With quirky names like pattypan, eightball and crookneck, summer squashes come in a variety of shapes and colors and supply a wealth of health benefits. These squashes promote hearth health with a trio of nutrients: potassium, vitamin C and fiber—and only 36 calories per cup. Studies show that people who eat several servings of vegetables daily, including zucchini and other summer squashes, effectively lower their blood pressure and circulating cholesterol levels. Phytonutrients in zucchini and crookneck also show anti-cancer benefits.
Since skin and all make it to your mouth, select shiny and unblemished squash with tender skin. Use sliced in stir-fries and added to soups, stews and casseroles, along with grating over salads or as a filling in sandwiches. You can even “sneak” a serving of vegetables using grated squash in muffins and quick bread recipes. Grilled squashes make an excellent addition to summertime meals. Slice lengthwise and drizzle lightly with olive oil and seasonings; place on a hot grill, cooking a few minutes on each side.