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Crisp and Cool Cucumbers, Versatile Zucchini

Veggie Spotlight — Crisp and Cool Homegrown Cucumbers

One of the true harbingers of summer. The fourth most widely cultivated “vegetable” in the world, the cucumber, related to both the melon and squash families, is technically a fruit. With its mild, refreshing flavor that mixes so well with other garden offerings, cucumbers are actually 90% water, but still manage to provide many valuable health benefits.

Cucumbers are also known to be an excellent source of vitamins, including anti-inflammatory vitamin K, infection-fighting vitamin C, and energy-producing pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Body-beneficial minerals include bone-building manganese, as well as potassium and magnesium, both good for your heart.
For those who’ve noticed their cucumbers seem to deteriorate soon after refrigerating them, U.C. Davis has reported that cucumbers maintain freshness longer when stored at room temperature.

Cucumbers are also highly sensitive to ethylene, a natural plant hormone responsible for initiating the ripening process in several fruits and vegetables, so another recommendation is to store cucumbers away from bananas, melons, and tomatoes because of the natural ethylene they generate.

The Incredibly Versatile Zucchini

For many people, summertime is simply incomplete without serving a delicious array of scrumptious green vegetables. But here’s an idea: why not take a break from the usual leafy green salads, and dig into a plateful of succulent zucchini instead?

You won’t run out of uses for zucchini, as it is a highly versatile food that can suit many recipes. Mix it into soups, salads, or frittatas, serve it as a side dish with your meat dishes, or make “zucchini fries,” served with an onion dip as an appetizer. Want a healthy, no-grain and no-wheat pasta? Make zucchini “noodles” using a vegetable peeler – it will be as al dente as regular spaghetti. And lets not forget zucchini bread or cake.

You’ll surely be impressed with the nutritional bounty that zucchini offers. It’s low-calorie (with only 17 calories per 100 grams) and high in fiber, and has no cholesterol or unhealthy fats. It’s also rich in flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, carotenes, and lutein, which play a significant role in slowing down aging and preventing diseases with their free radical-zapping properties. Zucchini is also a wonderful source of potassium, a heart-friendly nutrient that helps moderate your blood pressure levels and counters the effects of too much sodium. In fact, a zucchini has more potassium than a banana. Zucchini is rich in B-complex vitamins, folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline, as well as minerals like zinc and magnesium, which are all valuable in ensuring healthy blood sugar regulation – a definite advantage for diabetics. It also contains essential minerals such as iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Where Are The Strawberries?

For all you fruit lovers, the early season this year has been incredibly difficult for fruit production. We had a very hot spell early in the season,followed by cool, damp weather and now the warmth again. These variations can greatly impact small fruit production.