With summer just around the corner, many of us look forward to lighter fare for our evening meals. These chicken parmesan zucchini boats are full of flavor, quick to pull together, and, paired with a simple salad can be the perfect dinner for these late spring into summer days.
And, with all these whole-food ingredients, this dish brings many nutrients to the table too. For example, chicken is rich in protein, niacin (B3), vitamin B6, and selenium, a mineral that is necessary for proper immune function, and thyroid health (1).
Health benefits of this chicken parmesan zucchini boat meal
Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a summer squash that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This low-carb, low-calorie vegetable is high in essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese (2). Other plant compounds found in zucchini, like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, act as antioxidants protecting the body from damage from free radicals (3). These antioxidants have also been associated with reduced risk for chronic diseases like cardiovascular and eye-related diseases as well as several types of cancer (3).
Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are fruits of the nightshade family that are typically consumed as a vegetable. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, an essential vitamin needed to form blood vessels, muscle, cartilage, and collagen in the bone as well as being necessary for the body’s healing process (4). Also a good source of folate (vitamin B9), tomato consumption can aid normal tissue growth and cell function (5). Further, the consumption of carotenoids, like lycopene and beta carotene, in tomatoes has been associated with health benefits such as the reduced risk of stroke (6).
Parmesan cheese is a hard, aged cheese that is a good source of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A (7). And, although a dairy product, parmesan can be a good option for those who are lactose intolerant as most of the lactose is drained off during the processing and only trace amounts of lactose remain after the ripening of the cheese, so look for a parmesan that has been aged for 12 months or more (8). The calcium and phosphorus content of parmesan cheese may also play a role in better bone health, as higher dietary intakes of calcium and phosphorus have been associated with increased bone mass (9).
Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats Recipe
4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
¾ pound chicken, cooked/cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. thyme leaves
2 tbsp. bone broth
2 tomatoes, diced
¼ cup coconut cream
¾ cup parmesan, grated
1 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Score and scoop out the insides of the zucchini and set aside. Place the zucchini boats on a large lined baking sheet and drizzle with the oil, season with salt/pepper, and thyme leaves. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes. While the zucchini boats bake, add the bone broth, cooked chicken, zucchini insides, tomatoes, and garlic to a large pan and heat through. Add the cream and lemon juice and cook until reduced, about 5-10 minutes. Carefully take the zucchini boats from the oven and fill them with the chicken mixture. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Garnish with nutritional yeast and parsley before serving.
Here’s another take on Zucchini Boats.