Stuffed Squash – Autumnal Flavours without Winter Calories for 5:2 Diet:
Using up leftovers of meat if you are dieting can be quite a challenge. When I am not dieting or on a 5:2 diet fast day, I would normally use leftover chicken or ham in a risotto or pasta dish. Once meat has been cooked it tends to be a little dry and benefits from being cooked with one of those rich cream based calorie laden sauce. So, I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of uses for leftovers that don’t pile on the pounds. Of course, you could just have cold meat and salads (and in the summer that’s just what I do). But in autumn and winter I like something warm to eat in the evening.
I found some small and rather pretty looking squash in the Supermarket last week and I had every intention of doing something with them for Halloween. But, greed got the better of me and I decided to cook them instead! The stuffing is the sort of mixture I normally use to stir through pasta when I have left-over morsels of chicken – but by using it as a filling for my squash, I got the perfect diet supper, with a large helping of steamed kale. You don’t need very much chicken or cheese…and I suspect this dish would work rather well with ham instead of the chicken too.
I’ll definitely be trying this again. I love stuffed peppers, but find them just a little fiddly to fill unless you make a fairly dry stuffing mixture – the firmer squash works very well with a rather ‘runnier’ stuffing and so is perfectly suited to using up leftovers.
- 1 Small Squash I use whatever I can find in the shops. As a main course for one person you need something around 250g of squash - of course you don't eat the entire thing!
- 30 g Cooked chicken
- 1/2 Medium Leek
- 15 g Cheddar cheese
- 1 stick Celery
- 1 pinch Dried Thyme or a handful of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon Oil I used coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon Low fat Creme Fraiche
- Clean and slice the leeks and dice the celery. Put both in a heavy based pan with the oil and cook gently over a low heat till the leeks are soft and the celery has started to look translucent (about 8 minutes)
- Add the thyme, the cooked chicken (shredded or chopped up a bit) and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Stir to mix well
- Add the creme fraiche and cheese and stir through. Check and adjust the seasoning
- Heat the oven to 160c. Cut the top off the squash and scoop out the seeds and pith. If you are feeling very frugal, apparently the seeds make a good snack dried in a cooling oven!
- Fill the hollow of the squash with the stuffing and put on a baking tray. Replace the lid and cook in the oven for an hour or so till the squash flesh is really soft
- Any left over filling can be added to pasta or to top a jacket potato (pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes covered in a little more cheese)
This recipe will scale up very well and you could make a ‘starter’ version by using miniature squash (the squash I used was about the size of the cupped palms of my hand – 4 or 5 inches diameter). It’s very low calorie at around 270 calories per squash. Steamed kale is a healthy and nutritious vegetable that just needs to be cooked for a few minutes. Alternatively you could try spinach or some spicy carrots. Perfect for a 5:2 diet fast day, but quite good enough to eat at any other time too