Like most vegetables, summer squash are high in heart-healthy potassium. One cup of cooked summer squash gives you more than three times the amount of the mineral found in the typical potassium supplement. Summer squash also boast a decent amount of vitamin A and beta-carotene and-best of all-more than 4,000 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that have been extensively studied for their benefits to eye health. (Both nutrients have been found in numerous studies to decrease the risk for macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over age 65.)
Squash also have a high water content, which makes them a "high-volume" food-one that gives you a lot of nutrition for a very small number of calories. Because they're both filling and low calorie, squash can be an integral part of any successful weight loss program.
Easy Curried Raw "Noodles"
This quick-and-easy dish uses only raw ingredients, so all of the nutrients are very bioavailable. Plus, the curry powder is rich in turmeric, which is loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds.
3 Tbs. raw almond butter
3 Tbs. low-sodium tamari
3 tsp. curry powder
3 medium organic summer squash
1/4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine almond butter, tamari, and curry powder in large bowl, and whisk until well mixed. Set aside.
- Trim ends off squash. Using mandolin or sharp vegetable peeler, slice squash lengthwise into long, thin strips.
- Add squash strips to bowl, and gently toss with almond butter mixture until well coated. Add coconut, raisins, and cilantro, and toss until evenly distributed. Serve immediately, or chill for up to 48 hours.
PER SERVING: 132 CAL; 5 G PROT; 7 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 14 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 356 MG SOD; 3 G FIBER; 8 G SUGARS
Notes from Chef Jeannette
When choosing fresh summer squash, look for small to medium squash with high, bright color (usually green, yellow, or orange) and clean, clear skin (no bruises or other discolorations). Avoid large or oversized squash, as they are usually tougher and not as flavorful.
Plan to prepare your squash as soon after purchasing as possible, as squash do not store well beyond a couple of days. If you can't prepare your dish right away, handle the squash gently and store it in the vegetable crisper in the fridge. Because the skins of summer squash are tender and delicious enough to eat raw, choose organic whenever possible to avoid consuming any absorbed pesticides.