healthy dinner recipe

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

Naturally sweet and crunchy, spaghetti squash makes a great substitute for the pasta in spaghetti, served with chicken Parmesan or just by itself with a pat of butter melting over it.  It is light, pleasant and nutritious, with many health benefits.  

High in vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium, squash has only 40 calories and 4 grams of sugar in a FULL one cup serving. Packing a punch in the omega-3’s and omega 6’s as well, this underrated natural beauty is a must-eat for health!

Here are the simple steps to cooking a spaghetti squash in your own oven:

coooking spag squash pic 1.jpg

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash (carefully – the outer shell is hard!) in two pieces, lengthwise.

cooking spag squash pic 2.jpg
cooking spag squash pic 3.jpg

Step 2:  Using a spoon, scrape out all the seeds and pulp in the soft interior of the squash.

Step 3:  Place the two sides face up (or down, it doesn’t really matter) in 1 inch of water in a large baking pan.  Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until squash is tender and soft.

how to bake a spaghetti squash pic 5.png

Step 4:  Once slightly cooled, take a fork, and peel the squash strands, just like spaghetti, off the rinds and into a bowl.  Serve and enjoy!

At our house, we love our spaghetti squash with this healthy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. The two put together pack a nutritional punch that offers a filling and comforting meal everyone enjoys!

Here’s a how-to video on how to do it:

Was this how-to helpful? Would you like to see more?

Our FRESH Start Club members get helpful how-tos just like this every single month, sometimes even before they're posted here on the blog. Plus new recipes, videos, printables and a warm & friendly support group. If you're ready to find support in your own quest for a healthy lifestyle, GO HERE to learn how you can join us! {Oh and it's FREE!}

Here are some other delicious recipes we think you might enjoy:

How to Make Healthy Turkey Mini-Meatloaves

How to Bake Acorn Squash Rings

Grilling Chicken & Salmon

How to Make Crock Pot Shredded Chicken {BONUS Chicken Enchilada Recipe!}

This shredded chicken recipe is a great “protein base” recipe, so that you have moist, tasty shredded chicken on hand for entrees later in the weekly meal plan, like salads, tacos, enchiladas or even to add to soup.

Cook up a large batch, then shred and freeze or refrigerate in pre-portioned freezer bags ready to pull out and use later. Makes nightly cooking too easy, and everyone loves the rich, brothy taste of this chicken (even the picky eaters!)

The chicken is also ready to be additionally seasoned, for instance, use chili powder and garlic for a Mexican-flavored dish, or taco seasoning for a taco salad protein topper!

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken & Healthy Chicken Enchilada Recipe.jpg

Here’s how you make it.


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (or half box) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6-7 whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine (white is best)


  1. Add all ingredients together into a crock pot, cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4. Once chicken pulls apart easily, it is ready! Let chicken cool, remove from crockpot, and shred. You’ve got shredded chicken!

Here’s a quick & comforting recipe you can whip up using this easy crock pot shredded chicken: 

pic 3 for Crock Pot Shredded Chicken & Healthy Chicken Enchilada Recipe.jpg


  • 2 cups crock-pot shredded chicken (soaked in ¼ cup of enchilada sauce)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 1 small can mild enchilada sauce
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional, as topping)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the enchilada sauce in a deep fry pan over low heat.
  3. Place corn tortillas, 2-3 at a time, into the saucepan and soak them until covered by sauce. Remove, lay flat on plate.
  4. Line one side of corn tortilla with small amount of chicken, sprinkle half handful of cheese, then roll and place into baking pan (9x9 size works if the enchiladas are rolled tight, 13x9 is better if you want them looser.)
  5. Once all enchiladas are rolled and placed together into pan, spread remaining enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle remaining cheese.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Then remove foil, put oven on broil (high) and bake for another 3-4 minutes. Watch it carefully as cheese may burn if left too long on broil.
  7. Remove finished enchiladas and enjoy with a side of rice and beans!

FRESH n’ Healthy Tip: Garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream – it’s a protein-rich & healthier fat option!

If you enjoyed these recipes, we think you might like these articles & recipes too:

Turkey Carrot Quinoa Meatballs

Napa Cabbage & Chicken Salad Recipe

Healthy Fried Chicken Tenders

Looking for a supportive community of people who understand your health struggles and can help reach your healthy living goals?
Join others who are JUST LIKE YOU in the FRESH Start Online Community!


Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps {Just Like the Restaurants!}

Hubby and I are cheap-skates when we go out to eat ... we're always on the lookout for deals and steals for our date nights! So we were thrilled when we discovered happy hour for appetizers and small plates at a local restaurant (with food we actually enjoyed!) ... and even more ecstatic when I figured out how to duplicate this dripping-with-flavor dish at home!

