July’s Seasonal Produce: Yellow Squash

ZucchiniImage cortesy of khumthong at freedigitalphotos.net

As you know eating in season is great for the environment and for ourselves plus it is a convenient why to talk about nutrition with our families and children. The months of July and August offer an abundance of fruits and vegetables at the height of the summer. Here is a brief list of a few of those foods:

  • Corn
  • Strawberries
  • Summer squash
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Melon

The above list may contain foods that you cook for your family and that kids like. Peaches, strawberries, corn, apples, and carrots to name a few tend to please both kids and adults. Today though I’d like to introduce you to one that you may or may not have cooked for your kids before: summer squash.

NUTRIENT FACTS FOR SUMMER SQUASH

Summer squash is a good source of vitamins C and A (in the form of beta-carotene), fiber, and a great source of manganese and potassium.

Vitamins C and A are antioxidants in the body which means they help to prevent damage to the DNA which can lead to mutations. In addition, vitamin A helps to support healthy eyesight especially night vision, decreases risk of cataracts and may slow down macular degeneration.  Vitamin C helps keep skin looking healthy and bones strong.

Its greatest source of nutrients comes from manganese and potassium. These nutrients  support the metabolism and muscle contraction. Plus, manganese is known to aid in maintaining bone density with the help of vitamin C and potassium (which some research says may help with bone strengthening).

Below is a recipe that I adapted from a Mediterranean grilled summer squash recipe. I decided to swap out goat cheese for part skim cheddar cheese and baked it instead of grilling it.

BAKED YELLOW SQUASH WITH TOMATOES & CHEDDAR CHEESE

Serves 3-4  

Prep time: 5 mins. Cook time: 20 mins. Total time: 25 mins.

Ingredients:

2 yellow squash, tops cut.

1/2 tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or the juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/3 of a cup part skim, shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 grape tomatoes, diced

1/2 green onion, chopped

1/2 c. of defrosted corn

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon oregano

pinch of pepper

Directions:

1.) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2.) Rinse the vegetables in a colander and place aside.

3.) In a large pot of salted water boil yellow squash on high for 10 minutes or until tender.

4.) On a cutting board prepare the vegetables by dicing and chopping the tomatoes and green onion. Mix in a medium bowl.

5.) Defrost the frozen yellow corn in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Drain water and combine corn with tomato and green onion mixture.

6.) Add spices and lemon juice to the veggie mixture.

7.) Remove squash from the pot using a fork. Place on cutting board and cut lengthwise with a vegetable knife. Using a spoon dig the seeds out of the squash. Place on a baking sheet.

8.) Place on a baking sheet and spoon salad mixture on top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle cheese liberally on top. Bake for 5 minutes until cheese is melted and squash fully cooked. Serve with rice or red potatoes.

Alternatives: Instead of baking the squash try broiling it at 550 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or grill it for 3-5 minutes before stuffing the squash.

3 FACTS ABOUT THIS RECIPE

When shopping for the ingredients I was surprised to find out that the price was right. Working per diem means that I don’t always have much money to spend so I was pleased to discover that it fit within my budget; most of the  ingredients  I already had in my pantry.

Second, squash, green onions, and tomatoes can be grown in a backyard garden. If you grow these vegetables this recipe would be perfect for you and your family.

Thirdly, the recipe contains easy to use cooking methods so that with a little supervision the whole family can get cooking!

For more information on eating in season and the importance of sustainability please refer back to previous blog posts of mine.

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