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Spaghetti Dinner with Veggies

Our favorite homemade spaghetti dinner, is made entirely of non-processed plants! No grains, no flours – just all things straight from the ground! We have found a delicious homemade marinara sauce too (why mess with a classic?), which really sets this spaghetti dinner apart. I have come a LONG way from my college days of buying boxed noodles and a jar of Prego sauce.  If you make this for your family, they will not miss the pasta – I promise.

I’ve used spaghetti squash in place of noodles in past posts before, like the Lentil Balls with Spaghetti Squash recipe. And in all honesty, we use spaghetti squash as our noodles more than we use traditional noodles, so to us it is a no brainer. But I’m trying to get better at sharing the every day recipes with everyone.

To me, spaghetti squash “noodles” (ssoodles?) taste SO much better than pasta. They have more flavor and I can sit down with an entire plate of spaghetti squash, eat the entire thing and be hungry 2 hours later. And just to drive that point home, here is a little nutritional comparison between spaghetti squash and organic, gluten-free spaghetti noodles. Note the serving size; as I couldn’t find a perfect quantity comparison, but I’m guessing a whole pound of spaghetti squash is a LOT. (And, a pound is 16 oz. so if anything these stats are weighted in favor of the gluten-free noodles, and it still doesn’t help them!)

Data pulled from My Fitness Pal.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to at least give the plant noodles a try!

Tonight’s dinner will be spaghetti squash noodles topped with homemade marinara, served with a side of steamed green veggies.


First, the sauce. This is key, and can be made ahead of time and frozen, as it makes a TON. Head on over to Wellness Mama for the original recipe. But below is our slight spin on it:


3 boxes of Pomi brand tomatoes (2 boxes of chopped, 1 box of strained – this is our way of saving time on the ‘fresh tomato’ version)
¼ c. olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
8 cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves (remove when done)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. Real salt
1 carrot (1/2 should be grated and added to sauce, the other half should be added at the end of cooking and then removed)
8 oz. package of baby portobello mushrooms (this is our addition, also adds 8g of protein)

Instructions (We follow Wellness Mama’s instructions exactly.)

  1. Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add diced onions, garlic and grated carrots.
  3. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until onions are translucent and tender.
  4. Add tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, oregano, thyme bay leaves, parsley and salt.
  5. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours or until cooked down and starting to darken.
  6. Add carrot piece and mushrooms for the last 30 minutes. (The carrot helps to absorb acidity.)
  7. Remove bay leaves and piece of carrot.
  8. Use fresh or store in the fridge up to 1 week. Or freeze for up to 6 months.

Spaghetti Squash Noodles

In the last 45 minutes of cooking the marinara, cut spaghetti squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Fill a baking pan with 1/4 inch water, place spaghetti squash cut side down over water. Bake in oven uncovered at 375° for 30 minutes or until a fork easily pokes through the outer skin.

Once the squash is done, remove from oven and scrape out squash insides using a fork. (See previous recipe for more detailed instructions and a couple photos.) You will need to hold the squash with an oven mit as it will be HOT. At this time, you can season the squash with a bit of salt and pepper if you’d like. Top with your finished marinara and enjoy!

Steamed Veggies
We start these once we know the squash is done, it stays warm for a long time on it’s own if you leave it face down in the pan. Combine the following in a steamer pot, or a stock pot with a little water on the bottom:

2 c. frozen peas
2 c. frozen green beans
2 stalks fresh bok choy
1 medium sweet onion, chopped

Steam for 7-10 minutes or until bright green and heated through. The onions should be translucent too. Top with a little liquid aminos and serve as a side with your spaghetti with marinara.

What is your biggest struggle when trying to incorporate more plants into your daily life?

Survey Results and Training Plan

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU from deep within my heart to everyone who completed the reader survey last week! I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of responses, and it has reassured me I am headed in the right direction with my posts. If you haven’t taken it yet, and want to participate, please feel free to hop on over and take it now. It will only take a few minutes.

Survey Results

One thing just about all readers had in common? You want more running related posts! So once I give a quick review of the survey, I will talk about my training plan for the next 11 weeks. And it also looks like many of you want me to continue with the plant-based recipes, so we are golden there!


The other thing everyone had in common? You ALL said YES or MAYBE to a “Travel” section on the blog; not a single NO! Mr. Zucchini Runner and I travel quite a bit; particularly locally in AZ, so I am very happy to share our upcoming adventures with everyone! We just got back from a quick trip to the Grand Canyon and a quick stop in Sedona!

