Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Zucchini is versatile and healthy

Anyone who has grown zucchini knows just how prolific and versatile this summer squash can be.

Anyone who has grown zucchini knows just how prolific and versatile this summer squash can be.

Though botanically zucchini is a fruit, it is considered a vegetable world-over and is one of the very low calorie vegetables.

It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and its peel is a good source of dietary fibre. Both raw and cooked zucchini are great for the overall health of an individual.

Zucchinis have anti-oxidant value and are awesome for the heart. This versatile summer squash helps in weight loss, improves eye health, guards against asthma and strengthens teeth and bones. Consuming zucchini helps to lower cholesterol and is also healthy for the skin, giving it a glow and restoring its moisture.

There is no end to how zucchini can be used in cooking. Today I have a very  super-quick and easy side or main dish that puts leftover summer veggies to great use, and don’t you just love it when you can get your daily vegetable requirements from the dessert you eat? The chocolate  dessert cake below does just that!

Tomato-Zucchini Bake

Cooking spray

1 pound sliced zucchini

1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1-1/4 pounds sliced vine-ripened tomatoes

1/2 cup panko

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a two-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray, and alternately layer sliced zucchini, corn kernels, and sliced tomatoes. Combine panko and Parmesan, and sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered, in the centre of oven 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cover with foil, and bake for 10 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. Serve immediately.

Zucchini Chocolate Dessert Cake

1⁄2 cup butter

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

1-3⁄4 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1⁄2 cup buttermilk or 1⁄2 cup sour milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄4 cup cocoa

2-1⁄2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups zucchini, grated

3⁄4 cup chocolate chips

1⁄2 cup walnuts

Cream butter then add oil and sugar; mix.

Add next 8 ingredients; mix well.

Fold in the chips and nuts by hand.

Put in a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until done.

– Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.