Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chicken Lasagna Zucchini Boats

How often have you found yourself struggling for ideas on what to make for dinner?  I know my husband and I aren't the only ones.  We're constantly trying to think of different meals that we can make for our family.....especially healthier meals.

Late 2015 I started changing how I eat by following a keto-adapted diet.  I won't get into all of that in this post, but choosing to lead a low-carb high-fat lifestyle has helped me make better meals for my family (and I've lost over 100 lbs.....I'll share how I did it in another post - promise).  While I'm all in and committed to this new way of eating, not everyone in my house is and that's okay.  I'd love if they could all be on board and hopefully they'll get there, but for steps.

In trying to merge our traditional weeknight meals that we love with meals that fit into my diet, I've had to adjust meal planning just a bit.  We make meals based around what I can eat....and the kids (and sometimes my hubby) get to have a side dish that I most likely won't rice, potatoes, bread, etc.  That's the easy part, because I can eat a lot of different foods....which is awesome and I'm not deprived....the trick is being able to mix it up.  Like, well, what if we want Chinese?  We can have Stir Fried Beef with rice for me.  What about Spaghetti....I can make regular pasta for the rest of the family and I'll roast a spaghetti squash and top it with meat sauce.  Everyone wins.  Traditional meals that we love, but I have the option of choosing food that is healthier.

One of my go to meals now when we're trying to figure out what to make for dinner is zucchini boats.  I love making them because you can pretty much add different fillings to them and they're perfect for a keto lifestyle.  Plus, my kids really like them....which is another huge win.

I first heard of zucchini boats after watching one of those fun quick minute meal videos you see on Facebook.  The video showed in several steps how to make pepperoni 'pizza' zucchini boats.  This girl loves pizza - but it's obviously not low-carb....but here was an option to get the flavors of pizza and it is keto-friendly.  I was instantly hooked.  Once I realized how versatile zucchini boats were, it became one of my go to meals for dinner.  We can make cheese steak zucchini boats, crab-filled zucchini boats, taco style zucchini boats.....the list goes on.  They're also great for adding to your meal planning menu.

You can prep these ahead of time by having your meat seasoned and pre-cooked, veggies cut up  and sauce on hand in your pantry.  I used the new Homestyle Ragu sauce for the recipe I'm sharing today.  I love that it tastes homemade, doesn't have high fructose corn syrup (a keto no-no), no artificial ingredients.....and the sauce itself is nice and thick!  I am telling you....I'm a sauce snob....I either make it myself or buy a basic sauce and add extra seasoning to it, but this sauce doesn't need anything extra at all!  It's definitely going to be a staple in our pantry.  Head over to their site and check out some of their delicious recipes!

Making the actual boats is fairly easy.  You just slice them lengthwise, hollow out the center with a scoop (save the scooped out flesh because you will add it to your mixture), then you fill the boats with a cheese mixture just like you would for lasagna!

I always like to try something new each time I make them.  I thought of adding bacon, but since this is an Italian style meal, I added pancetta!  YUUUUMMM!!!  After rendering down the pork, I added a bit of olive oil and seasoned a few pieces of chicken with a bit of salt and doesn't need much because cooking the chicken in the same pan the pancetta is cooked in will pick up those flavors.....double YUUUUUMMMM!  Once the chicken is cooked, I add in the scooped out bits from the zucchini, added the Homestyle Ragu sauce and let it cook until warmed through.

The next steps are easy, you just top the filled boats with the meat and sauce mixture, top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a covered dish for about 25 minutes.

I like  to always add a little extra cheese when I'm baking dishes like this.  So, I tend to go back in and add a bit more cheese and let it cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes.

When the zucchini is ready, you can serve it with a simple side salad.  If your family prefers pasta, a small serving of penne or cavatappi would work great with this as a meal, as well.

I'll definitely be creating more dishes like this and making more family traditions with RAGÚ® Here's my recipe for delicious chicken lasagna zucchini boats!  

Learn more about RAGÚ® Homestyle Sauces and discover more recipes for the family here 

What are some of your favorite weeknight meals?  I'd love to hear!!!
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