The flavours for these zucchini boats were inspired by a traditional Middle Eastern dish called Maftoul (hand rolled couscous). When I was a kid, my grandmother used to make Maftoul with a side of a mixed vegetable broth of zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, potato and chickpeas spiced with cinnamon and cumin. It was a celebratory dish made only on special occasions since it would take all day to hand roll the couscous!For a gluten free alternative, I decided to substitute the couscous for quinoa. Full of nutritious ingredients, these zucchini boats were very easy to make. Most importantly, being so yummy, they were a big hit with the kids.I served them with a side of homemade tzatziki that complemented the flavours beautifully!Nutritional benefits:Zucchini is high in vitamin A for eye health, vitamin B6 for neurological function and vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and reduces oxidative stress. It is packed full of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene that also act as antioxidants and have anti-cancer effects. As an added benefit, zucchini contains both soluble and insoluble fibres which contribute to a healthy digestive system and heart. Being low in carbohydrates, zucchini also helps keep insulin and blood sugar levels low.Quinoa is a great plant-based source of protein. It also contains the polyphenols quercetin and kaempferol that exert antioxidant effects and help protect against chronic diseases and cancers.Chickpeas are another excellent plant-based protein source that contain minerals such as magnesium and potassium for heart health.Note: When preparing chickpeas and quinoa, be sure to soak them prior to cooking to get rid of phytates, which are anti-nutrients that reduce the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.Now, I could go on and on about the benefits of zucchini and the other ingredients in these awesome little green boats, but let’s get to how I made them! P.s. This recipe serves 4.Ingredients:4 large zucchinis1 cup cooked quinoa1/2 cup cooked chickpeas1 small carrot, shredded1 small red onion, finely diced1/4 cup chopped parsley1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted1/4 tsp ground cumin1/4 tsp ground cinnamon1 Tbsp olive oil1 tsp saltJuice of one lemonInstructions:Preheat oven to 180°C.Trim off the stem ends then cut each zucchini in half.Using a zucchini corer or a teaspoon, hollow out the zucchini by removing the flesh so that they resemble a boat.In a bowl, mix cooked quinoa, chickpeas, carrot, red onion, parsley.In a small bowl, whisk cumin, cinnamon, salt, olive oil and lemon juice, then mix through to season the quinoa mix.Line the zucchini boats in a baking tray.Fill each zucchini boat with quinoa mix and cover tray with foil.Bake for 25 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Test with a fork.Remove from oven and serve immediately with a side of tzatziki.Homemade tzatziki - combine yoghurt (or alternative), chopped mint, diced cucumber and salt to tasteNo waste tip - You can cook the zucchini flesh with olive oil, lemon, mint, salt and pepper as a side dish or add to a soup.Enjoy!