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Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

Do you have any Labor Day plans? Maybe you’ll be spending the holiday with family and friends and grilling up some great food to share. Grilling can be a great way to connect with others and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, there are some health benefits associated with preparing food on the grill!

vegetables on a grill

Grilling fruits and vegetables can be a tasty way to get your “five a day the color way”!

MyPlate recommends we fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables. Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables each day can help you live a longer, healthier life and protect you from certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and some types of cancer. Many fruits and vegetables can be grilled, and kabobs are a fun way to grill a variety of different colored fruits and veggies. See the videos below for suggestions to grill two favorite summer vegetables: sweet corn and zucchini.

In addition to the nutrients your grilled vegetables contain, you also get some Vitamin D when outside grilling. While most vitamins are obtained through our diets, the best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight. Vitamin D is nicknamed the “Sunshine Vitamin” because our bodies form it after exposure to sunlight.

While there are many nutritional benefits to cooking vegetables on the grill, it’s important to note that carcinogens – substances capable of causing cancer – can form when meats and proteins are cooked at very high temperatures. To reduce the formation of carcinogens when grilling, marinate your meats in an acidic liquid like vinegar before putting them on the grill. These carcinogens are only produced by meats, so no need to worry about them when grilling your vegetables.

Here’s to a safe and healthy Labor Day weekend, hopefully with some grilling involved!

Resources:

Axelrod, A. (2021). Friday Fix: How to make grilled foods healthier. Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. https://www.pancan.org/news/friday-fix-how-to-make-grilled-foods-healthier/.

McManus, K. (2019). Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the color of the rainbow. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/phytonutrients-paint-your-plate-with-the-colors-of-the-rainbow-2019042516501

Written by Kacey Gonzalez, Dietetic Intern, Marshall University

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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If you are out and about at farmers markets this summer, don’t be afraid of the monster zucchini! Finding fresh and unique food for a bargain is always exciting.  This weekend at the market I found a zucchini the size of Texas for .50 cents!  I hesitated to buy it because I was taught that they “aren’t as tender and have more seeds.” But I wanted to find out for myself if this were true, plus I was really curious how many dishes I could make from one large zucchini.

Traditional harvesting instruction for zucchini says to pick when they are young and tender, bright green, about 6-8 inches long and with no signs of bruising or softness.

While experimenting with this monster zucchini I learned:

  1. The inside was not tough. The inside was very edible and tasted almost as good as smaller ones. However, it did have a giant seed pocket that I removed.
  2. Large zucchini have longer shelf lives.  While smaller zucchinis have skin that is softer, large zucchinis skin may be tougher (think of it like a pumpkin shell) to protect the flesh for a long time and allow it to continue to grow inside without getting soft quickly.  This tougher skin can help keep large zucchini fresh for at least a month after harvesting instead of 3-5 days. If you find that the skin is too tough to eat, just peel it! Then use the inside to cook and eat as you would normally.
  3. You can save the big seeds inside for planting next year. One large zucchini could have hundreds of seeds in it! Just like pumpkin seeds you just need to dry them out, then you can save them and plant next year…free food!
  • You can make baked goods with zucchini that can be frozen for later use.  Making zucchini bread is one of my favorite things to do to use up zucchini! If you need some inspiration, try this Zucchini Cheddar Bread recipe that won first place for quick breads at last year’s Ohio State Fair. If you don’t want to freeze baked bread, you can also grate and freeze zucchini, then thaw and use it to bake with later.
  • You can use large zucchini slices to make zucchini lasagna. Simply follow your regular lasagna recipes but use zucchini in place of lasagna noodles.  Cutting the zucchini lengthwise lends itself to the perfect lasagna “noodle” and softens as it cooks. How perfect is that! No mess with boiling a noodle first, and you get extra veggies in your meal. 

In the end, my .50 cent monster zucchini experiment paid off!   I made lasagna that served 10 nurses on my son’s cardiac unit, 2 loaves of zucchini bread, and baked zucchini rounds rolled in egg, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. PLUS, I even saved some of the big seeds to plant for next year!

Author: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Licking County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County         

Sources:

University of Minnesota Extension (2018). Growing Summer Squash and Zucchini in Home Gardens. https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-summer-squash-and-zucchini-home-gardens#harvest-and-storage-341015

Homegrown & Healthy (2020). What to do with overgrown zucchini. https://homegrownandhealthy.com/what-to-do-with-overgrown-zucchini/

Ohio State University Extension (2015). Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5333

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zucchini.jpg

As my family gardened this week we noticed that we have an abundance of zucchini. It’s that time of year where everyone is getting more than they anticipated and they are trying to find ways to use it up, preserve it, or give it away.

When picking zucchini look for firm and wrinkle free zucchini that is about 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. If you are anything like me, you likely have zucchini in your garden that’s 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. The larger the zucchini the tougher it will be and it will also contain more seeds. These zucchini are best for baking. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, grate the zucchini and use in your favorite recipes.

Zucchini have a high water content which makes them lower in calories. They provide us with vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, and potassium. This makes them a fantastic vegetable to eat. However, not all children are big vegetable eaters. If you are like me, you sneak them into things when they don’t notice. Zucchini bread is always a good option but if you have a picky eater like I do, the green flecks in the bread can quickly turn them away. Have you ever put it in your chocolate cake or finely shredded in spaghetti sauce? My kids don’t know it’s there and I get them to eat a vegetable! I count it as my mom super power! The below recipe is a great one to try from USDA’s Mixing Bowl recipe collection. You can also check out some of their other zucchini recipes.

