By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 8/4/2015

Taking Over the Garden

                AAAhhhh, Summer Gardens.  I grew up with a huge garden.  I have such great memories of bountiful zucchini, tomatoes and lettuce…I have had my own.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the green thumb that my dad had.  I was never around enough to water adequately, nor did I have the know how to ward off all the bugs that enjoyed the benefits of the garden more than I did.  I can handle small pots of vegetables and do OK with that.  Someday, I want to have a large, successful garden of my own.  I love the fresh taste of just picked vegetables.  I love running out to the yard to pick the evening’s dinner.  I love to know where my food is coming from.  I love the money I would save too!  All I can say right now is…Some day.

My greatest memory is the massive amounts of zucchini that came out of our garden.  We grew so much zucchini that we had a hard time keeping up with it.  Not only did we eat it every night, but we gave so much away that I believe our neighbors ate it every night as well.  All summer squash are a bountiful vegetable.  Squash is categorized as “summer” due to its short storage life.  Zucchini and yellow squash will only last up to 1 week as opposed to winter squash (butternut, acorn… which will last much, much longer.)  Summer squash is also much lower calorie and carbohydrate than winter squash.  Summer squash provides only 20 calories per ½ cup. 

Summer squash has many benefits for our patients.  Not only is it low in calories, it is tolerated well and packed in good nutrition.  Summer squash is a great source of vitamin A, C, potassium, folate, fiber and antioxidants.  Eat all parts of the squash including the flesh, seeds and skin.  Be sure to eat the skin as it is where many of the nutrients are found.  Many patients do not tolerate skins such as apple skins, but patients do seem to do OK with cooked summer squash skins. 

There are numerous ways you can prepare summer squash including:  stuffing, baking, steaming and grilling.  One of my favorite recipes is the zu-canoe.  See below and Enjoy!


By eating well.com

Zucchini stuffed with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil make a fresh summer salad side dish.

4 servings/Active Time: 25 minutes/ Total Time: 25 minutes


2 medium 2 inch wide zucchini

½ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes

½ cup diced part skim mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh

¼ thinly sliced fresh basil


1.     Trim both ends of the zucchini; cut in half lengthwise. Cut a thin slice off the backs so each half sits flat.  Scoop out the pulp, leaving a ¼ inch shell.  Finely chop the pulp; set aside.

2.     Place the zucchini halves in a microwave-safe dish.  Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on high until tender crisp, 3 to 4 minutes (or steam in a steamer basket.)

3.     Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Add tomatoes, cheese, basil and the reserved zucchini pulp; toss to combine. Divide the filling among the zu-canoes.

Nutrition information:

Serves 4

87 calories, 2-4 grams fat, 7 gm carbohydrate, 7 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 408 mg sodium.   

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