Summer time means summer squash, and zucchini is one of our favorite summer squashes at HealthBarn USA. It may look like a cucumber, but zucchini is much sweeter and has a creamier, less watery texture. We love its sweet, summery, flavor and, of course, we love its health benefits! One cup of chopped raw zucchini with the skin is an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin and B6, plus the mineral manganese.
Zucchini is grown easily from seed. We plant it in early spring, give it plenty of water, and by early summer it’s ready to harvest. There are a lot of different varieties to choose from beside the standard selection in the supermarket. We grow the traditional Italian heirloom Costata Romanesco because of it’s beautiful stripe of green and white and its delicate flavor. Italians really know how to grow amazing veggies! Zucchini plants have big green stalks that shoot out from the main plant, and zucchini fruits (yes, technically they’re fruits because they have seeds and come out of the plant’s flower, which is edible, too!) that grow close to the ground. The flowers make delicious—and beautiful—toppings for salads!
Zucchini is good for munching raw like a cucumber, slicing and grilling, or sautéing with other summer veggies. Remember to keep the skin on, as that’s where the dietary fiber and other nutrients are stored. It’s also wonderful sliced into ribbons and lightly dressed as a raw salad. But without a doubt, one of the most popular zucchini preparations among kids at HealthBarn USA is our recipe for Zucchini Sticks from Appetite for Life! This healthy twist on a French fry is sure to turn any kid or adult into a zucchini lover!
From Appetite for Life by Stacey Antine, MS, RD
Zucchini fries? Yes! We use zucchini instead of potato and cover it in panko breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs. Then, we bake these instead of frying, making them low in saturated fat. You can truly enjoy these delicious “fries,” a good source of vitamin C, without the guilt. This recipe works very well with eggplant, too. Experiment with that or any one of your favorite veggies.
3 medium zucchini (10-12 ounces each)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1½ cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease large baking sheet.
- Cut each zucchini lengthwise in half; scoop out seeds. Cut each half zucchini crosswise in half, then cut into ¼ -inch-wide sticks.
- In pie plate or bowl, whisk egg and egg white until blended. In another pie plate or bowl, stir together panko, Parmesan, flaxseeds, parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Dip zucchini into egg mixture, then into panko mixture to coat. Place zucchini on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake zucchini until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes, turning over halfway through baking.
Makes 12 servings (1/2 cup per serving).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 70 calories; 2.5g fat (0.5g sat fat, 1g mono, 1g poly, 0g trans fats); 20mg cholesterol; 8g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 1g sugar); 4g protein; 100mg sodium; 4% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 15% DV vitamin C; 4% DV calcium; 2% DV iron.
What’s your favorite way to prepare zucchini?
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.