Essentials for Making 10-Minute Healthy Meals with Zucchini Noodles


Grocery Essentials for Making Quick Meals

After reviewing everyone’s feedback from the survey I posted up last week, I’ve come to a few conclusions. If you haven’t taken part yet, please do so – it helps me build better content and really zone in on what y’all want to see up on the blog!

If only Lu listened as well as I did. 

Here’s what I’ve found out:

1. You either eat everything or you’re Paleo/gluten-free. This surprised me, I thought I’d have more vegetarian followers. But it makes me happy, because that means that y’all are spiralizing not because you’re already sticking to a plant-based diet: you just like or want to eat more vegetables! You healthy readers, you.

Time to make more Paleo recipes! 

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2. You’re conscious of your sugar and carb intake, mainly. Well, that’s skewed because you’re mainly gluten-free and Paleo, so of course you’re carb-conscious. But sugar, really? 

I think I’m doing pretty good on that front. Not much sugar here.

Calorie conscious is close in third, so I’ll make sure to keep my recipes fit-friendly.

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3. You are all spiralizing a few times a week! That’s great news, BUT we need to get you spiralizing a bit more.  I’m happy you’re starting to build spiralizing into your everyday.

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Okay, okay. Now let me give my Inspiralized plug. It looks like you’re mainly following me just through the blog, Facebook and a bit of Instagram.

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It’s time for you to really get Inspiralized – the more you follow, the more motivated you’ll be to spiralize healthy meals! Plus, sometimes I run giveaways and give tips and exclusive recipe sneak peeks on certain social media channels.

Follow me on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram more. Don’t forget Facebook and if you follow lots of blogs, I use Bloglovin‘, it’s a great tool to keep all your favorite blogs in one spot (which includes this one, of course).

Now, remember there was a comments section in that survey? This is where the real meat and potatoes comes from! 

From these comments, I’ve learned that:

1. More desserts. Spiralized desserts are a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that I should be ignoring them. Expect to see some desserts here! 

2. Meals that can be made in advance, like casseroles. Well, I posted up a casserole dish on Tuesday, just because of this comment – and I plan on doing many more similar types of dishes. 

3. More traditional recipes. I love this, because I’m a huge lover of classic Italian favorites. Expect to see more of that, like the cacio e pepe I just posted up.

4. Easily-transportable lunch ideas. Great suggestion – this comes up a lot and I have been focusing too much on dinners and mains – it’s time to give lunch the spotlight. Coming soon.

5. Different techniques. This is challenging, but as I’ve proven with my rice and my buns, there are exciting things you can do with the spiralizer. I’ll start brainstorming on this.

6. How-to tutorials & videos. I’m always working on these. Actually, I’m filming a tutorial video on how to make my rice this week! If you have something specifically you’d like to see a tutorial on, shoot me an e-mail!

7. Ethnically different recipes. You all loved my curry recently, so I’m going to work on more dishes like that – that challenge my repertoire and make me learn about the way different cultures prepare food. Thanks for the inspiration!

8. More spiralized fruits. This was surprising! You can only really spiralize a couple types of fruits, but I’ll work on it.

9. Nutritional information. I get a lot of e-mail asking me to place the nutritional information of the recipe at the bottom. The only reason I don’t is because it’s time-consuming, but that’s just laziness! I’m hoping to roll this out in the upcoming weeks.

And last,

10. You want more “easy to make” and “quick” recipes. Yea, Lu was right

I’m 100% working on this. I have a lot of recipe ideas for this, so expect to see them up on the blog soon.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share with you a few kitchen pantry and fridge essentials that can help you put together a spiralized meal in a pinch – like, 10 minutes. Just by always having these things stocked, you can whip up a tasty meal! 

Essentials for Making Quick & Healthy Meals

By stocking your refigerator and pantry with the following items, you will always have enough to throw a meal together in 10 minutes.

Note: These were all taken from my pantry, spur of the moment!

Pantry Items

Inspiralized Pantry Essentials


A few notes:

Assorted Canned Beans: I always keep my pantry stocked with cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans and pinto beans. It’s a quick and easy protein source to add to pastas.

Low Sodium Chicken Broth: This is a healthy way to add flavor to a zucchini noodle dish – a splash of chicken broth creates a light brothy sauce. Also, it’s crucial for making quick soups.

Sesame Oil: Adds a strong Asian flavor and enables you to make easy stir fries.

Nuts: Healthy fats and proteins are benefits of adding nuts to your pastas. I love crushing pistachios over a zucchini pasta or adding pepitas with black beans and avocado to a pasta for a Mexican flair.

