrations. Zucchini has slightly more protein and fiber, as well as manganese, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. It also has slightly more calories (19 calories per cup of zucchini vs. 16 calories per cup of cucumber).
How Are Zucchini and Cucumber Cooked?
The primary difference in how these two vegetables are prepared is that zucchini is typically cooked, while cucumber is more often eaten raw. While cucumbers can be cooked, their already mild flavor is often lost, but they do tend to retain a crunch. Cucumbers are also popular in canning and pickling and are considered refreshing and deliciously cold when eaten raw. If you do want to eat cucumbers, they can be added to stir-frys.
Zucchinis, on the other hand, have a slightly bitter and starchy taste when eaten raw, so they are almost always cooked. They can easily get browned up or even crispy when fried. You can make zucchini chips, or even use this vegetable as a replacement for pasta if you are trying to cut down on carbs. When preparing or cooking either of these two vegetables, be sure to keep the skin on. Many of the most important nutrients are found in the skin, so don’t peel zucchini and cucumber before enjoying them!
Zucchini Healthy Recipes
Zucchini (a type of summer squash) is a great vegetable that boasts a number of health benefits and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Zucchini’s high water content (95 percent) makes it a very low calorie vegetables (only 17 calories per 100 g/one small zucchini) It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, is packed with Vitamin C, A, folate, magnesium, protein and fiber.
In addition, zucchini contains more than three times the potassium of the average potassium supplement, which helps in muscle growth and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Overall, nutrients found in zucchini promote bone health, heart health, healthy weight and aid in cancer prevention.
The best way to eat zucchini is to consume is raw. However, salads and raw dishes are not the only way to enjoy this healthy summer squash. You can add zucchini to your muffins and cakes, soups, tacos and other entrees. The possibilities are literally endless!
Creamy Zucchini-Cashew Soup
- 3 Tbsp. coconut oil or raw butter
- 6 cups sliced zucchini
- 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. celery seeds, ground (optional)
- ½ green bell pepper, sliced
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1½ cups cashews, toasted (optional)
- ½ tsp. salt
- Melt the coconut oil or butter in a large soup pot. Add the celery seeds, zucchini, celery, bell pepper, and salt.
- Stir, cover, and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Puree the cashews in the vegetable stock in a blender or food processor.
- Combine the vegetables and the cashew-stock mixture in a blender. Puree thoroughly.
- Place a large sieve (wire mesh strainer) over the soup pot.* Strain the vegetable-cashew mixture through it, stirring, and pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Scrape bottom of sieve frequently. This step allows the soup to become creamy.
- Discard the remaining “material” that pulls from the sieve.
- Reheat the soup to serving temperature.
- This recipe makes six servings.
*If using cashew butter, mix in the cashew butter after the third step and reheat in soup pot.
Raw Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce
Raw pasta dishes will leave you feeling so refreshed and at your best; they are perfect for the warm summer months. Feel free to omit the cucumber in this recipe and add an extra avocado if you like for variations (you may like to add a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil if you do). You can even add some arugula to the puree instead of using basil. Lots of ways to change it up and keep it fresh!
- 1 large zucchini (1 per person)
- grape, cherry or mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
- jalapeno, thinly sliced and seeds removed (optional)
- pea shoots (optional)
- zest of one meyer lemon or regular lemon
- Avocado-Cucumber Puree
- 1 medium avocado
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thick
- a few large leaves of basil (optional)
- 1 meyer lemon or regular lemon, juice of
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper or black pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- Prepare your zucchini noodles julienne style or spiralized. Or alternately, cook your pasta of choice, about 8 ounces.
- For the puree, place all ingredients into a food processor/blender and process until creamy.
- Taste for flavor adding anything extra you might like.
- Toss zucchini pasta with avocado-cucumber puree and a handful of arugula.
- Serve with tomatoes, peas shoots, jalapenos, lemon zest, lemon wedges and fresh cracked pepper.
Raw Zucchini Wraps
These raw zucchini wraps are not only super healthy but they’re refreshing, filling, easy and fun to make! And so colorful too. All these vibrant colors are good for you…full of antioxidents, nutrients, fiber and yes, even protein! Fresh and raw is a beautiful way to eat. At least half of our daily food consumption should be raw foods for optimal health, not always easy, but hopefully this will be a fun way to add some rawness to your life. Your mind, body and soul will thank you!
