Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Squash...........they are abundant. Our gardens are beginning to overflow with them. They seem to multiply and take over. You have so much of it that you give bags of it away to everyone who stops by the house. Not a gardener? Perhaps you push right by bins of squash each week at the produce market. They are inexpensive but you don't know anything about and have no idea how to cook them.

July is going to be all about Squash Sense. All month long we will be exploring these soft-shelled vegetables, learning how good they are for us, and trying new recipes. We will be baking them into bread, tossing them into stir frys, stuffing them with goodies, and more!

Summer squash are relatives of both the melon and the cucumber and come in many different varieties.  They come in different in shapes, color, size and flavor, but all share some common characteristics. The entire vegetable, including its flesh, seeds and skin, is edible. Some varieties of the squash plant produce edible flowers. Unlike winter squash, summer squash are more fragile and cannot be stored for very long.  This is why we try to give them away so quickly!

Although not as potent as root vegetables like burdock, garlic or onion, squashes have been found to have anti-cancer type effects. Although phytonutrient research on squash is limited, some lab studies have shown vegetable juices obtained from squash to be parallel to juices made from leeks, pumpkin, and radish in their ability to prevent cell mutations (cancer-like changes).

In research studies, extracts from squash have also been found to help reduce symptoms of a condition occurring in men called benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. In this condition, the prostate gland becomes problematically enlarged, which can cause difficulty with urinary and sexual function. Serve your man some squash and make it quick!!

Packed with nutrients, summer squash are excellent sources of manganese and vitamin C and a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, copper, riboflavin, and phosphorus.  They are good for your heart and can even help relieve the symptoms of arthiritis! Who knew?

Types of Summer Squash:

Zucchini: Probably the best known of the summer squashes, zucchini is a type of narrow squash that resembles a cucumber in size and shape. It has smooth, thin skin that is either green or yellow in color and can be striped or speckled. Its tender flesh is creamy white in color and features numerous seeds. Its edible flowers are often used in French and Italian cooking.

Crookneck and Straightneck Squash: Both of these summer squashes have creamy white flesh and generally have yellow skins, although sometimes you can find them with green skin. Crookneck squash is partially straight with a swan-like neck.

Pattypan Squash: This small saucer-shaped squash features skin that can either be pale green or golden yellow in color. Its cream-colored flesh is more dense and slightly sweeter than that of zucchini.

The possibilities for these abundant gifts from the earth are endless. Shred and bake in bread ( a sneaky way to get the kids to eat more veggies), lightly steam, slice and serve with dip, saute' in garlic and olive oil and toss into pasta dishes, scoop out the insides and stuff with rice, nuts, and raisins (my favorite).  You will never run out of ideas.

And this is my Daily Cyn...........

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