You can barely open a cookbook these days without seeing a photo of spiralised veggies, with courgetti being one of the most popular choices. And with good reason too!
Zucchini, or courgette as it’s more commonly known in this part of the world, is one of the very best foods for healthy and sustainable weight loss, thanks to its versatility and myriad of health benefits.
Sometimes called summer squash, courgette can be eaten hot or cold and works well in both savoury and sweet recipes. Extremely low in calories, with just 33 in a medium courgette, it’s also a relatively good source of dietary fibre, with about 2.5g per cup. Together, this makes it an ideal vegetable for helping you to feel full without loading up on excess energy.
Courgette isn’t a particularly rich source of protein, but it nonetheless contains all of the essential amino acids needed by our body each day for growth, repair and the production of enzymes, hormones and antibodies, amongst their many other functions.
As an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, with slightly smaller amounts of vitamin E, courgette is rich in antioxidant vitamins, to help protect your cells from damage by free radicals.
We usually associate dark leafy green veggies, berries, cacao and red and orange fruit and veg with antioxidants, but courgette contains key antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These are of particular benefit to eye health, which includes protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. A courgette’s skin is especially antioxidant-rich, so it’s worth leaving the skin intact, buying organic whenever possible and gently washing before eating.
In terms of essential minerals, courgette contains considerable amounts of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, with smaller quantities of calcium, iron and selenium. Pretty impressive nutrition for such a low-calorie vegetable. It even boasts small amounts of omega-3 fats, needed for a healthy brain and smooth, soft and youthful skin.
Spiralised raw courgette has soared in popularity in recent years, and makes a brilliant healthier alternative to spaghetti. But research indicates that courgette retains its antioxidants very well after steaming or lightly cooking, and this may suit some people better as not everyone can efficient digest raw vegetables. To enjoy the full antioxidant benefits of squash, aim to eat the skin, flesh and seeds.
This recipe for Creamy Courgette Noodles with Coriander Pesto makes a healthy, filling and nourishing lunch or dinner dish that takes very little time to prepare. Courgette noodles can be made with a spiraliser or vegetable peeler, and make a great low-calorie alternative to regular noodles. Homemade pesto sauces are so versatile, as they can be made from ingredients such as sun-dried tomato, basil, parsley and even rocket. Any fragrant herb works really well, and in this recipe I used coriander blended with toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, spices and seasoning.