Have you started your summer garden yet? If not, make sure to plant summer’s most prolific producers – the squash plant. Squash has been around for years. In fact, scientists found a variety of summer squash seeds that were preserved in Mexican caves from over 10,000 years ago.

The History of Sumer Squash

Native Americans planted squash with corn and beans. This trio was referred to as the three sisters. Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb and bean vines stabilize the corn plants so they don’t blow over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines act as a living mulch, both shading weeds and preventing moisture in the soil from evaporating. Spiny squash plants discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans, and at the end of the season any leftover stems and stalks are tilled back into the soil, building up organic matter for next year’s planting.

The Health Benefits of Summer Squash

The health benefits associated with eating summer squash are impressive. Sumner squash contains many antioxidant and health benefits; are good source of manganese and vitamin C; and are beneficial for maintaining healthy eyes – including protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

When it comes to health benefits, steaming summer squash is better than boiling or microwaving, as is leaving on the skin when cooking. Both the skin and steaming help to retain nutrients. Eating summer squash also benefits blood sugar, provides anti-inflammatory benefits, antimicrobial protection, prostate health support, and anti-cancer benefits.

Summer Squash Recipes

Squash comes in many different shapes, colors, sizes and flavors, but no matter which variety you choose the flesh, seeds and skin are all edible; some varieties even produce edible flowers.

Summer squashes are very versatile in the kitchen and combine easily with lots of different ingredients. They are perfect in salads, sautéed or steamed, baked in bread, and combined with eggs. And now for all the summer squash recipes your heart and stomach desires, or at last four:

From Renee’s Garden (also one of the best places to get seeds with heirloom varieties)

Simply cut up vegetables in one inch chunks or slices, toss them with olive oil (flavored with garlic if you desire), and grill them slowly over medium heat until softened and slightly charred. To finish, sprinkle with a little good quality balsamic vinegar and a handful of your favorite finely chopped herbs. Dust with freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese if you like and grind a little fresh pepper over all. Any leftover vegetables make a fabulous lunch the next day served with crusty bread and a green salad.

Food 52 Blog’s Best Summer Squash Recipe – They held a contest for the best summer squash recipe. Look here for all contest entries and the winner!

Cooks Garden Summer Squash Recipe– Another wonderful seed catalog with a delicious recipe for summer squash and fish. Wrap your food in parchment paper, and you are entitled to use the fancy French term en papillote, which means “in an envelope.

Full Sun Farm offers up this recipe for Squashamole – Any kind of summer squash can be used, which makes this squash-based “guacamole” especially useful – plus it’s fun to say – squashamole.