If you’ve been wandering through the Farmer’s Markets lately (as you know, my favorite activity!), you’ve probably been seeing the explosion of colors as we move deeper into harvest time. Between the red grapes, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, blueberries, and eggplant – just for starters – there’s something to nourish every chakra, not to mention every taste!
I was passing by a booth at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market this past Sunday (as you know, my favorite happy place!) and noticed a display of squashes….and all I could say was WOW! Did you realize there are eight varieties of summer squash? And all of them in glorious shades of green and/or yellow…
So today I want to celebrate three of my favorite summer vegetables: zucchini and yellow squash, and eggplant, and see how they can give us Busy Professional Women more Zest and Harmony.
First of all, both zucchini and yellow squash pack a multivitamin’s worth of nutrition into a slender, tasty few inches. According to the George Mateljan Foundation’s website, they’re high in carbohydrates, protein and fiber, as well as vitamins A, B1, B6, B2, and C; potassium, magnesium, manganese, folate, copper, and phosphorus; along with omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and calcium, as well as the antioxidants alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. It would be hard to find a more nutrient-rich squash.
And that’s not all! With their high levels of magnesium and potassium, both the yellow and green summer squashes reduce high blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke, while their high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene may also help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol which can cause atherosclerosis, and their high folate levels help to remove homocysteine, which may contribute to the factors causing heart attack and stroke.
The beta-carotene and vitamin C in summer squash have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation and ease the symptoms of arthritis and asthma, while their high levels of fiber and water help to keep the gut functioning smoothly and prevent the onset of colon cancer. And diabetics get a special benefit from these powerhouse veggies: summer squash contains a unique polysaccharide structure that research demonstrates may promote better regulation of insulin and protection against diabetes.
And what about the energetic level?
Yellow squash helps to nourish the solar plexus chakra, coming into ripeness just at the turn of the seasons, when we need a strong power center at our core to help us set boundaries. How many Real-Life Superwomen I know (I used to be one!) who are giving a lot and don’t set limits to protect our energy levels! Then we wind up wondering why we’re stressed, exhausted and irritable – all symptoms of an unbalanced solar plexus chakra.
With its green color, zucchini supports your heart chakra…perfect for supporting you through the emotional challenges of season’s change, whether you’re walking your teen through the end of a first summer romance, or entering new emotional adventures of your own. That heart-chakra support can also bolster you against the stresses of work, and gives you the extra “oomph” you need to make positive changes when needed.
And then there is my other favorite summer vegetable, eggplant!
Technically, eggplant is neither a squash nor a vegetable – it actually a fruit and belongs to the nightshade family of fruits and vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes – but I use it in a lot of recipes with summer squashes (ah, ratatouille! Eggplant/zucchini/tomato tian! Grilled veggie kebab!). But like summer squash, eggplant packs a powerhouse of nutrients into that glossy purple or blue/black teardrop: fiber, copper, vitamins B1, B3, B6, and K, manganese, potassium, and folate, according to the George Mateljan Foundation’s website. It also contains a important phytonutrients, including phenolic compounds such as caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.
So what does this do for you? First, some of these compounds are powerful antioxidants, protecting your cell membranes from damage by free radicals. So eggplant is a potent ally against cancer, microbial infection, “bad” cholesterol, and viruses…as well as high blood pressure! One of these phytonutrients, nasunin, also acts as an iron chelator, removing excess iron from the bloodstream, thus reducing free radical damage to joints, which can cause rheumatoid arthritis; and preventing cellular damage that could lead to cancer.
On the energetic level, since eggplant is a blue/purple color, it nourishes the third eye chakra, helping us to listen to our inner wisdom and trust the process of life…key skills which are many times forgotten or undervalued by us Real-Life Superwomen.
Below are just a few ways to incorporate these nutritional powerhouses into your diet!
- Make a smoothie using frozen zucchini
- Make “pasta” with zucchini and yellow squash. You can either make it with a Spiralizer or Julienne Peeler.
- Roast these vegetables on the grill for Labor Day
- Sauté all three vegetables or just one of them such as eggplant with onions, garlic and tomatoes.
What is your favorite summer squash and summer squash recipe?