You're probably familiar with stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes, and stuffed mushrooms. If you like stuffed veggies, another great option is stuffed squash. Summer squashes like zucchini, yellow squash, or the light green Mexican squash (calabacita) have a neutral flavor, so they’re an excellent base for whatever filling you want.
Summer squashes are low in calories and carbohydrates. That’s important for people with diabetes because controlling your carb intake can help you improve blood sugar levels. In comparison to a sandwich or taco, these stuffed zucchini boats help you enjoy great flavor with fewer calories.
Choosing a Healthy Filing
When you make stuffed veggies, it’s important to choose healthy ingredients for the stuffing or filling. As much as you can, you should use lean proteins, complex carbs, and non-starchy veggies.
You might be tempted to use red meat and a lot of cheese, but those ingredients add a lot of saturated fat. This type of fat can increase your blood cholesterol and hurt your heart health. For this reason, it’s important to minimize the quantity of saturated fat in your diet, especially if you have diabetes. Learn more about the link between diabetes and heart disease here.
This recipe for stuffed zucchini boats uses a combination of extra-lean ground turkey (which has only 2.5 grams of saturated fat) and black beans. The beans are a meatless protein, and they’re low in fat and high in fiber and other nutrients. By combining these two proteins, you lower the amount of saturated fat and increase the fiber, compared to just using ground turkey alone.
In place of a heaping handful of Oaxaca cheese (for example), this recipe uses Parmesan cheese. It’s not “traditional,” but Parmesan has a strong flavor, which means you can use a small amount and still have a ton of flavor. As a result, the final product will have less saturated fat, without compromising on flavor. Here are more heart-healthy tricks to get your cheese fix.
Mexican squash, or calabacitas, work great for this recipe, but if you can’t find them at your supermarket, that’s no problem: You can also use other squashes, like zucchini or yellow squash. And of course, this filling would be fantastic inside a pepper.