T’is the season for zucchini – Zucchini Butter Spaghetti

If you have planted zucchini in your garden, you should be swimming in it by now. But unfortunately for me, my plants are a little slow as even plants need good nutrition. I discovered that mine were not producing as much zucchini because my soil is a little low in calcium. Inquiries into the issue provided the answer: hen manure. So my plants should be up to speed very soon- hopefully!

But even if you haven’t planted zucchini, there is plenty at available at farmers markets or wherever you buy your seasonal produce.

So take advantage, enjoy the summer bounty and reap some nutritional perks.

Consider a cup of cooked zucchini clocks in at under 30 calories and offers almost 2 grams of fibre. What’s surprising to many, though, is that zucchini beats out what many think is the top banana in terms of potassium. A medium banana supplies 422 milligrams of potassium while that cup of cooked zucchini offers 475 milligrams. Potassium is a nutrient that’s in short supply in our diets, playing a major role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.

This summer squash is also packed with the carotenoids – yellow pigments – lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds act as antioxidants offering a wide range of health perks including heart health benefits and defending against cognitive decline. But where their reputation has been made is in protecting vision. They’re major players in defending against age-related macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. They’re also linked to a lower incidence of developing cataracts.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in the retina. According the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, to get to the eye, the lutein has to pass through the blood-brain barrier, a highly selective membrane that protects the brain. Research shows that the amount of these carotenoids in the brain are similar to the amounts found in the eye. And those amounts are linked to measures of cognitive function.

When you’re preparing zucchini, scrub the peel but do not remove it. I say this as I do know of people who think that zucchini needs to be peeled. (My mother-in-law is one and it’s one area where I have not kept silent!)

Here’s a absolutely delicious zucchini pasta dish from Smitten Kitchen. While you may feel the need to follow the recipe exactly, don’t. Use it as a guide. We used only one third of the butter – 2 tablespoons – and to be honest, I think using the entire amount might have made the dish taste too rich. We upped the amount of zucchini and it was perfection. We all said we could eat it again the next night – but alas I didn’t have anymore zucchini from my garden. But I spied a bunch growing so it will be on the menu in just a few days.

Here’s the link to Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Butter Spaghetti. It will become a family favourite. Guaranteed!

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Categories: Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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