A few alterations later, we created this beautiful dish...

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

asian chicken lettuce wraps 1.jpg

Here's how to make it!


  • 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce (make homemade or use low-sodium version)

  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy is our fave choice!)

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled & finely grated or minced

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground chicken (I use the mild Italian one in grocery store - you can also use ground turkey)

  • 1/2 cup green onion, diced

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and finely minced

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)

  • 1/2 block firm tofu, drained & briefly seared, then diced into small pieces

  • 1/2 cup fresh Baby Bella mushrooms, roughly diced

  • 1 head living or butter lettuce


  • Shredded purple cabbage

  • Diced green onions

  • Shredded fresh organic carrots



  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl, whisk together and set to the side.

  2. In a large, deep, skillet over medium heat, brown ground chicken in tsp oil. Once chicken is cooked, remove from pan and drain. Set aside for now.

  3. Using the same skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, water chestnuts, pine nuts, tofu and mushrooms together and saute for about 2 minutes.

  4. Add the chicken back in, and pour ½ the sauce mixture over the meat and vegetables. Cook all of it together, uncovered, for about 3 or 4 minutes.

  5. Serve the mixture in the “lettuce cups” and garnish with the shredded fresh veggies.

  6. Use the remainder of the sauce as a dipping sauce,  or to drizzle to taste over the lettuce cups!


What about you friend? What restaurant favorite have you enjoyed and then tweaked in your own kitchen at home? Tell us about it HERE, and maybe we'll feature it (and YOU!) on this blog! 

This recipe was originally found on Favorite Family Recipes ( and changed in a few ways to reflect the FRESH Start-style!

Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Thighs and Rice

In our seemingly-endless search for gluten-free options for one very picky eater in my home, I have resorted to super basic dinners these days. 

So I was excited to create this easy recipe to add into the family recipe round-up:

easy oven-baked chicken thighs with my homemade rub, and served beside brown rice steamed up in low-sodium chicken broth...

quick, affordable and the whole family enjoyed them!

Several of us also had a luscious green salad taking up the other half of the plate (not pictured) ... but I can only get my super picky eater to eat a salad about once or twice a week. (True confessions of a health coach!) This is why we add smoothies into her breakfast routine as often as possible - to get those fresh fruits and veggies into her body that way.

oven baked chicken thighs branded.jpg

Back to dinner - so here's how to make this simple fare...


  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on (you can pull it off after cooking and the meat will still have the flavor from the rub and juices)
  • TO MAKE THE RUB - stir together 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 2 Tbsp onion powder, 2 Tbsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, sprinkle of cumin, sprinkle of crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, fresh grated black pepper
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

MEANWHILE FOR RICE: Place rice and broth in a rice cooker and cook until fluffy and done. OR if you don't have a rice-cooker - place broth in a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, and allow to begin boiling. Add rice, then turn the heat to low-medium, simmering the rice, covered, for about 30-40 minutes. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat, and keep covered.

MEANWHILE FOR THE CHICKEN: Place aluminum foil over a cookie pan, and pat the chicken thighs dry, then place on pan. 

Sprinkle the dry rub generously on the thighs.

Place in oven, uncovered, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken is 180 degrees with a meat thermometer.

Remove the chicken from the pan with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain. Serve with the rice and a vegetable or green salad on the side.

Did you like this easy dinner recipe? We are sharing 7 more + an entire week's worth of family-friendly meals in our FREE 7-Day Get-Started Guide!

Healthy One Pot Stroganoff

Growing up in sweet corn farm country in the Midwest, you know comfort food dinners were a regular event in my childhood farmhouse kitchen. These days, even though my family and I live in the desert southwest, they are still a favorite way to show my love through my cooking to my family. And...

...One pot dinners made healthy? Even better!

When I found this could-be Healthy One Pot Stroganoff recipe, I just knew I had to re-make it, FRESH Start-style! (Whole foods, lean meat, healthier "sauce") It is getting easier to do that these days - after a few years of "cleaning up" favorite recipes to be healthier you just get quicker at making ingredient switches and change-ups.

finished better.jpg

So here is my Healthy One Pot Stroganoff recipe - betcha won't even miss the other stuff once you've tried it! 


