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A delicious and nutritious summer staple, zucchini is one of America’s favorite veggies. However, the zucchini harvest is so prolific this time of the year, it can be hard to keep up with picking and eating them all! Celebrate this versatile veggie by taking part in National Zucchini Day on Aug. 8. Leave a few extra “green baseball bats” on your neighbors’ porches for them to enjoy!

Fun National Zucchini Day Facts:

  • Zucchinis are 95 percent water, with just 33 calories in a medium-size squash.
  • One zucchini has more potassium than a banana, supplying more than 10 percent of your daily need.
  • Summer squash is rich in carotenoids, powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants that are mostly found in its skin. So be sure not to peel your squash. And buy organic to avoid pesticide residues.

3 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Zucchini on National Zucchini Day:

1. Grill it – A great option for grilling on National Zucchini Day, all you do is cut some zucchini lengthwise into quarters and marinate in a mixture of extra-virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic, and rosemary for 30 minutes to 1 hour; then, preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and grill each quarter for 3-5 minutes per side, or until grill marks have formed and the zucchini is fork-tender. Use extra marinade as a dressing.

2. Make “pasta” with it – Use a vegetable peeler to peel thin strips of “pasta” from the zucchini. Toss with homemade pesto or olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You can also grate zucchini on the medium side of a box grater and toss it into any pasta dish to up the nutritional value.

3. Bake it into healthy “fries” – Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut zucchini lengthwise into quarters, then cut each of the quarters in half. Place ½ cup flour, a beaten egg, and ½ cup bread crumbs in three separate shallow dishes, and season each with salt and pepper. Dip the zucchini spears in the flour first, then in the egg, and finally, in the bread crumbs, until lightly coated. Place on a baking sheet (preferably one fitted with a wire rack), drizzle with a little olive oil, bake 15-25 minutes (or until golden brown), and voilà: healthy zucchini fries!

Celebrate zucchini on National Zucchini Day with these delicious, easy-to-prepare dishes!

Annika Ihnat is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and communications consultant with a passion for advancing public health, education, social justice, and sustainable food. When she’s not writing grant proposals or consulting for nonprofits on communications and development, you can find her practicing yoga, delighting in nature, or cooking up her latest farmers market finds for family and friends.

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