For the wraps
- 1-3 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
- A few small carrots, julienned
- Sprouts/micro greens of choice
- Cilantro, optional
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Toothpicks, to hold the wraps together
For The Kale Pesto
- 1 cup basil or kale
- 1 cup kale
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons tahini, optional
- 3 tablespoons or so extra virgin olive oil (if not using tahini add 1 or 2 extra tablespoons olive oil)
- Himalayan salt, to taste
- Amounts here will vary on how many you’re making, use your best judgement on how much you will need. If you can’t find sprouts or micro greens, try using cilantro or fresh basil leaves.
- For the kale pesto, place ingredients into food processor and process until desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.
- Lay your zucchini flat on a hard surface, layer with the pesto, add sprouts, and vegetables, then starting from the vegetable end, roll and stick with a toothpick in the center. Top with cracked pepper and serve.
Spicy Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles
The pesto pairs great with the zucchini noodles, especially with a nice dusting of almond parmesan.
For The Noodles
- 2 zucchini per person, give or take, spiralized or julienned
- Grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- Almond Parmesan, for topping
- Salt and cracked pepper, to taste
For The Pesto
- 1 bunch kale, about 3-4 cups, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 3-4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt, or to taste
- A pinch or two of red pepper flakes
- Juice of 1 small lemon (optional)
- Start with the pesto, place ingredients in food processor and blend until desired consistency. Add more olive oil if desired and taste for seasoning, set aside.
- I use a spiralizer to get my curly noodle effect. You can also use a julienne tool or julienne them by hand creating a straight noodle.
- Combine the kale, tomatoes and noodles together in a medium size bowl and transfer to individual serving dishes. Top with some almond parmesan and serve.
Flourless Tofu-Zucchini Muffins
These muffins are light but nevertheless filling. Perfect for brunch, light dinner or buffet.
- 7 ounces firm tofu
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp soy milk
- 1/2 tbsp curcuma
- 1/2 zucchini
- 1/4 red bell-pepper
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
- Wash, peel and grate the zucchini. Chop the bell-pepper finely.
- Using a blender, blend together tofu, tahini, soymilk and curcuma.
- Stir the zucchini an bell-pepper in the tofu-mixture. Add salt and herbs (optionally) to taste.
- Spoon the muffins-mix equally into the muffin-forms (preferably silicon) and put them in the oven.
- Start checking after 10 minutes. The muffins are ready when the middle is set and the top is light-golden. The baking time may vary from 10 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Tacos
You will love the mix of this spicy zucchini with the cooling tomatoes and avocado. If you want a heartier meal, these are perfect with some marinated tempeh. And if you don’t have tortillas for wrapping, sauteed spicy zucchini and fresh tomato also make the perfect stand-alone salad.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- red chili pepper flakes to taste
- freshly-ground sea salt and pepper to taste
- 8 medium (or 12 small) whole wheat or corn tortillas
- 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, de-stremmed and chopped
- 1 avocado, pitted, skinned, and sliced
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- Add the olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini, garlic, paprika, oregano, and chili powder. Saute for 5 minutes, flipping zucchini, until both sides are evenly browned. Add red chili pepper flakes, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Distribute zucchini evenly among the tortillas. Top with fresh tomato slices, cilantro, avocado slices, and red onion slices. Serve immediately.
Individual Chocolate Espresso Cake…with Zucchini!
What happens when Zucchini is mixed with chocolate and turned into a cake? The result: a moist, rich chocolate espresso cake that you will blow your mind!
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 small zucchini, grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp instant coffee
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 2 half pint mason jars or similar sized baking dish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil two half pint mason jars.
- In a medium sized bowl combine wet ingredients (oil, sugar, molasses, flax egg, instant coffee, vanilla, and zucchini), stirring together until uniformly mixed.
- In a separate bowl combine the dries (flour, baking soda and powder, and salt). Add dries to wet and mix together. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chip.
- Fill 1/2 pint jars between 2/3 and 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until knife comes out clean. Allow cake to cool at least 30 minutes before removing from jar.
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Zucchini is the perfect addition to these chocolate chip muffins. They straddle the line between savory and sweet – you could certainly choose these for dessert, but they’d also work well slathered with nut butters or a buttery spread.