  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced (we use Baby Bella)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 lb thin sliced steak (we use sirloin or another lean choice)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 cups beef broth (low-sodium)
  • 8 oz whole wheat or gluten-free egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain (or sour cream)
  • fresh parsley for garnish
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot or deep pan, heat stove to medium-high and drizzle olive oil in bottom of pan. 
  2. Once oil is heated, add steak slices to pan for about 2 minutes. 
  3. After the steak has browned on one side, turn them over. (Should only be about 2 minutes tops!) Add mushrooms and onions into pan with the steak slices, and cook until mushrooms brown and onions are translucent. 
  4. Stir in paprika, beef stock and noodles and bring pan to boil. Then cover pan, bring heat down to medium and simmer for 12-15 minutes (for al dente noodles, may be less time.)
  5. Lower the heat to warm and stir in greek yogurt or sour cream, then turn off heat and let pan sit for a few minutes, covered.
  6. Sprinkle parsley over dish and serve.

Too easy, right? Comfort food for dinner in under 30 minutes, prepared in only One Pot, and with so much nutrition in it, too! What is your favorite one-pot comfort food dinner? We'd love to hear your FRESH idea in the comments below!

Homemade Healthy Pizza Recipe {FRESH Start style!}

Homemade Healthy Pizza Recipe

For many of us, weeknights are full of activities that keep us running and out of our quick and easy dinners are a MUST for the modern FRESH family to stay on track with our healthy lifestyle and feed our families real food!

This homemade healthy pizza recipe is a SUPER easy, shortcut version to store-bought pizza and uses ingredients found in most grocery stores (including Walmart!) Try this recipe on your family this week and share with us in our free community what you thought of it!

Here's JUST HOW EASY this recipe is:


Package of Naan Bread Small Jar of Pizza Sauce (OR homemade sauce recipe below) 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese OR half roll of FRESH, Soft Mozzerella Toppings of your choice

AND if you're really wanting to go "homemade," you can try my homemade pizza sauce:

Homemade Pizza Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • minced fresh garlic (optional)
  • garlic, onion powder & oregano (sprinkle of each to taste)

    Stir all ingredients together and spread over the flatbread before topping.

We make this a family experience, everyone adding their own choice of toppings to their half of their pizza...some of us love the sauteed veggies ....

and the Margherita version (shown below) using fresh, sliced tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, sauteed minced garlic and fresh mozzerella.

We bake them in a 400 degree oven for only about 10 minutes. Then I put them under a high broil for only about 2-3 more - WATCH them! We've burned pizzas on accident before because the broiler will burn it in a matter of seconds.

Get creative and make it YOUR way! This is a great family dinner when you have many different tastes and preferences under the same roof because everyone can make theirs the way they prefer it.


Pizza Ingredients:

  • Package of Naan Bread (about 1 package per 2-3 people)
  • Small Jar of Pizza Sauce (OR homemade sauce recipe below)
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese OR half roll of FRESH, Soft Mozzerella
  • Toppings of your choice

    Homemade Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • minced fresh garlic (optional)
  • garlic, onion powder & oregano (sprinkle of each to taste.

    Stir all ingredients together and spread over the flatbread before topping.


  1. Place preferred toppings on Naan bread, then put pizza in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until done.
  2. Place under high broil for about 2-3 more minutes to crisp and brown the cheese on top, but be SURE to time it, as the pizza could quickly burn!
  3. Slice, serve and enjoy!

Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad Recipe

The tasty greens and protein in this Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad are always a hit at our house!

This easy dinner recipe is a family (and guest!) favorite – we never get tired of throwing this easy, fresh dish together for a light dinner. 

Even though it's a salad, you might be surprised at just how filling it is just served by itself for a meal. The chicken and cabbage combination delivers lots of tasty nutrients, which help keep you full longer than most salads, yet it doesn't feel heavy on your stomach. 

Even the kids like it, and ask for this crunchy entrée often!

Here's how to make the Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad for your own family:

Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad Recipe



  • 3 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 Head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • Crunchies for topping:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 package ramen noodles, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce


  1. Combine the shredded cabbage, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, adding the ramen, sesame seeds, and almonds to the pan. Toast the mixture for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned nicely. Make sure not to burn them.
  3. To make the dressing, set a small saucepan on high heat, and add in all the ingredients together. Stir frequently, until the mixture comes to a quick boil, then immediately remove the pan from the heat. Let the dressing cool to room temp.
  4. Toss the salad mixture, crunchies, chicken, and dressing together just before serving for this quick and delicious dinner!
small pic napa cabbage chicken salad.jpg

Cabbage really is an under-rated superfood - rich in many nutrients, but most notably Vitamin C.  Did you know that cabbage is actually higher in vitamin C than oranges?  This salad is also a delicious source of potassium, sulphur, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E!

I would love to hear how you liked the Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad after you make it! Share your food pics and happy faces in our (FREE)  FRESH Start Online Community on Facebook or you can post a comment right here on this blog!