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Apr 06

Health Foods A-Z: Zucchini

I have arrived at the final post of my series on health foods. And Z is for Zucchini. Called ‘tori’ in Hindi and squash in English, this is not a fruit loved by all. The taste and texture is not very popular but its nutritional properties make it a great ingredient in the kitchen. Also, it can be cooked in a way that allows you to enjoy it. In fact, even the zucchini flower is edible! Zucchini flower is also an ingredient for soap.

Zucchini is a low calorie fruit (only 25 calories in one zucchini) with no saturated fat or cholesterol. The peel is a good source of dietary fiber, that is great for digestion. It also has anti-oxidants such as carotene that help fight aging, and is great for weight reduction and cholesterol control. In fact, it is often recommended by dieticians for these reasons. Zucchini is also a great source of potassium, which is good for the heart and blood pressure and counters harmful effects of sodium. In fact, one zucchini has more potassium than a banana. Fresh zucchini is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It is also low in sodium, which makes it all the more healthy.

Zucchini is available all year round, but the best supply is around summer. When selecting, pick bright green, shiny and firm ones. The best and most flavorful zucchinis are small to mid sized. Ignore superficial scratches and mild bruises but beware of overly mature, large ones with pitted skin or those that are flabby or have a spongy texture. Also, avoid those with soft and wrinkled ends as this means that the fruit is dehydrated and has been lying on the shelf for a while. Since these fruits have a thin skin, prefer organic ones. However, it should not be stored for more than three days in the refrigerator.

The most popular way of consuming zucchini is in zucchini bread. However, it can be used just like any other vegetable. In fact, it is a great low calorie substitute for potato. While it may look a lot like cucumber, it can be served cooked unlike cucumber. Also, the skin is not removed since it has a lot of nutrition.

As always, I have provided an easy recipe below to enable you to use this fruit in your meals.

Ingredients

1 lb or about 1/2 kg of zucchini, washed well and chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup tomato puree

2 tsp. ginger, shredded

1 tsp garlic, shredded

Salt to taste

1 tbsp. coriander powder

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chilly powder

1/2 cup yogurt

2 tbsp. oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add cumin seeds and sauté for 30 seconds. Add onion and allow to cook till onions turn golden brown. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds. Add tomato puree and then add turmeric, red chilly powder, salt and coriander powder. Mix well and cook till oil starts separating. Add the zucchini and mix well. Add about 1/2 cup water. Wait for water to come to a boil and then cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the yogurt and cook for another 5-7 minutes. The zucchini is ready. Serve hot.

This post is part of a series on health foods. I have previously written about Avocado, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Dates, Eggs, Fennel, Green chickpeas or chholiya, Honey, Iceberg lettuce, Jackfruit, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Milk, Nectarine, Olives, Peas, the alphabet Q, Radish, Spinach, Tomato, the letter U, Vinegar, Water Chestnut, Xacuti Chicken and Yogurt

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