The prolific nature of the zucchini squash is legendary, but less well known are the abundance of the anti-oxidants found in this summer squash. Summer squash is a very rich source of many antioxidants, particularly so the skin - just another reason to purchase or grow organic squash in order to avoid ingestion of unwanted contaminants.
Summer squash is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin C and vitamin A, and it contains a good amount of carotenoid antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These particular antioxidants are especially helpful in protecting the eyes against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The antioxidants in summer squash are particularly stable with proper handling and preparation. Raw summer squash, summer squash that has been briefly steamed and even previously frozen summer squash all provide excellent levels of antioxidants.
Summer squash can be instrumental in blood sugar stabilization, too. Summer squash contains a long list of nutrients related to regulation of blood sugar. Proper metabolism of blood sugar requires the availability of many B-complex vitamins: summer squash contains folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline, as well as the minerals magnesium and zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are important in the regulation of blood sugar in the body.
Dietary fiber is important for proper balance of insulin metabolism and blood sugars; summer squash provides a significant amount of dietary fiber, including polysaccharide fibers (such as pectin) which are especially beneficial in regulation blood sugar. Studies have shown that the type of dietary fiber in summer squash help regulate insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels and help protect against the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Zucchini lends itself to an endless variety of recipes (luckily). In the following recipes, dipping the tofu in cornstarch before sauteeing will add a tasty little 'crust' to the tofu cubes.
Fried tofu with zucchini and rice noodles
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1# extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
- 4-6 oz rice noodles, cooked
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise and then cut into slices
- 4 medium-small carrots, cut into toothpicks
Dip the cubes of tofu in cornstarch. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium to high heat. Sauté the garlic until it begins to brown, and then add the tofu. Saute the tofu for 4 or 5 minutes, turning to brown all sides and adding more oil if necessary. Add the veggies and saute for 4 or 5 minutes or until the vegetables intensify in color and are just tender (or don't saute them at all and add them last - they will be nice and crunchy). Add the rice noodles and saute until heated through.
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