- 2 cups gluten-free flour
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup mashed banana
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips, chunks or cacao nibs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, coconut milk, applesauce, vanilla and zucchini. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and make sure that everything is incorporated.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Evenly divide the batter into a 12-cup muffin tin (either grease it with coconut oil and dust it with flour, or use muffin liners). Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are firm and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let the muffins cool completely on a wire rack.
Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce
This zucchini has a classic-style sauce, but the addition of Brazil nuts or walnuts gives it a non-traditional crunch.
- 4 medium zucchini
- 1 tsp + 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
- 20 sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water until soft (about 30 minutes)
- 1⁄2 cup tomato soak water
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 2 heaping tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp raisins
- 1 tbsp hemp oil
- 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts or chopped Brazil nuts
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Trim the ends of the squash. Using a hand-held vegetable peeler, carefully strip the squash, layer by layer, into noodle-like pieces and gather into a colander (for best results, discard the watery center section that holds the seeds).
- Toss squash strips with 1 tsp of sea salt and place the colander over a large bowl to catch excess moisture. Let rest for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, wash the squash thoroughly with warm water to remove any excess salt, and let drain for 5 more minutes.
- In a food processor, blend together the sundried tomatoes, 1⁄2 cup soak water, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, raisins, hemp oil, and 1⁄2 tsp of sea salt into a chunky paste.
- Add the nuts and pulse a few times to chop the nuts finely (but do not blend).
- Toss the sauce with the zucchini strips and sauté over medium-low heat for
- 1–2 minutes to warm through.
Zucchini Blueberry Muffins
If you are looking for a recipe that is a great mix between summer and fall, this is it! You can use the last of your soft-skinned zucchini and sweet blueberries, but also feel comforted by scent of cinnamon and filling whole wheat. These are muffins that even the most stubborn omnivore will love, believe me, I tested them! Feed them to your children to sneak in more vegetables and fruit under a tasty breakfast guise.
- 3 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed Meal
- 1 ¼ Warm Water
- ¾ Cup Coconut Oil, Melted
- 1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Organic or Raw Sugar
- 2 Cups Shredded Zucchini
- 3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 tsp. Sea Salt
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
- ½ Cup Pecans, Chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside two cupcake/muffin pans with papers or reusable silicon holders inserted into place.
- Mix warm water with ground flaxseed in a small bowl and set aside for ten minutes, stirring together occasionally until it is a watery gel-like consistency. Add melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sugar to the flaxseed and water. Press most of the moisture out of the shredded zucchini and stir it into the wet mixture.
- In a large bowl mix/sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together. Combine wet mixture to this dry mixture and combine evenly, add in a little more water if you think the batter is too thick; fold in blueberries and pecans.
- Scoop batter into muffin cups with an ice cream scoop, fill them almost all the way full. Bake for 23-27 minutes, or until tooth pick comes out clean.
Minty Zucchini n’ Strawberry Chilled Soup
Just a pinch of fresh mint from the garden is all you need to spruce up this fresh summer soup. A bit of zucchini and some fresh strawberries, a lil’ balsamic vinegar, a few Jersey fresh tomatoes, some freshly squeezed orange juice, and you’re all set! A sweet n’ simple, gluten-free n’ vegan chilled soup that will cool you off even on the hottest July day. So, as your frazzled in your kitchen, sweating away … wondering what to make for next BBQ? Take a break, make this soup and relax. It will make you feel so much better. Then, you can stress and start planning your BBQ for the weekend. Sips up. Here’s to a refreshing and cooling way to spend your day.
- 5 plum tomatoes
- 2 large zucchinis, chopped
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, covered.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Serve chilled.
Zucchini Vs Courgette
The reason why zucchini and courgette are being put into much confusion is because they come from one family of vegetables; both summer squash veggies belonging to the cucurbit vegetable family (Cucurbita pepo). Their colors vary because some are yellow whereas others are green.
The etymology of the zucchini vegetable comes from the Italian word zucchino, which literally means a tiny squash or undeveloped marrow. On the contrary, courgette is obviously of French origin. It can also be regarded as the French term counterpart for the word zucchini itself.
Moreover, Zucchini and courgette are the same plant vegetables but are different terms used depending on the dominant language of a specific country. The first is usually used in territories rich in English, which is Northern American or Australian in nature. The latter is being used for French and British English users, as well as, the English speaking public who resides in New Zealand and South Africa.
