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gluten free dinner ideas

Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

October 16, 2022

No need to separately boil the pasta or make a separate sauce! This weeknight friendly, one pan gluten free baked ziti has a super fast prep, and even easier clean up!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Fall weather is here!

I think we have made the final pivot from warm, summer weather into a cooler, and more crisp fall pattern – and my crew eats. that. up! They are true Michiganders and are perfectly giddy for fall, and the anticipation of those first snow flakes in the coming months! Their momma, on the other hand…well, she would prefer summer stick around, but if we are going to make a shift to cooler weather, then I’m going to take advantage and get my oven on!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Comforting oven meals on a week night time frame!

Because as the kids get older, man alive do things get busier! When they were little, we were home a lot more often, so flipping the oven on all afternoon, even on a weekday, was not out of the norm. The girls are older now, and each have their own passions to pursue, and of course zipping them around to hang out with friends is so important for this very social age as well! With a work at home mom that also likes to be involved at school (they are only at that helping out at school age for so long!), my plate is also happily full, and I’ve developed some really great, nourishing dinners to help me keep real food on the table, even on a busy weeknight.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Baked ziti in one pan?!

It’s like a dream, right?! Sometimes those pasta dishes seem daunting on a weekday just because you have to boil the pasta. I’ve taken the boiling step out of this super fun, kid favorite dinner, making this “dump it all in dinner” a perfect weeknight solution! Chop a quick side salad and your crew will have dinner on the table in no time!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Let’s get this simple one pot meal started!

You’ll want to use on oven safe casserole dish, braiser, or pot that has a lid. I like to use my pan that I can use stovetop as well so that I can brown the meat, and then dump the rest of the ingredients right in. If you don’t have a casserole pan or brasier that can be used stovetop, you can brown the meat separately, and then add everything to your casserole pan or baking dish to bake. Again, you’ll want a pan or pot that has a lid – if you don’t, you can use a baking pan and cover with aluminum foil.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Now for the “dump it all in” part!

Once the meat is seasoned and browned, just stir the rest of the ingredients in – yes, even the dried pasta and uncooked spinach! It will all cook together in the oven! Put the lid on your casserole, and you are free for 30 minutes to help kids with homework, pack lunchboxes, change a diaper, or even {gasp!} read a chapter of your book! Easy peasy, right?!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Can I veggie load this baked ziti?

This baked ziti has a load of spinach, and even some creamy pumpkin puree inside, so I tend to serve it with a side salad for simplicities sake. You absolutely can “veggie load” the sauce if you have hesitant salad eaters, or little ones not loving salads yet. My suggestion would be to use finely chopped cauliflower and shredded carrot which will all blend in super easy.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Let’s talk toppings for my dairy free friends!

Our family is dairy free for the most part, but we do tolerate sheep’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses, so I keep a lot of manchego on hand. My family also enjoys the Violife Vegan cheese that is coconut oil based with a great ingredient list. I don’t use a lot of vegan cheeses because of the ingredients, but this is a good one and tastes pretty great! You could also top your baked ziti with bread crumbs, gluten free bread crumbs, or a ground up nut combo.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp friendly fat to cook in butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil
  • 2 lbs grassfed ground beef
  • 1– 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast optional – see Notes for details
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree fresh or canned
  • 2 cups bone broth or water
  • 1 – 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 2– 3 cups baby spinach You can finely chop this if you want it less noticeable
  • 12 oz dry pasta of choice We use GF rice pasta
  • 2 cups cheese of choice to top I use a Manchego since we tolerate sheep’s milk best. See Notes for dairy free options

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • You can make this entire dish in a stove top/oven safe casserole, braiser, or pot with a lid. If you do not have this, you can brown the meat in a skillet and transfer everything to an oven safe casserole pan with a lid or use aluminum foil.
  • Melt the fat in a large oven safe casserole pan or braiser over medium high heat, and brown the beef with the sea salt. Add the Italian seasoning, onion & garlic powders, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the nutritional yeast, pumpkin puree, bone broth, tomato sauce, spinach, and pasta. Stir to combine and top with cheese.
  • Put the lid on your casserole, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. I like to take the lid off at the end and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top and crisp up any edges too!

Notes

  • If you don’t use nutritional yeast, you can leave this out, or if you can have dairy, you can stir some cheese into the mixture.
  • If you are dairy free, you can top your baked ziti with bread crumbs, gluten free bread crumbs, or a ground up nut combo.
  • If you have little ones that don’t like to eat a salad along side dinners like these, you can definitely “veggie-load” this baked ziti wit a couple cups of finely chopped cauliflower or cabbage, or shredded carrots! 
  • I don’t even drain the grease from browning the meat, because it add so much flavor. We get a half side of grassfed beef every year for the freezer, and the meat from grassfed cows is super lean. If your beef lends a lot of grease, you can drain some of it.

