I am the mother of three beautiful children – two girls, almost 5 and 2 ½, and a 9-month-old baby boy. I have spent the better part of the last 5 ½ years either gaining weight in a pregnancy, or trying to lose weight post-partum.
I have found that, for me, going on a reduced-carbohydrate diet is the easiest way to lose that baby weight.
In light of the fact that a low-carb diet still has the higher caloric intake that you need to produce the right amount of breast milk, it has also been the only real option for me, as a breastfeeding mother.
With that in mind, I have spent a good portion of the last 5-plus years looking for and trying tons of different low-carb meals.
It’s become something of an obsession for me. I’d call myself a foodie, and I love cooking and baking. I have been on a mission to find food that is fun to cook, delicious to eat (delicious enough for my somewhat picky husband to enjoy, too), and low enough in carbs to help me meet my weight loss goals.
I’d like to begin sharing some of my favorite recipes with you now, and I promise, you won’t miss the carbs one bit!
2cupsshredded Monterey Jack cheeseyou could use Pepper Jack if you want to kick it up a notch
Coat a 9x13 baking dish with a little cooking spray. I just use an olive oil mister. Halve your zucchini and scoop out the insides to make a nice “boat” for your filling. I can fit 6 halves in my baking dish, but if your zucchini are on the smaller side, you could fit up to 8. Lay your zucchini halves in the baking dish and set aside.
Now, this next step is optional, but since my husband hates crunchy veggies, and the onion and jalapeno don’t get really soft in the meat mixture when it bakes, I sauté my onion and jalapeno in a pan over medium-high heat until they are soft. Then I add my garlic and cook it for another couple of minutes. This process adds about 10 minutes to the prep time.
Scrape the cooked onion, jalapeno, and garlic into a large bowl. Add in the ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, one can of tomato sauce, and ¾ of the shredded cheese. I use my hands so as not to over-mix, but you could use a big spoon or spatula, but you just need to lightly toss all the ingredients together, just until they are well combined. If you mix the meat too much, it will be tough when it comes out of the oven.
Take a spoon, and scoop the filling into each of the zucchini halves. I pile mine really high, so you get a good portion of meat to zucchini. This makes a lot of filling, so you can really fill them up to use up all the meat. Once you have all the “boats” full, take your second can of tomato sauce and pour equal amounts over each of them.
Bake the zucchini boats for 45 minutes. Then, remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle the remaining Monterey Jack all over the top. Cook another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is all melted. Let the dish rest for about 10-20 minutes so it can set up. Since this dish uses no breadcrumbs to really hold the meat filling together, it tends to fall apart a bit if you try to eat it right away. When you let it sit a few minutes, the cheese in the mixture tightens back up and holds together better.
This recipe is one of my favorite go-to meals, especially in the summer, when I always have a ton of zucchini to use.
You can change up the flavor profile by using half feta cheese and half Mozzarella, red bell pepper, Italian seasoning, and half ground beef and half Italian sausage (instead of using the Monterey Jack, jalapeno, Mexican spices, and all ground beef)to make a more Italian meal, which is just as scrumptious as the original recipe.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. It really is so good, and if you just add a side salad, you have a complete dinner.
Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.