Zucchini and courgette are different from each although they pertain to the same vegetable family that is growing in its various stages of development. In this regard, the market has made a standard definition for both veggies. During its infant growth, these baby plants can already be harvested after reaching a dimension of about 14 by 4 centimeters in length. This size is actually comparable to how small a typical cigar is. At this point, this veggie is best termed as a courgette.
In the latter part of this vegetable’s growth, it can already be regarded as a zucchini after growing some more as it grows to about 15-20 centimeters. This veggie is preferably served cooked contrary to its cucumber counterpart. Lastly, there is also another term for this same plant that has almost matured and has reached its maximum size. At this time, it is already more suitable to call it a marrow. Overall, courgettes are smaller and younger whereas zucchinis are older and bigger in size.
- One zucchini is called zucchina. (Ouch! We were wrong all the while!)
- The world’s largest zucchini was 69 1/2 inches long and weighed close to 30 kilos.
- Zucchini is the only fruit that starts with the letter Z.
- The most flavorful of zucchinis are usually small and have darker skin.
- Even the flower of the zucchini plant is edible. You can fry the zucchini blossoms into a delicacy.
- And lastly, the word zucchini comes from ‘zucca’, which is the Italian word for squash.
- All good. But, tomorrow when you go the market, how do you even know which is good zucchini and which is not? That’s why…
How to select zucchini
Zucchini is usually picked and sold even before it matures. Hence, the seeds and skin are tender, and you can cook it even without peeling. This is why the zucchini must be clean and blemish-free. You must be able to pierce the skin easily with your fingernail. Also, ensure the zucchini you select is small to medium in size. No more than 6 to 8 inches. Must be free of pricks and cuts. Much better if it has one inch of stem attached. Avoid longer or bigger zucchini.
How to store zucchini
Zucchini must be stored in a refrigerator. Remember to wrap it tightly. Now we talk about freezing zucchini. If you want to freeze zucchini, choose the one with tender skin. Wash and slice it and scald for 3 minutes. Cool and drain and then pack it in a freezer container. You can also freeze shredded zucchini, provided you do it immediately.
If you are planning to grow zucchini in your backyard, you must remember that it grows best when surrounded by mulch, which keeps the soil moist. You also need to add two inches of water every week for the plant to thrive. Once you have picked the right zucchini, what do you do? Simple. Enjoy it in your diet.
How To Prepare Zucchini?
If you are wondering how to use zucchini? Then, don’t worry! Here are fews ways to cook zucchini:
1. As a healthy snack
Simply take raw zucchini sticks and snack on them with your favorite dip. You can also pack them in your lunchbox for a healthy afternoon snack.
2. Mashed Zucchini
Wondering what to use as a side dish for your meal? Zucchini! Steam it and mash it. You can then puree this with other root vegetables and serve. Much better (and healthier) than mashed potatoes!
3. Grilled Zucchini
Who said only meat can be thrown on the grill? Slice zucchini into 1/2-inch thick disks, brush them with cooking oil (heat tolerant), and season as you desire.
4. Stuffed Zucchini
Pretty simple. Cut the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the insides. Fill the empty zucchini cups with chopped vegetables, meat, and cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes at 190o C, or until they turn golden brown. Serve while hot.
5. Use in salads
Make your salad healthier by adding zucchini to it. If you have some leftover zucchini after a grill-out, you can simply add it to your salad.
This was about how to eat zucchini in so many smart ways. All good. But, what about babies? How about them?
How To Make Zucchini For Baby
We have already seen somewhere in this article why zucchini can be wonderful for babies. It has a mild flavor. It is soft to chew. And it offers super good nutrients. But, remember this – zucchini, particularly because of its skin, can cause a bit of stomach upset in some individuals. Hence, you must wait till your baby is eating stage 2 foods, which would happen when (s)he is around 8 months old.
In case your child is prone to stomach upsets, peel the zucchini before cooking and observe how your child receives it. If things are alright, you can try with the skin the next time.
Here is how you can cook zucchini for your child:
- Select a zucchini with a firm and shiny skin. It must be free of bruises and any other visible damage. Keep it unwashed in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator (until you are ready to cook it, which would usually be up to 4-5 days).
- Divide the zucchini widthwise into half. Prepare the zucchini one half at a time. You can keep the second half back in the refrigerator until you want to use it next time.
- Slice the end of the zucchini. Wash it thoroughly under a stream of cold water.
