Well, maybe not literally, but it can feel that way at this time in the summer, when home gardens, farmer’s markets and fresh produce aisles abound with these versatile and prolific veggies.
There is something kind of funny about these little green monsters. It could just be the word ‘zucchini’, which by the way has its roots in the very food-associated Italian language. ‘Zucca’ is the Italian word for squash. Not to get bogged down in an etymology thing . . . the point is that zucchini has been party to many silly jokes, such as:
What is a zucchini’s favorite sport?
Squash . . . of course!
All silliness aside, the zucchini has some serious qualities as well. While we mostly use it in a savory capacity in cooking, it is actually considered an ‘immature fruit’. No. I’m not trying to be funny, although it does have a comedic if not sort of sarcastic sound to it. Even worse is the description of it being the ‘swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower’!
Okay, now we’re going to get serious, really . . . the zucchini has a lot of nutritional punch per bite. One cup of raw zucchini is only 3 calories! Those three calories are high in folate, manganese, potassium and vitamin A. According to NutritionData.com, it also has a zero glycemic load.
The zucchini is an old standby in the Americas and archaeologists have traced its origins back to Mexico between 7000 – 5500 BC! An integral part of the pre-columbian diet, it is still a staple in Mexican cuisine known as one of the ‘three sisters’ – corn, beans and squash.
Odd as this may sound, our current cultural introduction to zucchini did NOT come from our continental neighbors, but from europe! When early european explorers were bringing back booty (after some nasty looting often), they came back with what would make its way back to Italy and be named zucchini, where it quickly gained in popularity. It made its way to France and England too, where it is called courgette. Along with some other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo and is also referred to as summer squash.
In our quirky culture, zucchini has a cult following and there are several well-known annual zucchini festivals that are worth investigating if you haven’t done it yet. Each coast is represented by good festivals:
Hayward Zucchini Festival – August 16 & 17
This is perhaps the original. Takes place in Hayward, California (Northern – Oakland area) and has been there for about 25 years. The event was really a joke started by a creative mayor who was looking for some fun and publicity for his town.
11th Annual Vermont State Zucchini Festival – August 16 & 17
So both coasts are well represented here! This event takes place in Ludlow, Vermont.
My chiropractor friend, Dr. Cathy Ostroff, also happens to be a homeopath and wonderful nutritional counselor, has helped me tremendously as I am shifting away from wheat, sugar and dairy :( which has not been an easy process. I (and my family) have been pining for my regular zucchini bread, which I haven’t baked since making this change in my way of eating. She offered to figure out a recipe for me and I think went to considerable effort to research and test recipes. I’m grateful to say, we made zucchini bread, sans wheat/gluten, sugar and dairy last night! I was skeptical, but it worked. Not as sweet as the rest of the family is used to, but everyone agreed it was great. Here’s the recipe:
Dr. Ostroff’s Healthy & Delicious Zucchini Bread
1 c walnut oil
2 t stevia powder
2 c grated zucchini (peeled if desired)
1 t vanilla
3 cups gluten free flour–this had rice, chick pea, tapioca flours mixed
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 walnuts (optional)
Sift or mix dry ingredients together; mix wet ingredients together; place wet mixture into dry mixture and stir till mixed. Place in greased oven pan loaf or 5 X 9 pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Cool on cooling rack before removing from pan.