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Weeknight Dinner Reboot: 4 Non-traditional Foods, 12 Delicious Meals

Stuck in a pasta rut? Try one of these superfood-rich recipes you can make as speedily as spaghetti

Published on: December 23, 2015

Weeknight dinners can quickly become rushed meals of the old standbys of pasta, pizza and grilled-cheese sandwiches, with nary a vegetable in sight. Instead, why not try some easy meals featuring non-traditional foods that are loaded with vitamins and taste? From super squash dishes and zoodles and sweet-potato fries, you are sure to find some new family favorites that take no longer to make than regular pasta.

Photo credit: Natural Comfort Kitchen

Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash, a fall and winter favorite, is one vegetable that can be easily subbed for spaghetti noodles. While it doesn’t taste exactly like pasta, it is a delicious alternative to carb-y dishes. Here are a few ways to use spaghetti squash in your meals:

Spaghetti squash pie

Spaghetti pie might be a Midwest comfort food favorite but when looking for ways to get more vegetables into your family’s diet, you can’t go wrong with this alternative. Stack your pie plate with zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash for a filling meal. Your family will ask for seconds and thirds of this cheesy vegetable dish.


Photo credit: Home Cooking Memories

Bacon parmesan spaghetti squash

This dish makes even the most reluctant spaghetti squash eater into a devoted fan. The bacon and parmesan add a creamy flavor while the heartiness of the squash make for a filling, fantastic meal.


Photo credit: Leelalicious

Thai peanut spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash adds some much needed vegetables to a delicious Thai flavor. This is a dish you can indulge in without feeling dinner guilt.

Photo credit: The Iron You

Zoodles instead of noodles

Zoodles are this year’s foodie favorite. Using a spiralizer or a peeler, you can easily make zoodles using zucchini, squash and carrots. Combine all three for a healthy dish. Here are a few impressive ways to cook up zoodles.

Garlic butter zoodles

Garlic lovers will adore this simple zoodle dish that showcases the simplicity of zucchini, butter and garlic. You can whip up this dish in less than 10 minutes.

Photo credit: Cookies and Cups

Sesame zoodles

Sesame zoodles provides all the Asian noodle flair without all the fuss. If you have 10 minutes to get a healthy and tasty dinner on the table, this dish is your answer, offering both fantastic flavor and oodles of vegetables.

Photo credit: Joyful Healthy Eats

Thai chicken zucchini noodles

This dish is packed full of so many delicious vegetables and Thai chicken flavor that you won’t even miss the rice noodles. Take 15 minutes to whip this dish up for your sure-to-be-pleased family.

Photo credit: Hola Jalapeno

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to potatoes and pack nutritional and flavor punch. You can use them as the focus of a meal or slide them in as a side. Here are some favorite dishes.

Sweet potato nachos

Nachos are a yummy dish to serve while watching the Seahawks or enjoying Family Movie Night. Swap out the heavy fried chips for sweet potatoes in this recipe for a winning way to serve nachos.


Photo credit: Talis Tomatoes

Sweet potato burritos

Love burritos but want to add more nutrition and flavor? These sweet potato burritos are a tasty lunchtime (or dinnertime) treat for even the pickiest of eaters. Make a batch of these ahead of time and enjoy them all week long.


Photo credit: Half Baked Harvest

Sweet potato fries

Fries are a wonderful addition to any meal but sweet potato fries really amp up the flavor. This recipe calls for a creamy baked Harissa feta side, which really makes the sweet potatoes shine. You won’t go back to regular fries after enjoying this dish.

Photo credit: Camille Styles


Pumpkins are not just for carving or lattes, they also make a healthy, tasty addition to any dinnertime meal. Grab a pumpkin or two when you are next at the grocery story and prepare to wow your family.

Pumpkin spice tacos

Taco Tuesday will never be the same after your family enjoys these pumpkin spice tacos. They’ll be clamoring for more pumpkin flavor and asking for thirds. These tacos are easy to make and even easier to enjoy.


Photo credit: Second Breakfast

Pumpkin fritters

This recipe is divine and really showcases pumpkin flavor. You can also substitute butternut squash if you’d prefer the squash flavor. While fried, they are packed with nutrition.

Photo credit: Half Baked Harvest

Pumpkin hummus

Hummus is a family favorite but pack it full of delicious pumpkin for a hearty treat. Serve it with sliced vegetables instead of pita bread or crisps to add in even more nutritional goodness.

From 12 On-The-Go Breakfasts

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