Remember when “zoodles” wasn’t even a word in our vocabulary? The spiralizer kitchen gadget changed everything for zucchini, turning this humble summer squash from a low-key side dish to a trendy main course you can twirl on your fork like spaghetti. Here are six things you should know about zucchini:
It’s super low in calories. A cup of zucchini noodles, aka “zoodles”, has just 20 calories, compared to more than 200 calories per cup of regular pasta. I’ve got nothing against pasta (read: No, Pasta Isn’t Bad For You), but by adding zucchini noodles to regular noodles, you’ll nab a much larger portion without adding many calories--plus snag a couple of veggie servings in the process. Don’t have a fun spiralizer gadget? You can make zucchini “ribbons” with a regular vegetable peeler.
It’s full of water. Zucchini is among the fruits and veggies that are more than 90 percent water by weight. That makes it hydrating--and filling. Foods with a high water volume, like zucchini, have been shown to naturally cause a feeling of fullness.
It’s got some nutritional cred. It may not top any “superfood” lists, but the squash has a decent amount of vitamin C (one cup of zucchini has almost a quarter of the C you need in a day) plus some potassium, a mineral that most Americans don’t get enough of that helps to regulate blood pressure. Zucchini also has a smidge of calcium and fiber and just four grams of carbohydrates.
The smaller, the better. Though zucchini can grow to epic proportions, the smaller ones tend to be more flavorful and are best for eating raw or cooked (larger ones are okay to bake with). Once you buy it (or, lucky you, pick it!), store zucchini unwashed in the refrigerator in a plastic produce bag until you’re ready to use it.
It can be savory or sweet. Anyone who’s baked a loaf of zucchini bread or batch of zucchini muffins knows that this veggie can transform itself into a tasty dessert. Here’s my recipe for Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Bread--even though I’m a dietitian, I admit this is the first thing I think of when zucchini starts showing up at summer farmer’s markets!
The flowers are edible. The little yellow blossoms that grow on the zucchini plant are fully edible. In fact, sometimes they’re served fried!