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Zucchini is a chameleon vegetable
Chameleon vegetable? Strange images may pop into your head but what I mean is that zucchini, or summer squash as it’s also known, is very versatile. It is very bland so it’s great to take on the flavor of any seasonings or sauces.
Picking and Preparing
Look for a firm, smooth-skinned cylinder, and check for mold if it is wrapped in plastic. Beware that there are genetically modified zucchinis, so make sure to shop for organic if you want to avoid GMOs.
Zucchini can be eaten raw, sauteed, stewed, or steamed. Don’t boil it as it will turn to mush. It can also be used as a way to add fiber and moisture to baked goods. Who doesn’t love a good zucchini bread or muffin! Zucchini cooks quickly and has a high water content, so some people prefer to sprinkle the shreds, slices or cubes with salt and let the water seep out and wring it with a towel before sauteeing, stewing, or steaming.
Recently it’s gained popularity among Paleo dieters as a low-carb grain-free replacement for noodles or pasta. If you don’t have a fancy vegetable spiralizer, you can just use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips then slice those strips as you like or leave them wide.
What can I say about taste? It takes on more flavor when it’s sauteed – a buttery flavor I’d say. But if you shred and eat it raw, it will go well with almost any salad dressing, or just salt, pepper, and lemon or lime juice, or my favorite, with a homemade dairy-free pesto!
One popular health benefit nowadays with obesity being a huge problem is that it is so low in calories and together with its versatility and mildness makes it a great stand-in for pasta as mentioned above or as a great way to get more fiber and less empty carbs.
Nutrition-wise, it’s high in vitamin C and pectin, which has been shown to benefit the arteries thus anyone concerned about cardiovascular health can feel good about eating it! Plus it’s a good source of potassium, and it’s high water content and natural electrolytes help regulate bowel movements. Other nutrients provided in decent amounts are B2, B6, and folate. B vitamins are essential for numerous metabolic processes and are important for hormonal health.
One of my favorite ways to eat zucchini and also one of the simplest is fritters. Simply shred some zucchini, either by hand or in a food processor, season it with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and mix it with a scrambled egg or two, then pour into a hot skillet coated with a tsp or Tbsp of coconut oil or rendered solid grass-fed or pastured animal fat (beef, duck, lard, etc). Give it a minute or two to get golden brown then flip for another minute or two or until there’s no more liquid egg seeping through the surface when pressed gently with a spatula. You can serve with guacamole, salsa, or pesto, or as is!
Here is my recipe for the other super-vegetable, Daikon. Enjoy!
Your Practical guide to picking and Cooking Daikon
As part of my Veggies – past the ick and on to the yum series, we will first visit the vegetable that inspired me to write this blog. The white radish, known as daikon, is commonly eaten by many Asian cultures and in many ways. I have had it in Indian sambar, a spicy lentil stew or soup, pickled, cultured, stir-fried, and even raw. Next time you go to the grocery store, look for it as it may astound you – it can get really big!
Picking and Preparing
This radish looks a lot different from the little red radish you commonly see by the bunch or bag. It is either torpedo-shaped or cylindrical and can be up to 2 feet long and 3 inches in diameter. The outside may look a bit dirty, but don’t worry. Once you get it home, you can use your vegetable peeler to remove that outer dirty part just like you’d peel a carrot, and what you will see is a snow white firm flesh. Just make sure to choose one that is firm, the same way you’d choose any other type of radish.
Then depending on what you want to do with it, you can slice it thickly or thinly, or shred it. I like to do 1/4″ slices cut into half circles for stir-fry, and 1/2″ slices for a soup or stew. Try shredding it onto a salad like a carrot.
This radish is very mild. The common red radish is definitely spicier. That makes daikon a great choice for those who like a crisp veggie in their stir fry but that can turn tender when cooked.
Why Eat This Thing? – The Health Benefits
Daikon root is a powerfully healthy food. Most of all it aids digestion because it’s full of beneficial enzymes that break down fats and proteins. Secondly, it’s full of important nutrients especially vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and phosphorous. Thirdly, it’s an awesome detoxifier. Daikon root has been found to neutralize the effects of a common carcinogen called nitrosamine, thus aiding in protecting against cancer. Not only does it help rid the body of toxins, but it’s also decongesting and diuretic when eaten raw, while also aiding in regulating blood pressure.
The easiest way to incorporate this crazy-good-for-you veggie is to just peel, slice, and stir fry it along with your other go-to stir-fry veggies such as bell pepper, carrot, and broccoli or bok choy.
For the more adventurous, or those interested in really enhancing its digestive benefits, please try this simple lacto-fermentation recipe. The ingredient list is short, and it’s much easier than you think it is.
Lastly, another very no-brainer choice is to simply chunk it and cook it like carrots into your soup or stew. I’ve even roasted it with other root veggies!
Here’s a picture of a meal I made that includes stir-fried daikon.
Check out my other post about how to cook Zucchini.