Several days ago I wrote about a study from HealthGrove identifying the best 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. The researchers compiled the list by creating an algorithm based upon the top vitamins and minerals to support skin and hair health and calculating which foods were highest in those nutrients and lowest in unhealthy, pro-inflammatory factors. As I explained at the time, all but 3 of the 30 are WHOLE30 foods, the remaining 3 being legumes (i.e. beans). I then issued myself a challenge to create all new Paleo / WHOLE30 recipes with each of the 27 foods.
In case you missed it, my first attempt was based on #20 (broccoli) from the list of beautifying foods. Incidentally, that recipe and this one both use instant potato flakes. It has come to my attention that some brands of instant potato flakes contain various preservatives including sulfites, which are not approved for consumption during WHOLE30 (and which are unhealthy for us to eat at any time). I highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill Potato Flakes. You can purchase this product online through iHerb or Amazon, and it is available in many grocery stores. The moral of the story – it’s always important to check the ingredient lists of any products you purchase, especially when doing WHOLE30.
So with all that said, today’s mystery ingredient is (drum roll please) – ZUCCHINI!
I love the green summer squash for it’s mild flavor and versatility. The following recipe offers you two high protein, vegetable-heavy main-dish treatment options for stuffed zucchini. The great thing about this recipe is that you can prepare both options using 5 zucchini and 1 pound of ground turkey breast plus a few pantry staples. Both treatments received rave reviews from my family. None of us could choose a favorite, so I am sharing both. Option #1 is savory with an Italian flavor and seasonings. I served the savory zucchini boats with my Paleo Cheez Sauce along side. The tangy, creaminess of the sauce provided a wonderful compliment to the tomato and turkey stuffing. I also think the Cheez Sauce makes this option a bit more kid-friendly.
Option #2 is savory/sweet with what my mother described as “an almost Persian taste.” I’m not sure about that. I suspect she was referencing the flavor and texture of the figs. If you or your family don’t like figs – or you just don’t happen to have any in the house at present – you can certainly substitute raisins or prunes for that matter. I wouldn’t use dates for this recipe, however. They’re just too sweet. Also, if you’re actively doing WHOLE30,
remember to always be mindful to avoid any dried fruits preserved with sulfites which (as noted above) are off limits during the program. If you’re on the fence about figs and need a reason to give them a try, check out this link to find out why figs are among the world’s healthiest foods and one of the best guardians of health.
One final note, this is not a difficult recipe, nor are the ingredients terribly exotic or tough to come by. It is, however, time-consuming as you may have guessed if you skipped ahead to read the process. This is the type of recipe that is likely to impress guests and is sure to please even those not following special dietary regimens. For those reasons, I would suggest saving this for a weekend meal or some day when you have a little extra time to prepare dinner. Wishing you good health and delicious meals!
• 5 medium-large zucchini
• 2 tsp. iodized sea salt, divided
• 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey breast
• 2 Tbsp. organic coconut oil, divided
• 1 cup walnuts, divided
• Nonstick cooking spray (I used Pam nonstick coconut oil spray)
For Savory Stuffed Zucchini
• 1 can diced tomatoes, well drained (be sure the brand you buy has no added sugar or unapproved additives)
• ¼ tsp. garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
• ¼ tsp. dried oregano
• ½ small sweet onion, diced
• ½ red bell pepper, diced
• ¼ cup instant potato flakes, e.g. Bob’s Red Mill
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• ½ tsp. grated lemon peel
• 2 Tbsp. nutrient yeast (optional)
For Sweet-N-Savory Stuffed Zucchini
• 10 dried figs or 1/3 cup raisins (for WHOLE30 be sure to use sulfite-free figs such as these or these raisins)
• 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
• 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp. allspice
• pinch ground cloves
• pinch pure stevia (omit during WHOLE30)
• 2 – 8” Baking Dishes
• 2 – small/medium sized mixing bowls
• Melon Baller or small spoon
• Lemon zester
• Potato masher
• Chef’s knife
• Cutting board(s)
• Large nonstick frying pan
1. Wash and dry each zucchini. Transfer to cutting board.
2. Remove stems, and cut each zucchini in half length-wise.
3. Using melon-baller or small pointy spoon, scoop out inside pulp from each zucchini half and place into large bowl.
4. Place hollowed zucchini “boats” into a ziplock freezer bag and store in refrigerator. Place pulp in a bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Cover and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.
5. When ready to cook, place the zucchini pulp in a large colander and rinse well under running water. Shake colander to remove excess water. Then gently pat pulp dry.
6. Spray a large frying pan with nonstick spray then place it over MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT.
7. Add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil to the pan and allow oil to melt. Then place ground turkey breast, zucchini pulp and 1 tsp. salt in pan and brown stirring continuously to break up and lumps. You may need to use a potato masher at the end of cooking to ensure the mixture is broken up into even chunks that will fit nicely into the boats. (see pic below)
8. Divide this mixture equally into 2 large mixing bowls. Then wash and dry pan to prepare for reuse.
9. For Savory Zucchini Boats:
Drain tomatoes well and add to turkey mixture along with ½ cup walnuts, garlic, oregano and ½ tsp. salt. Place frying pan over MEDIUM heat and add remaining 1 Tbsp. coconut oil. Heat oil until it melts. Then add pepper and onion. Cook veggies over MEDIUM heat until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning (N.B. If you’re lazy, like me, you can save time and cleanup by tossing the peppers, onion and oil into a microwave-safe bowl and nuking on HIGH for 4 minutes. Then proceed as above). Add cooked onions and peppers to turkey/tomato mixture and stir to combine. Next add dry potato flakes, nutrient yeast, lemon peel and juice. Stir to combine and test for seasoning, adjusting to taste.
10. For Sweet –N- Savory Zucchini Boats:
Using clean kitchen sheers, snip figs into fourths and stir into ground turkey and zucchini mixture. If using raisins, simply add to turkey mixture. Next add applesauce, remaining ½ cup walnuts, vinegar and spices (including stevia if using). Stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
11. Preheat oven to 375° and prepare baking dishes by lining both dishes with tin foil (for easier cleanup), then spraying lined dishes with nonstick coconut oil spray. Place 5 zucchini halves in each baking dish.
12. Scoop savory mixture into the 5 “boats” in one baking dish and repeat with sweet/savory mixture in second baking dish. You may need to press mixture down firmly in order to get all mixture into the zucchini. It’s okay if they seem overstuffed. Then cover both dishes with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven.
13. Bake for 45 minutes. Then remove baking dishes from oven and increase temperature to 400°.
14. Meanwhile, remove foil cover from baking dishes. (At this point, I sprinkled the savory zucchini boats with a bit more nutrient yeast, but that’s totally optional. I didn’t notice it made much difference in terms of flavor.) Once oven temp has reached 400° return dishes to oven. Cook for 15 minutes longer.
15. Remove both baking dishes from oven. Allow to rest, very loosely covered, for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Wisdom of the Day:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Matthew 5:6-8 (NASB)
Read more here.
Resource of the Day:
Curious as to what exactly constitutes a well-stocked WHOLE30 pantry? Check out the WHOLE30 Pantry Stocking Guide.