Fall Favorite: Turkey Marinara over Spaghetti Squash

October 29th, 2013 | Posted by Alison Spath in Dinner Time

Zak is going strong with his 40 Day Paleo Challenge (although exceptions were made this weekend for his birthday!) and I’ve been keeping busy stocking the fridge with Paleo friendly meals and snacks.

I’m calling this a “Fall Favorite” because 1.) well, it’s fall – and  2.) I’ve made this for dinner once a week for the past three weeks in a row.  It’s on the dinner agenda this week again too.  It think it’s safe to call this turkey marinara and spaghetti squash a new favorite.

Ground Turkey Tomato Sauce over Spaghetti Squash

I’ve been making this regularly because it’s a simple and easy meal, but I still hear myself saying “This is so good!” between each bite.  And then I see Zak making a face that tells me he’s wishing I would stop talking with my mouth full.  And then I tell him to stop giving me that look and just keep eating.


The Squash Part

1 large spaghetti squash – halved, seeds removed, roasted face down at 350 for about 40 minutes. (Roasting time will vary depending on the size of your squash, you’ll know it’s done when you can easily stick a fork into it.)

I often make the squash ahead of time, mostly because I love the way my oven heats up my kitchen so nicely on these chilly fall mornings.  And then it’s one less thing to do at dinner time too – no complaints here!

The Turkey Marinara Part

1 – 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 lb of ground turkey*
28 oz can diced tomatoes (I usually go with Muir Glen to get around the BPA issue)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil**
1 tsp dried oregano**
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

optional: a couple handfuls of chopped kale

*if ground turkey isn’t your thing, ground beef,  pork or sausage could easily work well here.  This would be a great without meat as veggie dish too.

**use fresh if you like!

Saute garlic, onion and pepper in coconut oil until they begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add ground turkey and brown, adding tomatoes and tomato paste when the meat is nearly cooked through.  Add seasonings, bring to a gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer, allowing it to cook for another 20 – 30 minutes before serving.

In my most recent version of this dish I added kale because I had some prepped and ready to go.  It’s a great way to sneak some greenery into an otherwise not-green dish.  I love the chewiness of cooked kale, it worked well with the rest of the ingredients.  If you choose to add kale, chop into bite sized and add to the pot during the last 15 – 20 minutes of cooking.

The Paleo Challenge Update

Zak’s about 3 1/2 weeks into his Paleo challenge with his friends.  His most notable dietary shifts would the complete removal of grains, sugar and dairy during this time.  (Half and half is still making an appearance in his coffee, though!)  Lots of vegetables are a given, but eating NO grains, sugar or cheese is the biggest change.  He mentioned a few days ago that he’s been sleeping very soundly through the night – the same thing that happened during his juice fast this spring.  “Normally”, he sleeps OK, but says he definitely wakes a up a few times during the night.  He’s still drinking coffee in the mornings (unlike during the juice fast) and it’s interesting to me to see what makes a difference in sleep quality.  Responsible caffeine consumption doesn’t seem disrupt his sleep, but sugar (or perhaps more carbs in general) does?  Hmmm.

He’s lost a few of the pounds that he regained after the juice fast and has added some short, semi-intense workouts into his daily life – just a few sets of pull ups, push ups and squats for 7 minutes a few days a week.  He is notorious for not doing much exercise (beyond walking) for long periods of time and then jumping into something too quickly, only to be so sore in the days that follow that he has to immediately take a few days off, never managing to create any sort of routine.  His plan this time is to take a more minimalist approach… enough strength and resistance training to make a difference, but not so much that he hurts himself and never makes any sort of progress.

Long story short, it’s going well for him.  I’m just grateful that my dark chocolate stash has been disappearing much slower than it usually does!  And that I get to keep making this turkey and spaghetti squash dish.  Good stuff.

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