If you’re a busy person, this scenario is probably pretty familiar: coming home late from the office, brain fried, on the verge of starving… so what do you do in this situation?
Option 1: Pull a pre-packaged meal out of the freezer and nuke it in the microwave? Sure, it’s convenient, but those pre-packaged meals are often filled with processed foods and preservatives that aren’t doing your body any favors.
Option 2: Order take out or delivery via an app like UberEats? Also convenient, but it’s going to take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to arrive, at which point you may be passed out in a corner due to starvation, plus that take out pad thai will likely leave you uncomfortably bloated and gassy…
Option 3: Whip up a high quality, nutrient dense, and delicious zoodle (aka “zucchini noodle”) bowl and be eating in 10 minutes with the knowledge that you’re fueling your body for another successful day tomorrow!
I vote option 3! Not just because this meal is easy and fast to make, but more importantly, because you’re giving your body the good stuff – quality ingredients that will be easy to digest, give you energy, help you sleep better, up your chances of waking up feeling refreshed, and ultimately, lay the groundwork for a successful day tomorrow.
When you eat high quality foods, you have a sharper mind, clearer focus, steady energy, and you feel better, which in turn, increases your productivity!
What do I mean by “high quality”? I mean foods that are grown the way nature intended them to be grown. Or foods that contain simple, real food ingredients. Because when you choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, they contain higher amounts (and sometimes a more diverse array) of vitamins and minerals, which in turn, serves your body.
So for example, when you’re picking out the marinara sauce for this recipe… be a label detective! Prego marinara sauce contains canola oil, which is a health-harming industrial oil. And Ragu? Yeah, that has sugar and soybean oil in it, both of which earn a thumbs down on the quality scale. Why do you need sugar and soybean oil in marinara sauce anyways?!?!
Instead, look for a marinara sauce like this one from Thrive Market, that contains only the good stuff: organic whole peeled tomatoes, organic fresh onions, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic fresh garlic, sea salt, organic black pepper, organic fresh basil. I don’t know about you, but I know EXACTLY what each of those ingredients are.
Now that you’ve chosen your high quality ingredients, it’s time to get down to business! Here’s how to make this 10 minute meal:
First, what’s the secret to making zoodles? It’s a veggie spiralizer! Just hand twist your zucchini, squash, carrot, etc, through a spiralizer and within a minute, you’ll have a beautiful pile of noodle-shaped vegetable! This tool is an excellent addition to your kitchen because it’s so easy to use and it’s a great hack for adding more veggies to your life. You can get the same spiralizer I use right here for less than $20!
Now let’s make some dinner! First, cut off the stem end of the zucchini.
Then stick that cut end of the zucchini into your spiralizer and start twisting the zucchini. Keep the zucchini as in line with the spiralizer as possible – that’s how you get long strands of zoodles. If your zucchini is off kilter while twisting, you’ll be stuck with short 1″ pieces of zoodle because it’ll only be making contact with the slicing teeth some of the time.
Twist the zucchini until you can’t get enough leverage on it to continue twisting. And be careful of your fingers when you get down to the end – those spiralizer teeth are sharp! I’ve definitely wound up with more than a few cuts playing the “let’s see how much zoodle I can possibly get out of this zucchini” game. Compost or dispose of what remains of the top end of the zucchini and the stem end you cut off earlier. Keep the zucchini “core” that came out the opposite side of your spiralizer – that’s useable veggie!
Zucchini tends to hold a lot of moisture, so before cooking these beautiful zoodles, use a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Push the paper towel down hard on your zoodles and don’t be afraid to put a little muscle in! Flip the zoodle pile over and repeat. The paper towel should be damp afterwards.
Next, assemble your remaining ingredients before firing up the stove top because this next part moves fast. Most importantly, make sure your 1/2 cup of marinara sauce is on standby.
Add 1 tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil) to your sauté pan and heat over medium high heat. Heat your cast iron skillet over medium high heat and melt just enough butter to grease the pan so your burger doesn’t stick. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, no biggie – just use another sauté pan. Once your cooking fats are hot add your zoodles to the sauté pan and your ground beef to the cast iron skillet. Set timer for 4 minutes.
As soon as your add your ground beef, start breaking it up into small chunks using your spatula. The smaller the chunks, the faster it cooks! Since speed is the name of the game for this meal, make those chunks dime to quarter sized. Add salt & pepper to the beef and move it around in the pan every minute or so to ensure even cooking. Once your burger is finished cooking (approximately 4-5 minutes), turn off the burner and move the ground beef to the side of the pan.
Immediately after you’ve broken down your burger, toss your zoodles so they’re evenly coated in the avocado oil and let them cook. Add salt & pepper and toss the zoodles every minute or so to ensure even cooking. The zoodles should take about 4-5 minutes to cook as well. When the timer’s up, they should look like the photo above – more malleable and relaxed than the fresh noodles. Feel free to take one of the zoodles out of the pan and give it a taste. If it’s a little al dente for you, let it cook another minute or two.
Once your zoodles are cooked, add your 1/2 cup of marinara sauce to the pan. Toss zoodles until evenly coated in the marinara sauce and once your see the sauce bubbling, turn the burner off – you’re done! The goal here is just to mix the marinara sauce and heat it up.
It’s time to plate your meal! Relocate the zoodles to a bowl. Then add the ground beef on top.
Remove 4 sundried tomatoes from the jar and slice them into 3 or 4 smaller strips. The reason I like to slice these up is because it distributes the flavor throughout the bowl. Instead of having 4 bites that contain an overpowering amount of sun-dried tomato, you’ll have many more bites with more balanced flavor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes to your bowl.
Now for the finishing touch – add your pine nuts and basil and you’re done! Time to chow down on your zoodle bowl!!
Ground Beef and Sun-Dried Tomato Zoodles (Paleo)
This delicious Paleo zoodle bowl is the perfect solution for a healthy meal on a busy night. In just 10 minutes, you'll have a nutrient-dense meal with a good balance of protein, healthy fat, and vegetables!
Cut stem end off zucchini and use your vegetable spiralizer to spiralize zucchini into "zoodles" (aka zucchini noodles)
Push paper towel in zoodle pile to absorb moisture. Don't be afraid to really put some muscle into it. Discard stem end and leftover end of the zucchini.
Heat sauté pan and cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add avocado oil to sauté pan. Lightly grease cast iron skillet with butter (just enough to create a non-stick surface).
Add zoodles to sauté pan and ground beef to cast iron skillet. Set timer for 4 minutes.
Use spatula to break ground beef down in to dime and quarter sized pieces.
Toss zoodles to evenly coat in avocado oil. Add a few shakes of salt & pepper to each pan, and spend the remaining time going back and forth between pans, moving ground beef and zoodles around so they cook evenly.
Once the 4 minutes are up, the ground beef should be cooked. Turn off heat and move burger to one side of pan.
At this point the zoodles should be pretty malleable. Add your 1/2 cup of marinara sauce to pan and toss zoodles to evenly coat in sauce. Once sauce is bubbling, turn off burner.
Time to plate your meal! Put your zoodles in a bowl and add the ground beef on top.
Slice your 4 sun-dried tomatoes into 3-4 slices each. Add sun-dried tomato slices to bowl.
Add pine nuts and basil to bowl.
Serve and enjoy!
*To make 2 or more servings, simply double, triple, etc the ingredients!
REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: Vegetable Spiralizer
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