The big zucchini that I picked from my garden will make a lot of Chocolate Squash cake. I won’t use all of my grated zucchini before it goes bad so I will be freezing my leftovers. For proper freezing procedures please check out these safe instructions by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Make sure you blanch zucchini before freezing to ensure quality.

Eating the squash cake is not as healthy for you as eating the raw vegetable itself but we all have to start somewhere.

Aunt Barbara’s Chocolate Squash Cake

Makes: 12 Servings

Instructions

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 package cake mix, dark chocolate

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup squash (shredded or finely chopped)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10″ tube or bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and cinnamon.
  3. Add eggs, water, and oil. Blend until combined, then beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Fold in squash. Add nuts if you like.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Other Ideas:

  • Use a greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • To lighten cake, try 6 egg whites in place of whole egg.
  • Replace 1/2 cup oil with 1/2 cup applesauce.

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

REVIEWED BY: Lisa Barlage , Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,  Ross County.

SOURCES:

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Basil Herb Bowl

Basil Herb Bowl

My herb pots are growing and I need to harvest some of them. All of the rain we’ve had this summer in Ohio has made them lush and ready to pick. I’ve enjoyed substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs in many dishes this summer. Let’s talk about a couple of dishes we’ve enjoyed this summer. Not sure about which herbs to use with which foods? This Ohio State University Fact Sheet will give you some great suggestions for selecting, storing and using fresh herbs.

Have you tried a Caprese sandwich with fresh basil? If not, try one for a yummy treat.

How about a dish of caramelized onions, summer squash and garlic? Stir fry these vegetables and add fresh basil or oregano. If you have zucchini, slice it and add it to your recipe. Try this version from USDA for summer squash medley.

This year I made a version of Mala String Beans with fresh green beans. Cook your green beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Once they are blanched, you can store them in the refrigerator for 3 days. To make your Mala String Beans, caramelize onions and garlic (be generous with garlic) in a small amount of olive oil. Add your blanched green beans and stir fry. Add a small amount of sesame oil and low sodium soy sauce. Enjoy. Using fresh onions from my garden made this dish extra tasty.

Back to my herbs. . . I want to have the taste of fresh herbs after they’ve dried up and there’s snow on the ground so I decided to freeze some of my herbs so that I can enjoy them this winter.

Here’s my pictorial of picking and freezing herbs:

Basil just picked, washed and drying on paper towel.

Fresh Picked Basil

Fresh Picked Basil

Chopping fresh basil with specialty sheers. You can also chop with a knife.

Chopping Fresh Herbs

Chopping Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs in a tray ready to be frozen. You can use an ice cube tray or a special herb tray with a lid.

Fresh Herbs in Tray

Fresh Herbs in Tray

Frozen herbs on a plate before placing in airtight freezer container.

Frozen Herbs

Frozen Herbs

Frozen herb cubes in airtight container to be stored in freezer.

Frozen Herbs

Frozen Herbs

I found out that it is relatively easy to freeze herbs. I picked my herbs and lightly rinsed them. Lightly dry them on a clean towel or paper towel. Chop them with a knife or special herb chopping scissors. Freeze in ice cube trays or in special herb freezing trays. Fill the trays with about 2 Tablespoons of herbs and water. Freeze overnight. Pop out the cubes and place in airtight containers. I would recommend storing your herbs in separate containers so the flavors don’t mix. I have basil and rosemary frozen in my freezer waiting for my next creation.

What will you create with fresh herbs?

Writer: Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, OSU Extension Northwest Region Office, spires.53@osu.edu

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Now is a great time to eat locally grown vegetables. Depending upon where you live, there may be an abundance of vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.  Now is a great time to buy local fruit and vegetables and to support your local farmer’s markets.   Zucchini Stir Fry is a recipe that is tasty, easy-to-make and inexpensive.  Using fresh basil in this recipe just adds to the flavor.  For maximum flavor, remember to add fresh herbs towards the end of the cooking time.zuchini

Just in case you need a reason to eat more fruits and veggies, look at the Top 10 reasons listed below.  An easy way to increase your fruits and vegetables is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.  Now is a great time to enjoy the bountiful produce of summer!

Zucchini Stir Fry  Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion
1 yellow squash
1 medium zucchini
1 red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
  Instructions:
1. Peel the onion. Cut it into thin slices.
2. Slice the yellow squash into thin round pieces.
3. Slice the zucchini into thin round pieces.
4. Chop the red pepper into small pieces.
5. Heat the oil in a frying pan or stir-fry pan. Add the onion slices.
6. Cook over medium heat, stirring quickly for 1 minute.
7. Add the spices and stir a few times.
8. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes till vegetables are just tender.
  Cost:
Per Recipe: $ 1.93
Per Serving: $ 0.48
Adapted from:
Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network Website Recipes
The Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program 
TOP 10 Reasons to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

  • Color and Texture-Fruits and vegetables add color, texture and great taste to your plate.
  • Convenience- Fresh, frozen, canned or dried- fruits and vegetables are portable and easy to fix.
  • Fiber- Fruits and vegetables provide you with fiber which fills you up and keeps your digestive system happy.
  • Low in Calories- Naturally low in calories, they make a great choice if you are watching your calories.
  • May Reduce Disease Risks-Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risks of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.
  • Vitamins and Minerals-Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.\
  • Variety-Fruits and vegetables are available in many varities, you have many to taste test.
  • Natural snack-Fruits and vegetables are nature’s treat and make a quick and easy snack.
  • Fun to eat-Some you peel, crunch or squirt making eating fun.
  • Tasty and Delicious-Fruits and vegetables are nutritious and delicious.   Try a new one today.

Source: Produce for Better Health   www.fruitsandvegetablesmorematters.org

Author:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences

 

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