A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to pick up lunch at a market we like in Westchester, New York. I was getting my usual salad, and he decided on a zucchini boat, which happened to look delicious. As we sat down to eat, I, of course, had to sample his dish. Yes, it was pretty tasty, but with its red meat, extra cheese and breadcrumbs, it was not a healthy option that I would select to eat on a regular basis.  BUT I had a feeling I could make my own healthier version.  So I got to work and came up with this simple recipe, which was a hit, and has become a regular staple in my house. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


  • 3 zucchini, ends removed, sliced lengthwise, and inside seeds scooped out
  • 1 pound ground chicken meat (you can use lean ground beef or lean turkey, but I prefer chicken)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (or 1 cup frozen spinach)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or cooking spray (to coat pan and baking tray)
  • 3/4 cup Rao’s marinara sauce (or other red sauce you like)
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated/shredded Parmesan cheese
  • red chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste (as desired)

(You can also add chopped peppers, mushroom, or any other desired vegetables!)

***Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Sauté chopped onion over medium heat in a coated pan (olive oil or cooking spray) until onions appear clear and start to brown. 
  2. Add spinach (and other vegetables if desired) and stir until it cooks down.
  3. Add ground chicken to pan. Continue to stir until meat is mostly cooked.  (It’s preferred that it is more under versus overcooked at this point, as it will have time to cook more in the oven later.)
  4. Add marinara sauce to chicken and vegetables. 
  5. Place zucchini boats on an oiled baking tray (olive oil or cooking spray) and begin to fill with chicken mixture. 
  6. Cook filled boats for about 40 minutes.
  7. At about 35 minutes remove from oven and add sprinkled cheeses as desired.  Place oven on broil for the last 1-2 minutes to melt cheese and brown as desired. 
  8. Remove from oven.  Add spices if desired and enjoy!  Don’t forget to make extra because they taste even better as leftovers the next day!  

Serving suggestions:

  • Add a sweet potato, brown rice, or quinoa for a hearty hot meal.
  • Have a side of whole grain or brown rice pasta with red sauce to satisfy your pasta/Italian cravings.
  • Enjoy with a tossed salad for a light lunch.
  • Slice up the boats to serve as appetizers at your next dinner party (or so they are small enough for kid hands to enjoy).
  • See my other ideas on Instagram!

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