- Cut it into thin slices.
- Take a saucepan with cold water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the sliced zucchini to it. Once the water boils, decrease the heat to medium.
- Keep boiling the zucchini until it turns tender (this should take about 10 minutes).
- Drain the water and transfer the boiled zucchini into a food processor. Process it until it is completely pureed.
- You can add a little cold water if it appears too thick.
- Wait till the puree cools before you feed it to your little one. You can store the leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- You can prepare the other half of zucchini in a similar way.
- However, it’s always best to consult your baby’s pediatrician before introducing new foods in his/her diet.
That was for the babies. But what about us adults? Read on for some of the most sumptuous zucchini recipes you will ever find.
Things You Should Know About Zucchini
If you want a veggie that’s extremely versatile, look no further than zucchini. Whether eaten raw or cooked, there’s so many ways to enjoy it and still get a solid amount of a few vitamins and minerals you need. Zucchini actually falls under the umbrella of summer squash, which are squashes that getÂ harvested before their rinds hardenâunlike, say, pumpkins and butternut squash. In honor of National Zucchini Day, here are some other fun facts about this veggie that may surprise you.
You can eat the blossoms
Even though zucchini is served as a vegetable, it’s technically a fruit because it comes from a flower: it grows from a golden blossom that blooms under the leaves. They don’t normally sell the blooms in the grocery store, but you can find them at farmers’ markets. And these beauties aren’t just for looking atâyou can eat them, too. The most popular way to prepare them is fried or stuffed, butÂ our friends at Sunset magazine have a unique salad recipe to try. Check out Squash Blossom, Avocado, and Butter Lettuce Salad.
You can substitute it for pasta
Sure, you canÂ addÂ zucchini to your spaghetti recipes, but you can also use it in place of noodles altogether. So-called “zoodles” are a great pasta alternative, and they’re easy to make with the help of some kitchen gadgets. With a mandolin or a spiral slicer, you secure the zucchini on prongs and push the veggie toward the blades. Not only does it make things easy, but it’s also kind of coolÂ to see dozens of noodles cranked out at once. A smaller and less expensive option is a julienne peeler, which has a serrated blade to create thin strips.
It’s not always green
You may be used to seeing a vegetable that’s green and speckled, but there’s a yellow variety of zucchini, and it’s easy to confuse with yellow squash, a different type. (That’s yellow zucchini in the photo above). The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the shape. Yellow squash usually has a tapered neck, either crooked or straight, whereas zucchini of any color looks like a cylinder from end to end. Though not much is known about the difference between the varieties, some say golden zucchini hasÂ a sweeter flavor than the green kind. Because it retains its color after cooking, it also makes a sunnyÂ addition to any dish.
It has an international pedigree
Italians are thought to have bred modern zucchini from the squash they picked up in colonial Americaâzucca is actually the Italian word for squash. That’s why you’ll see zucchini referred to as “Italian squash” in some recipes.Â Still, both summer squash has been around for quite some time. The cropÂ dates back to 5500 B.C. where it was integral in the diets of people living inÂ Central America and South America,Â according to theÂ University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. (And if you’re in Europe, it may appear on menus as “courgette.”)
Zucchini Negative Effects
1. Digestive issues
Zucchini might cause digestive issues in people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In such a case, consume it with caution. Or avoid it altogether. Bitter zucchini might also cause stomach cramps or diarrhea or both.
Zucchini might cause allergies in individuals who are sensitive to it. These include nausea, pruritus (severe skin itching), and certain kinds of oral allergies.
Yes, this can be contradictory to what we spoke before in the article. Iron does help prevent brain ailments. But studies suggest that too much of it can cause neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s. Though iron is not abundant in zucchini, it still is better to consider its effects.
4. Excessive beta-carotene
Since zucchini is a very good source of beta-carotene, this could be a concern for certain individuals. Large doses of beta-carotene might be inadvisable for pregnant and lactating women, people who smoke (beta-carotene supplements), people who have been exposed to asbestos (beta-carotene supplements), and individuals who have undergone angioplasty.
Beta-carotene might also interact with medications – especially the ones used for lowering cholesterol and other medicines like niacin. These side effects need to worry you in case you happen to take zucchini in excess. Otherwise, it sure is a wonder-food. And now, sit back and entertain yourselves with these super facts about zucchini.