Why is Zucchini stellar for our gut?
Zucchini, also known as courgette, can grow mature at up to 3.2 feet long. Although zucchini is often considered a vegetable, it is botanically classified as a fruit as it contains seeds– just like its cousin the cucumber from the fruit family as well. It occurs in several varieties, which range in color from deep yellow to dark green. Zucchini can be harvested when it is at its baby stage or when it is more mature– up to six or eight inches long. Many growers and chefs note that zucchini will be at its peak flavor and texture when five to six inches in length. Today, it is easily the most popularly grown and consumed of all summer squashes and there are numerous zucchini varieties on the market today!
Zucchini contains vitamin A, high water content, antioxidants, and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Research has provided evidence that the skin of the plant contains a majority of its antioxidants, and yellow zucchinis may contain slightly higher levels than light green ones. In reference to micronutrients, cooked zucchini has more vitamin A and less vitamin C, a nutrient which tends to be reduced by cooking. They also contain Carotenoids — such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene– which may benefit your eyes, skin, and heart, as well as offer some protection against certain types of cancer, such as prostate and colon cancer.
There is 94.9 grams of water per 100 grams of zucchini: increased water content can soften stools and reduce constipation, while insoluble fiber can add to the bulk of stools and increase motility. One cup of cooked zucchini can provide 1 gram of fiber, which is beneficial to your motility–movement of food through your intestines– and preventative for a variety of diseases. Dietary fiber is essential to a healthy digestive system, and fiber in both types (soluble and insoluble fiber) is necessary . Soluble fiber is beneficial to the gut microbiome, and contributes to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFAs can be used in the gut by the endothelium (gut lining) and the bacteria to reduce inflammation and symptoms of disorders such as IBS, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, as well as prevent pathogenic bacteria.
Ways to eat it
Zucchini can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked, sauteed, or grilled. We love to incorporate zucchini in a wide variety of our #GoodGut recipes! Try it in our Curry Kelp Noodles, Butternut Squash soup, Zoodle Pasta, Zucchini Lasagna, Mediterranean Mix Sauté, Zucchini Tots and more!
Recipe: Zucchini Lasagna
Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):
2 medium Italian zucchini
1 package organic firm tofu
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp redmond seasoning salt
1 tsp redmond real garlic salt
1/2 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 packet dairy-free, vegan mozzarella
1 16 oz bottled marinara sauce
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, mash the tofu into crumbles.
Season the tofu with 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, and 1/2 tsp seasoning salt, and set aside.
Finely chop the onions, garlic, and kale.
Sauté the onions and garlic in 1/4 cup vegetable broth or 2 Tbsp olive oil. Once transparent, add kale. Season with 1 pinch garlic salt and 1 tsp Italian seasoning.
Slice the zucchini into 1/8 inch slices/ strips, lengthwise.
Slice Miyokos mozzarella into 1/8 inch slices/strips, lengthwise.
In a large pyrex tray, lay down slices of 1 whole zucchini to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
Layer the mashed tofu.
Layer the sautéed vegetables.
Layer 3/4 of the marina jar.
Layer more zucchini slices.
Pour the remaining 1/4 jar of marinara sauce.
Top with dairy-free Mozzarella strips.
Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool a few minutes then cut into pieces. Serve and enjoy!
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