Summer Squash: Healthy & Good for You

Where we live squash is one of summer's most prolific crops. Squash, corn and beans were the three main agricultural crops grown by natives in North America. Native Americans shared many varieties of squash with European settlers and today squash are grown all over the world.  

Technically, from a botanical point of view, squash is a fruit because it contains the seeds of the plant. Squash are divided into two categories: summer and winter.  

Summer Squash

Summer squash have four varieties; crookneck, zucchini, straight neck and scallop. These squash are completely edible with thin skins and seeds, therefore can be eaten raw or cooked. Because of their high water content they are best stir fried or grilled for health reasons and to prevent them from getting mushy. Steaming, baking, and simmering are all methods that can be used to prepare summer squash.  

THE Health Benefits of Squash

Summer squash are very nutritional: rich in vitamins A and C, magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, potassium and vitamin B6. They are also high in manganese which helps process fats and glucose in our bodies.  Summer squash are heart healthy - the presence of magnesium and potassium helps control blood pressure. Folate aids the body in removing toxins which contribute to heart attacks and strokes.  

Summer squash also aids sight because they are high in beta carotene and lutein, which aids in the prevention of cataracts and macular degeneration.  In addition, summer squash boosts our immune system, aids our digestive system, regulates our blood sugar, and is good for our bones.  

4 Ways to Consume Squash

Googling for squash recipes will produce more than 35 million results. Recipes for its’ use are plentiful, but here are the way we like to eat squash. 

1. Boiled Patty Pan squash.

I used to love eating potatoes by the bag.  While I still occasionally eat a potato, I simply can’t eat them like I used to, thus one of my favorite ways to prepare Patty Pan or Scallop squash is to simply boil them. Don’t over boil them, but boil them until a knife will slip into them. I like to eat the boiled squash with a bit of salt and pepper, and even a small patty of butter. 

2. Stir-Fried Squash.

When we stir-fry our squash, we often use a variety of zucchini, patty pan, and yellow squash with onions. We use a table spoon or two (depending on the number of servings we are preparing) of olive oil, heat it without letting it get so hot that it starts smoking and then add the squash along with onion, mushrooms, or bell peppers.  Cook until soft, and add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Grilled Zucchini. 

I love grilled zucchini. We slice zucchini length wise into strips about 1/4 inch apiece. We have an olive oil mister which allows us to lightly cover them with oil and we grill them on the barbecue. If you like them softer, grill them longer. Finally, after the grilling we will often sprinkle some fat free feta cheese on them for flavor along with salt.  

4. Grated Squash.

This is a way we utilize zucchini that is completely different since we started eating clean. We grate zucchini and use it as a foundation for spaghetti. After grating, rinse the zucchini and then slightly heat it so it is not stone cold, but yet still firm (you can use a microwave or steamer). Pour spaghetti sauce over the top with ground turkey and sprinkle it with parmesan cheese. This really hits the spot for spaghetti without the heavy carbs from the pasta.  

Experiment on your own for how you might utilize squash. You might have not enjoyed squash in the past, but we encourage you to try the Andrews' recipes and see squash in a new light!