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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Summer Squash

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


Summer squash, with its delicate flavor, soft shell, and creamy white flesh, is at its peak in July and can be enjoyed as an addition to any summer meal. Summer squash, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, and relative of both the melon and the cucumber, comes in many different varieties including yellow squash (straightneck and crookneck), pattypan (round and flattened like a plate) and America’s most popular type, zucchini. Consumed for over 10,000 years and indigent to a region between Guatemala and Mexico, squash was initially cultivated for their seeds since earlier ones contained less flesh that was bitter and unpalatable. Over the years, squash cultivation spread throughout the Americas and sweeter varieties were developed. Europeans first experienced squash when introduced by Christopher Columbus on his return from the New World.

Summer squash, rich in vitamins and nutrients, fights cancer, supports men’s health and protects the cardiovascular system. Summer squash is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C and a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, riboflavin, phosphorous and beta-carotene. Together, these nutrients help prevent diabetic heart disease, reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Squash may also help alleviate asthma and arthritis, due to its high level of antioxidants (Vitamin C and beta-carotene) that reduce inflammation, a major cause of these conditions.

Summer squash, unlike winter squash, can be eaten in its entirety, rind, seeds and flesh. They are more fragile than the winter variety and can’t be stored for long periods of time. Summer squash will last about 7 days in the fridge when stored unwashed in a plastic bag. When shopping for summer squash, choose ones with shiny, unblemished rinds that aren’t too hard, an indication they are overripe. Opt for squash of substantial weight, yet average size – not too big or too small – for optimal flavor and texture. Summer squash can be enjoyed raw or cooked, either as a main meal or side dish. Grated on top of salads, sliced into sandwiches, or sautéed with onions and peppers in a tomato sauce, summer squash is a truly versatile food. Experiment to find your favorite way to eat it. For something unique, add summer squash to your favorite homemade muffin recipe for a delicious and nutritious treat!

Summer Squash/Vegetable Stir-Fry

This is a versatile recipe that can be enjoyed with a variety of vegetables including eggplants, carrots or other favorites.

3 medium zucchini or any type of yellow squash

1 TBSP olive oil

1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

6 whole scallions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground (or cumin powder*)

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Wash squash and slice into thin strips. Set aside. Prepare all other vegetables and set aside.

Heat a heavy skillet over low heat. Add cumin seeds and shake the skillet occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove the skillet from the heat after about 5 minutes or once the cumin aroma is strong. Pour seeds into a mortar, allow to cool, and then grind. (*While fresh cumin is always preferred for taste, you may substitute with cumin powder if you’re short on time.)

Heat a non-stick skillet or wok over medium heat. Add oil. Once very hot, add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and stir constantly. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with ground cumin, salt and pepper. Stir. Serve hot or cold alone or over brown or basmati rice. Enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings.

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com, or call her at (646) 265-9055 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.


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