Healthy ways to veg out

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I’ll admit, I’m guilty of forgetting to eat vegetables sometimes. It’s hard to keep up a healthy menu with a full course load while working part time, volunteering, and whatever else we students do to keep as busy as possible. Since it’s finally fall, which means sick season is in full swing, here’s a very versatile way to get a veggie booster.

This recipe can pretty much be anything you want it to be. All you need are some hollowed-out veggies, like bell peppers, portabella mushrooms, zucchini, or even other squash, and a mixture of protein and more veggies to stuff inside of it. Because why not cram as many vegetables into one meal as possible? My roommate tried it out with acorn squash and quinoa, but you may easily use ground meat in your veggie mixture. And if you have too much stuffing, save it to try in a different veggie next time.

The spice palate for this is also up in the air, depending on your craving. You can give it some Mexican flavour with cumin, cayenne, and coriander, topped with fresh cilantro. Or replace cayenne with curry powder, keep the cilantro, and if you’re feeling it, toss some shredded coconut in the mix. Or aim for a simple Italian flare with some basil, oregano, salt and pepper. I usually go by taste, so start with a pinch of each spice and adjust until you’re content. Always try your cooking as you go to make sure it’s edible.

Do me a favour and take a study break to cook. It’s a productive way to get your mind off of class and get some healthy food in your system. Just add your favourite music and spices, and veg out!

Vegged-Out Veggies

(featuring squash)
(Makes at least two servings)

  • 1 medium acorn squash or 1–2 large zucchinis
  • Half a small onion, minced
  • Half a red pepper, minced
  • 2–3 mushrooms, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ lb of protein (ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or even ½ cup of cooked quinoa)
  • 1 cup of cheese, grated (optional, depending on spices)
  • Olive oil
  • Spices

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. If using zucchini, cut off the bottom and stem of the zucchinis, then scoop out the seeds until they look boat-shaped, but don’t make the halves too thin or they’ll get flimsy and leak. You can even chop up the scooped-out parts and add to the veggie mix if you want.  No need to pre-roast.

Place the halves hollow-side-up in a baking dish filled about one quarter way with water. Roast at 375°F for 30 minutes or until tender.

While the squash is baking, heat some oil in a skillet and sauté the onions and ground meat until the meat is almost done. Add the rest of the veggies to the pan and cook until veggies are done and meat is browned. Season however you want. If you want cheese, stir in half a cup and melt until everything is coated and sticks together.

Drain any excess water from the squash baking dish. Keep the squash hollow-side-up and scoop in the veggie mix (and top with the rest of the cheese). Save any extra veggie mix for leftovers.

Bake for about five or 10 more minutes. Serve whole or scoop out smaller portions of squash and veggie mix into a bowl and enjoy!

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