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Ask Dr. Denton: What Can I Do With all this Zucchini? Is it Healthy?

By Dr. Denton D. Weiss. M.D.
July 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

During this time of the year I am so blessed to receive fresh vegetables from my patients. They know I love fresh foods and they simply spoil me. The Zucchini start arriving in mid-July and just keep coming. My daughter and chef keeps me abreast with the latest recipe she has created -or found - and I love the results. PS: so does my waist line

PORTSMOUTH, VA (Catholic Online) - Dear Dr Denton: I have so many Zucchini I don't know what to do with them! Are they good for me?
Overwhelmed with Zucchini

Dear overwhelmed with Zucchini,

I too have an abundance of these green and yellow monstrosities - Big squash!

During this time of the year I am so blessed to receive fresh vegetables from my patients. They know I love fresh foods and they simply spoil me. The Zucchini start arriving in mid-July and just keep coming. My daughter and chef keeps me abreast with the latest recipe she has created -or found - and I love the results. PS: so does my waist line. After our January through Lent weight loss program, I have been able to maintain my health with going back to the basics of beautiful living. (Eating fresh smaller portions everyday with the ones I love.)

So what about Zucchini? What is the Italian name?

Interestingly, Zucchini are an American Original. The Squash was transported to Europe by early explorers and has been a part of the European diet ever sense. I guess familiarity breeds contempt on this one. We Americans just didn't realize what we had! Its new sexy Italian name made our big green squash a gourmet hit. American Big Green Squash we dub thee Zucchini. Princely, don't you think!

PS: I am sure Zucchini was a beautiful Italian chief with an adventurous spirit for new world veggies. I know, I know, I got romantically carried away again.

Actually, the Zucchini is also called Courette by the French. I have to say still much sexier than green squash. Now the question was asked are these vegetables healthy? The answer is -

ABSOLUTELY

One medium Zucchini has roughly 33 calories and is made up of an abundance of Vitamins and Minerals.

In one medium Zucchini weighing 196 g there are 6g of carbohydrates, 2 g of which are dietary fiber (That's good), 2.4 g of protein, and .6 g of fat. There is an abundance of Vitamin C (58% of our daily needs) and Vitamin A in the beta carotene form. Both B 6 and B 12 are also present. Magnesium, Calcium, and Iron are all minerals present, and represent 8%, 3%, and 3% respectively of our daily requirements.  Interestingly this makes Zucchini a great side dish source of minerals for women.

Remember the skin of the zucchini is very important nutritionally, a great source of Vitamin A beta carotene. So, please keep the skin on!

The smaller Zucchini are more tender and flavor filled. Look for the Zucchini with the brightest color and no skin damage. If you are blessed to be growing zucchini in your garden, a fun garnish to your plate is the flower. The zucchini flower is edible and considered a true delicacy in many countries.

Here are a few simple Zucchini recipes from my daughter, Chef Micaela. From our family to yours - Enjoy the Blessings of The Summer Garden.

Grilled Veggies
2 Zucchini
2 Squash
1 Large Onion
1 container of mushrooms
1 tomato
5 garlic cloves
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbs Worchester sauce
Olive oil

Start your grill on high heat. Chop Zucchini, Squash, Onion, and tomato into cube sizes. Give the mushrooms a quick chop just enough so you can still pick them up with a fork but not to big that you can't get other veggies in the same bite. Crush your garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife. In a bowl mix all the seasonings/spices, balsamic vinegar, and Worchester sauce. In a separate bowl mix all the veggies and coat with enough olive oil so they aren't sticking together. Then add the sauce to the veggies and stir. Turn your grill down to low heat.

Take aluminum foil and create a pouch and pour all of the veggies and sauce in to. Seal the pouch and poke 4 small holes in it. Once the grill has cooled down just a bit put the pouch of veggies on the grill. This is where it is tricky depending on how crunchy you like your veggies. I always say that once you can smell the garlic they are done. If you don't like them mushy then I would leave the grill closed and them inside for between 8-10 minutes. I throw the veggies on for 10 minutes then cook whatever protein I'm doing and take them off at the same time, which is approximately a total of 20 minutes. You can pretty much add whatever spices or veggies you want just adjust your time accordingly. Yum!

Zucchini and Potatoes
- Extra-virgin olive oil (Enough to coat the pan completely)
- 3 TBS of Butter
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- ½ TBS of minced garlic
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed (slightly larger than zucchini cubes)
- 1 Tomato diced
- 2 zucchini, cubed
- Coarse salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning (or a combination of oregano and thyme)

DIRECTIONS

STEP 1 Heat a 12-inch straight-sided skillet. Add oil, onion, and butter. Add potatoes and cook 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, tomato, zucchini, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and sauté 8 to 10 minutes more covered, until zucchini are just tender.

Hint: If you are making a chicken or beef dish add 1 TBS of butter/olive oil and ¼ cup of the broth from your dish or chicken/beef broth. It will emulate the flavors of your dish without overpowering the veggies. If this is to add to pasta always throw parmesan into the pan a little before the zucchini is done and it will give it a nuttier flavor.

Remember: If you are using this as your main dish then one more Zucchini and 1 less Potato is ok to decrease the white carbs and increase the nutrition. 

Buon Appetito, Dr D and Chef Micaela  

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Dr Denton D. Weiss, M.D. is board certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Weiss' approach to his medical practice flows from his convictions about the meaning of life which are deeply rooted in his Catholic Faith. He and his wife, Michelle strive for an integrated approach to life which recognizes the unity of the body, mind and soul. They call this approach "Bella Vitae" or "Beautiful Living". He, and Michelle, are contributing writers to Catholic Online. Their oldest daughter, Chef Micaela, makes her debut with this column.

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