Healthy eating options for abundant zucchini

Gardens everywhere are exploding with nutrients and antioxidants multiplying rapidly in their natural form, ready to be harvested and used to nourish our bodies. It is absolutely amazing the number of nutrients we can obtain from a single seed. For mere pennies, (and a lot of muscle and sweat) you can feed yourselves and your family. 

One of my favorite ripening vegetables is zucchini squash. It loves to play hide-and-seek in the garden. Just when you think you have gotten them all, you move a leaf and find another one that is ready to be picked. At only 20 calories per cup and a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, B vitamins, and potassium, this is one vegetable to load up on.

Remember though, the number of calories in zucchini significantly changes once it is transformed into bread, cake or cookies. Sorry everyone, but chocolate zucchini cake does not count as a vegetable serving. Here are a couple healthy zucchini recipes that can be used frequently. Zucchini is a vegetable that multiplies rapidly, so it is good to have several recipes.

Zucchini
Oven Chips

¼ cup dry breadcrumbs (I like the Italian-flavored variety)

¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon seasoned salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons skim milk

2½ cups (¼-inch thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium-size bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately. (These also taste great with marinara sauce.)

Makes 4 servings. Nutritional information per serving: 61 calories, 1.9 grams fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 7.6 g carbohydrate, 231 mg sodium, 3.8 g protein, 1 g fiber. Recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine.

Simmered Zucchini with Peppers and Tomatoes

4-6 small zucchini squash

1 medium sweet onion

1 to 2 bell peppers (green or red)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

Dash Cajun seasoning, optional

1 cup chicken broth

Juice of one lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut zucchini into sticks or slices. Quarter and slice the onion and bell pepper. Combine the zucchini, onion, bell pepper, garlic, basil, Cajun seasoning, chicken broth, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Add tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, as desired.

Serves 4 to 6. Nutritional information per serving: 53 calories, 7 g fat, 170 mg sodium, 10.3 g carbohydrate, 2.7 g fiber, 3.5 g protein.

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