Recipe Remake: Lighten Up With a Healthy Seasonal Casserole

Summer is here and there are so many fresh fruits and vegetables that it’s easy to make your evening meals low in fat, healthy and delicious. Bad eating habits can (and do!) sabotage your blood sugar control and your weight.

A summer vegetable casserole is a simple way to enjoy the season’s bounty. Compare these two recipes for Zucchini/Squash Casserole to make vegetables flavorful and nutritious.

Summer food tip: Drinks and salads shared at barbecues and gatherings can be full of sugar, and high in calories and fatty dressings. Take a smaller portion of these food items so that you can be sociable and healthy too!

ZUCCHINI/SQUASH CASSEROLE (ORIGINAL)

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. (about 6 cups) yellow squash or zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 package herb seasoned stuffing (or 4 cups dry stuffing)

Directions:

Cook the onions and zucchini in salted water for 5-6 minutes at medium temperature, then drain. Combine soup and sour cream in a separate pot. Stir in the carrots. Fold in drained squash and onions. Combine stuffing mix and butter or margarine. Spread half of this mixture in a 12 x 7 ½ x 2 baking dish. Layer with vegetable mixture and top with remaining stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until well heated.

Regular Recipe:1/12th of the recipe = 267 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrates

LIGHT AS A FEATHER ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. (about 6 cups) yellow squash or zucchini (grill this and other leftover vegetables to give your casserole extra flavor)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can Special Request cream of chicken soup*
  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free sour cream**
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup olive oil***

Use 6 to 8 slices of your own toasted bread and let sit out overnight to dry. Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite Italian herbs or 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs like basil, oregano and thyme to control the salt and nutrition.****

*This version has half the salt and 1/3rd of the fat and saves you nearly 200 calories (480 calories & 40 grams cholesterol vs. 320 calories and 48 grams of cholesterol)

** Use soy or Toffuti® sour cream for a dairy-free option (8 oz. fat-free sour cream = 35 grams cholesterol & 170 calories; regular sour cream = 10 grams cholesterol & 492 calories)

*** Works just as well at half the calories and none of the cholesterol

****For people sensitive to gluten, brown rice bread or corn bread works well

Directions

Grill the zucchini and onions or steam, in a saucepan, the sliced squash and onions for 4-5 minutes (these methods retain more of the nutrients and flavor). Combine the soup and sour cream in a separate saucepan. Stir in the carrots. Fold in the squash and onions. Combine the bread crumbs, seasoning and oil. Spread half of this mixture in a 12 x 7 ½ x 2 baking dish. Layer with vegetable mixture and top with remaining stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

Light Version:1/12th of the recipe = 150 calories and 25grams of carbohydrates

Serve this with grilled or baked poultry, fish or meats. Prepare ahead of time and freeze. Then just pop into the oven to reheat.

Ms. Dori Khakpour is the diabetes nutrition and education director at the University of Washington’s Diabetes Care Center. As a certified diabetes educator, nutrition coordinator and research nutritionist she works with patients and their families as well as teaching medical and graduate students. She is also a public speaker and educator about managing diabetes through nutrition. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association, the Greater Seattle Dietetic Association and the Omicron Nu Nutrition Sciences Honor Society. She has been named the UW Medical Center’s Outstanding Patient Educator six times.