Squash the rumors about zucchini!

Sliced zucchini on a cutting board with text
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This blog post was written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic student, Shelby Holt.

With the rising trends surrounding ‘zoodles, this famous squash is growing more popular every day! Zucchini is a low-calorie summer squash, free of sodium, cholesterol, and fat. It is grown and prepared best from June through October. While most people would consider zucchini a vegetable because of the way we cook, prepare, and eat it, zucchini is botanically considered a fruit!

This mysterious squash can be prepared in many ways. Whether you are steaming, boiling, grilling, sautéing, or even eating it raw - zucchini is delicious! I have always enjoyed zoodles. They are a great alternative to heavier pastas and can be a delicious way to incorporate vegetables into meals, especially for picky eaters. Because zucchini has a milder flavor, it pairs well with a variety of spices including garlic, rosemary, basil, or oregano.

When shopping for zucchini, make sure you are examining the skin. The perfect zucchini will have shinny skin with small prickles on the outside. Additionally, pay attention to the firmness - it should be firm with no cuts or bruises. Store zucchini in a perforated plastic bag, ideally in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator. Zucchini is best used within three to four days, however, drying and freezing are additional options as well.

 

Zucchini Carrot Bread

To use frozen grated zucchini in bread, thaw the package in a pan of cold water, squeeze out excess water and proceed with the recipe. Omit the carrot and substitute 1/2 cup zucchini or other squash, if desired.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Powdered Sugar (optional)

Wash hands with soap and water. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, add the oil, grated zucchini, and grated carrots. Mix well. Add the zucchini mixture and nuts to the flour mixture. Stir only until all the flour is incorporated. Do not over mix or the bread will be dry and chewy. Scrape the batter into a well-greased 9-inch bread pan and bake in a preheated 375° oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack or plate. Serve warm or cool and dust with powdered sugar. Makes one 9-inch loaf.

Yield: 16 servings 

Nutrition Facts (per serving without powdered sugar): 180 calories, 10 grams fat, 140 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams protein

 

Sources:

Zucchini. University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Extension. 

Watch Your Garden Grow: Summer Squash & Zucchini. University of Illinois Extension.

Vary Your Veggies: Lesson Plan Grades 2-3 (PDF, 270KB). SNAP-Ed. Iowa Nutrition Network and Iowans Fit for Life. 

Zucchini: Nutrition. Selection. Storage. Produce for Better Health Foundation.