Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats! Serve these as a side dish or appetizer at your Labor Day cookout. Try this recipe plus other lighter options for a healthier Labor Day BBQ!!
I was always a big eater. Growing up in Texas had something to do with that. Everything is bigger and better in Texas, including the serving sizes for food. And we’re not talking about light, healthy food either. I grew up eating a mix of fast food hamburgers, ribs, macaroni and cheese, steaks, Korean food and more BBQ ribs. My mother did feed us fruits and vegetables but we just didn’t eat enough of them.
My father loved to barbecue, and he loved entertaining and eating. You can probably imagine the spread of food that we would have. It was outrageous. We always had people over for barbecues all summer long and the Labor Day BBQ was probably the biggest because it was the last one for the summer. Our grill would be covered with tons of meat: burgers, chicken, hot dogs and more. I don’t ever recall my father grilling any type of vegetable.
According to my father, the grill was sacred and only for meat.
But that was then. I feel like people these days are more health conscious and are much more mindful and purposeful about what they put into their mouths and bodies.
As a mother, I want my children to be exposed to healthier foods. I feel very strongly that children’s eating habits are cultivated at a young age. If they are only exposed to fast food, chicken nuggets, donuts, juice boxes and chocolate milk, that’s all they are going to want.
I have my kids help me in the kitchen a lot. Some days, they love it and some days, they just want to play and they don’t want any part of the meal prep. Either way, I just like giving them the option and more importantly, I want them to eat what I am making.
My kids and I love zucchini so making these quinoa stuffed zucchini boats was so fun! Plus, I feel like zucchini and tomatoes are always so plentiful this time of the year. Those seem to be the vegetables that everyone is able to grow. I feel like a lot of my friends are always asking for zucchini and tomato recipes because they have so many.
We made these Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats and they are absolutely delicious! Truth be told, my kids don’t really care for quinoa, so they will eat these zucchini boats stuffed with lean ground beef or ground turkey with marinara sauce over them. I couldn’t pass on the kale and quinoa because I love them so much together and they are so good for you.
Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat. It’s also filled with lots of nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium. Quinoa is “naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber. It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.”*
It’s amazing what eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis does to you! So many people are trying to find that magical formula to loosing weight and staying healthy. I’ll tell you what it is! It’s eating a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. It’s about taking care of yourself (and your family) inside and out.
So, for those who are looking to eat healthier, or maybe you’re already eating healthy and need some recipe inspiration?
You can host a delicious Labor Day BBQ and keep the menu healthy! For starters, make these Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats! I hope you give these a try!
Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats
For the romesco sauce:
- 1 slice crusty bread cut into cubes
- 1 cup drained and chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 to 4 tablespoons water
For the zucchini boats:
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup uncooked red quinoa rinsed and drained
- 2 green onions chopped, white and green parts divided
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 8-oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves minced
- 2 bunches kale stem fully removed and chopped
- 6 to 8 medium to large sized zucchini
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Scatter the bread cubes on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 350 degrees.
- Place the bread cubes, roasted red bell peppers, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, pinch of kosher salt and paprika in a food processor and pulse or process until smooth. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Set aside.
- Using a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over high heat, bring the stock and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all of the chicken stock is absorbed. Season with salt and sprinkle the white parts of the green onions over the quinoa and mix together gently. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Using a large non-stick pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 6 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened and browned. Add in the chopped kale, season with a pinch of kosher salt and cook until softened, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly; then mix with the cooked quinoa. Set aside.
- Trim the ends off each zucchini. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, gently scoop out the pulp. Lay the prepped zucchini boats into a baking dish and fill each one with the kale and quinoa mixture. Repeat until all are prepped and filled.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until the zucchini is somewhat tender. Top with the romesco sauce, sprinkle with diced green onions and serve.
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Here are more menu ideas to help you host a healthier Labor Day BBQ:
Caprese Kabobs with Balsamic Glaze
Disclosure: This is a paid, sponsored post in partnership with Providence St. Joseph Health. All opinions started here are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting me in partnering with campaigns that I believe in and feel passionate about.