It also seems people were less enthusiastic about a paid eBook, but for those who were, the topic of choice was, “How to Transition to Plant-Based Nutrition”, with a close second of “Running Basics” and “Pantry Reorganization” TIED. More people were interested in a FREE handout, with the same topics in winning order. So I will need to see what the best approach is for that one. Stay tuned for updates!

Now, on the weekly Facebook posts, it seems like “Meditation Monday” and “Shopping List Sunday” were close contenders. I have noted this in my weekly posting schedules and I will try both for a while and see how it goes!

There was also some great feedback and post ideas provided in the “share your other thoughts” section, which I hope to incorporate in upcoming posts! Thanks again and if you have anything else you’d like to share, or other suggestions please comment below or take the survey. 🙂

Training Plan

My training for 2017 is going to be very different from 2016. My approach for 2016 was to just keep it light and low and nothing too strenuous. Mr. Zucchini Runner and I were giving ourselves one last shot at starting a family, which meant taking it extra easy on the body. As a result, I ran about 500 miles in 2016 compared to 935 in 2015. In addition, we did a LOT of yoga, and many of those miles were very short runs, at a very easy pace.

In 2017 we are moving on, and letting go. We have tried all that we want to try and do, in regards to starting a family. So, if it happens it happens, but we are no longer going to put our life on hold for the “what ifs” or the “maybes”. 2017 is about getting into the best shape we have been in so far, with the main rule that we also do it in the healthiest way possible. How do we define that?

In a word, BALANCE.

We will not strictly or rigidly eliminate any single food group that we enjoy. We will practice moderation however, and be extremely mindful of the food we consume. If we eat something that doesn’t have high nutrition, it is a choice we are making and not an evil or bad food.

As I mentioned in my previous post, where I discussed my 2017 goals, I have a fitness log — the good ole fashioned paper kind — where I am tracking my workouts and nutrition for the next 3 months. Week one is already complete and it is working out very well so far!

Below is a rundown of the fitness plan I have mapped out.

This planner is called the “Be Well Fitness Log” by Inkwell Press. I purchased it at Office Max.

Essentially it looks like this:

  1. Monday – 20 minutes of weights + 3 mile run
  2. Tuesday – Strength workout (30-45 minutes; CVX, PiYo or The Challenge)
  3. Wednesday – 5 mile run (tempo and easy alternating weeks)
  4. Thursday – 3 mile run (with pick-ups/sprints alternating weeks)
  5. Friday – Upper body weights + bike/spin indoors
  6. Saturday – Long run day
  7. Sunday – Yoga

I will of course modify this as needed, but I always do better with a plan as my guide. You can already see where I adjusted week 1 in some spots, based on having company in town.

Below shows a detail of a single day, which also focuses on nutrition. I have chosen not to count calories, but instead give each meal a rating.

  • 0 – no nutritional value; cookie, fudge, etc.
  • 1 – minimal nutritional value; granola, almond milk, processed foods like GF crackers, bread, etc
  • 2 – some nutrition but no color; baked potato, wild rice, quinoa
  • 3 – some nutrition but high sugar/fat; fruits and nut butters
  • 4 – good nutrition; has lots of veggies but some protein (veggie burger, beans, eggs)
  • 5 – ideal nutrition; all greens, essentially if I ate a plate of nothing but broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, bok choy and kale with onions and garlic

The above is the epitome of what I consider leading a life focused on plant-based nutrition. The best scenario would be to have green leafy plants first and everything else is secondary in a descending order. I’ve never done Weight Watchers, but I would imagine this is similar to their concept, except I don’t value processed foods. This method is not an exact science, it’s just a self-imposed one I have developed to help me to keep my food in check.

Below is the training I’ve completed so far for 2017, based on my Strava data. I have managed to run 48 miles, which I’m pretty stoked about! The key with all of my runs this year, is that I want to keep my heart rate under 160 beats per minute for 90% of my runs. (If it is a race, all bets are off and I won’t even pay attention to HR.) So far, easy runs have fallen in the 135-145 bpm range, average runs fall in the 145-155 bpm range and decent effort runs reach 160-163 bpm; which is typically my long run or a mid-week tempo run. I will keep that in mind as I move forward with training and keep you all posted with how it’s working.

So, how’d I do? Is this post helpful and informative?