Chunky Light Tuna: Apparently this type of tuna has the least amount of mercury. It’s packed in water, so it won’t add unnecessary oily calories and fat. Plus, it’s a lean protein source that is ready to eat! 

Less Sodium Soy Sauce: This pairs well with the sesame oil to make a quick Asian inspired dish with lots of flavor for little prep. It’s also great to add to soups.

Organic Shredded Coconut Flakes: Sprinkle a few of these bad boys over zucchini noodles for a strong sweet flavor. 

Spices: All of these spices I could never do without – I cook with them almost daily. Garlic powder, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper are gifts to mankind. A half teaspoon of garlic powder can add so much to a dish when you don’t have time to spend on a marinade or chopping garlic.

Canned Pasta Sauces: I usually have Rao’s Tomato Basil in my pantry, but I used it recently. A good pesto or tomato sauce is crucial for dishes in a pinch.

Olive Oil Cooking Spray: To cut extra fat and calories, I use cooking spray to cook my zucchini noodles. Simple as that.

Refrigerator Items

Fridge Essentials

A few notes:

Bacon: Bacon adds an instant “dang that tastes good” factor. It’s easy to make, quick to make (5 minutes) and the bacon grease left in the pan can be used instead of olive oil to cook zucchini noodles.

Sliced Deli Meat: I’ll use deli meat for sandwiches, but it’s also great for rolling up and adding into a bowl of pasta. It sounds weird, but check it out. It works.

Grated Parmesan Cheese: Add a tablespoon of this to a warm pasta dish and you instantly have a gourmet tasting bowl of pasta. Plus, there’s a bit of protein in cheese! 

Fresh Olives: Chuck these in your skillet while you cook your zucchini noodles or add them to a raw bowl of pesto for salty and delicious flavor.

Bell Peppers: Turn your stove on and char a bell pepper for a quick addition to a pasta. You can sear them in a skillet quickly or just chop them up and enjoy raw.

Lemons: Lemons, like garlic powder, are my other favorite easy way to season food. Spritz lemon into the skillet (maybe add some cheese) and you’ve got a great tangy pasta sauce. Plus, lemons pack so many healthy benefits.

Peeled Garlic: I recently got into organic peeled garlic. Why was I wasting my time peeling garlic heads every day? So messy, so time consuming! Minced garlic is a quick way to add flavor to any dish.

Eggs: Whether you’re making “fried noodles” with scrambled eggs or you’re making zucchini spaghetti and fried eggs, make sure you have them. Eggs, that is. They’re an easy lean protein source.

Onions: I add onions to everything. They’re great raw or great diced and added into a pasta for added flavor and nutrients.

Organic Miso Pasta: Who doesn’t love miso soup? It’s easy to make miso soup – boil water, add some miso paste and go! Adding in some zucchini noodles and fresh greens, like spinach makes for a quick meal with loaded health benefits.

Fresh Greens: Toss some greens in with your pasta (whether it’s baby kale, arugula, spinach, watercress, etc) – you can never have too many greens and they add fiber and other nutrients that are good for you. Plus, they look pretty.

Zucchinis: Duh. You need these to make the noodles! I always have 10 on hand at any time, but I’m a little crazy.

But what can I make with all of this?

If I gave it all away at once, you’d never come back to the blog! I’m hoping to make some recipes soon with these bare essentials.

If you’re itchin’ to make something, try these ideas:

Lemon-Bacon Zucchini Pasta with Arugula & Pine Nuts: Cook bacon in a skillet and then add in the zucchini noodles, tossing for 2-23 minutes. Fold in the arugula and garnish with pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Avocado Zucchini Pasta with Beans & Pepitas: Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet and add in garlic, red pepper flakes, zucchini noodles, avocado and beans. Cook for about 3 minutes and then garnish with pepitas.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Olives & Tuna: Place zucchini noodles in a bowl and toss with canned pesto sauce. Then, add in your tuna and toss to combine. Top with some olives! 

Coconut & Almond Zucchini Pasta with Turkey: Add a tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet and add in your zucchini noodles. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then stir in coconut flakes and slivered almonds, cooking for another 30 seconds. Top with 3 rolled slices of roasted turkey.

It’s that easy. Who said healthy eating had to be time consuming? Not I! 

Hopefully these tips help and again, thank you for participating in the survey. 

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laurengrier says:
Ali, this is so helpful!! Definitely pinned!
Joanne says:
I've been meaning to do one of these polls for my readers! You get so much info out of it!
Thanks, can't wait to explore all these new ideas!
Jesse Morgan says:
My Latest Book "Blender Recipe Cookbook" Is free today on Amazon (6/21/2015). If you are ready to take your Vitamix or Ninja blender to the next level, grab a free copy and test out some great Smoothie, Soup and Dessert recipes.

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