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Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

August 28, 2021

Get dinner done in one shot with this easy one skillet creamy tomato basil spinach pasta and chicken!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Birthday girl dinner requests!

The youngest member of our crew turns 8 this week! EIGHT! I have no idea how this is even possible, but she is just the kindest little spunk you ever did meet. The most perfect blend of sweet and spice! She is my rainbow after the storm, and without getting to emotional on you, our household is truly complete with her. In honor of her birthday, I wanted to share her dinner request! In true third kid form, she is incredibly go-with-the-flow, and while I would have made her just about anything, I’m *super* pumped that she picked this easy, one skillet dinner considering her birthday is 2 days before the new school year starts!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

One skillet mealtime perfection!

Is there really ever a time of year where a one pot meal doesn’t work? I think not! Whether its the on-the-go summer days, or busy school routine winter weeks, having a dinner that can be done in one skillet is really a game changer! You may even want to use a larger skillet, or 2 of them to double up so that there are leftovers for lunch the next day – this skillet is sure to disappear fast!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

Veggie packed, and macro-nutrient balanced

Because we’re doing a whole dinner in one skillet, I usually try to get every meal component into the skillet. Side salads are nice, but a truly one skillet dinner has it all. This also makes it much easier to get a load of nutrient packed veggies into smaller children without the fuss of a salad. Once the spinach wilts down, the kids will never know its there – and there is a lot of it! Protein from the chicken, healthy fats all around, and some slow burning, fiber rich carbohydrates – a balanced one pot meal!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

A note on the protein

You really can change this up to your family’s preferences. If your crew prefers chicken breasts, by all means change that up! If you only have beef in the house, that would taste amazing as well. I think the flavor that chicken thighs lend into the pan is life changing – if you have some around give it a try!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

Let’s talk about the pasta!

There are so many gluten free pasta choices around these days! If you don’t need to be gluten free, you can use whatever pasta you like to use. I prefer a brown rice pasta for gluten free versions and you can find them both at the grocery stores, as well as online now. The pasta will cook right in the liquid of the skillet, so there is no need to get a pot of water boiling. The starches from the pasta will give the sauce a creaminess that is so comforting, and once again, everything is done all in one pan!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

Veggie change ups, and leftovers!

There is a myriad of ways to get even more veggies into this skillet. One of my favorites is to add finely chopped cauliflower. They take on the color of the sauce, and don’t change the flavor at all. My crew also loves when I add mushrooms. You can add both of these into step 3 where you are sautéing the sundried tomatoes and garlic. And speaking of sundried tomatoes! Costco has a great jar of them packed in olive oil! You can find them just about anywhere, but really be careful to take note of what they are packed in – either a really good healthy oil, or just dried in a package is best. You can also leave them out if you don’t have access. Leftovers taste amazing warmed up with a splash of water or bone broth. You can pack it in a thermos for work or school too!

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Whisk the sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl and sprinkle over the chicken thighs, seasoning each side. I use my hands to get the rub onto both sides of the chicken.
  • Heat a large skillet over high heat, and melt the coconut oil. You will want the pan screaming hot so that it gives the chicken a good sear. Place the chicken into the oiled pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. You want a golden sear on both sides. Set the chicken aside to rest.
  • Turn the skillet temperature down to medium heat and add the red wine to deglaze the pan. Stir the wine around, and then add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and tomato paste. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until everything is fragrant.
  • Add the basil, tomato sauce, coconut milk, water, and dried pasta and stir to combine. Stir in half of the chopped baby spinach and cover the skillet with a lid.
  • Let the pasta simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes before stirring. Once you stir the pasta, add the chicken back into the skillet, along with the rest of the spinach, and put the lid back on. Cook on medium heat until the pasta is al dente – check your box of pasta to see how long it takes to cook and follow that.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, you can serve with grated cheese, fresh basil, or a dollop of coconut cream!

Notes

  • You can swap the wine for broth or water if you can’t have the wine – the flavor depth it brings is fantastic though so if you have it, use it! The alcohol cooks off so it is safe for children.
  • I get my sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil at Costco. If you don’t have access to a good sun dried tomato in safe packaging or oil, you can cook down some halved cherry tomatoes with the red wine and garlic at the beginning of the recipe, or leave them out completely.
  • If you can’t have the pasta,  you can leave out the extra water and serve your creamy tomato basil and spinach sauce and chicken over spaghetti squash, or a baked potato or sweet potato.
One Skillet Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta & Chicken

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