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One Pot Wonder: Destination, Italy

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

When you try to eat healthier, do you get a lot of pushback from your family? I've got a recipe for you! This meal checks all the boxes - delicious, healthy, easy, quick, and family friendly. Read on...

Here in the America's capital, we are expecting snow precisely the same weekend that the cherry blossoms are going to be at their peak. Hopefully it will not accumulate like it did last month, when it looked like this:

The point of this meal is to make it doable for you, not to be perfect. It's better to start with what you have/like than to prepare something 100% healthy that you don't want to eat, ever again. Or one that receives responses from you loved ones like eye rolling and, "Are you trying to get healthy again?" It also gives you some flexibility on the processed carbs so that each individual can choose the portion that's right for them.

So relax, and leave room for improvement. If your goal is to make healthy changes that you can carry on with forever, "how can I make this just a little better?" will be a lot more successful than an all-or-nothing approach.

Modifications: If you're short on time, skip the onion and garlic and use garlic and onion powder with some dried herbs when you add the meat to the skillet in Step 2. If you don't have all of the vegetables listed below, use as many as you have on hand. If you don't like kale, substitute any substantial leafy green, such as spinach or chard. Zucchini noodles have become widely available and can be substituted for the spaghetti squash. You can dial the healthiness up by reducing or eliminating the pasta.

This dish serves 4 and can be prepared and ready in about 35 minutes.

Italian Skillet

  • 1 lb (1/2 kg) of ground (minced) turkey or other lean meat

  • 1 TBL olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1/2 jar of roasted bell peppers, chopped

  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, julienned

  • 1 zucchini squash (courgette), thinly sliced and quartered

  • 2 cans 15 oz. (400 g) of diced (chopped) tomatoes

  • 1 tsp each of oregano, basil, and parsley, or TBL of Italian dried herb mix

  • 3 handfuls of chopped kale, tough stems removed (or baby kale, whole)

  • 1 spaghetti squash

  • 1/3 -1/2 package of your favorite dried pasta

  • grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional garnish)

  • fresh basil (optional garnish)

Step 1: Pierce the spaghetti squash all over with a paring knife (about an inch/2.5 cm) to prevent it from bursting; cook in the microwave on high for about 7 minutes; turn squash over and cook for another 8-10 minutes; cool for 5 minutes; carefully cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds; use a fork to scrape the squash into strands*

Step 2: While you're cooking/cooling squash, heat water for the pasta; chop the aromatics and veg you're using; heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onions until starting to soften, then add the garlic until fragrant; add the dried herbs and brown the ground meat until cooked through, using a wooden spoon to stir and break up the meat

Step 3: Cook the pasta; add the vegetables and canned tomatoes to the skillet until warmed through and the greens until just wilted

Step 4: Serve skillet mixture over the spaghetti squash and/or pasta; add optional garnishes, if desired; Buon appetito!

* Alternatively, you can roast the squash by cutting it in half, removing the seeds, and roasting the halves facedown at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 45 minutes; cool and scrape as described above.

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