Instant pot spaghetti and meat sauce 

Like guys. My mind is blown over this instant pot. I am obsessed with it. As a working mom of 2, it is a serious game changer for dinnertime. We make spaghetti and meat sauce or baked ziti a lot in my house. It’s so delicious, quick, and I can keep it healthy and organic when I have control over the ingredients. But one downside is all the dishes. Usually I have to brown the meat in a skillet, then boil pasta in another pot, and drain it in a colander. And if I’m making ziti, I usually bake it in a Pyrex for a while too. That’s a lot of dishes to clean up. I made the most delicious ziti tonight and I only had to clean my stainless steel bowl from the instant pot. Freaking AMAZING. 

1 lb ground organic turkey or beef 
1 lb organic pasta (I used penne but you could use ziti or whatever you like)
1 25 oz jar organic spaghetti sauce 
25 oz water 
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning 

Turn the instant pot on sauté mode. Brown your beef with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. 

Once the meat is browned, add the sauce. Then fill up your sauce jar with water and pour that in. 

Then add your pasta and make sure the pasta is all under the liquid. 

Turn the instant pot off and then back on on steam and set the time for 5 minutes. 
After the time is up, do a natural release for 5 minutes and then carefully do a quick release. 

To make this into baked ziti, top each individual bowl with 3 tablespoons of ricotta and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella. Mix the cheese while the pasta is hot. 

If desired, top with Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes! 

21 Day Fix Baked Ziti 

One thing I really love about the 21 Day Fix diet is that you can be creative and eat the things you love. I grew up in an Italian family who loves to cook and eat together. Baked ziti was always a staple. I love making meals like this that allow me to stick to my plan, but also taste delicious and my family doesn’t even notice it’s my “diet food”. 

When I saw that the 21 Day Fix counted ricotta cheese a protein, I was like OMG – quick!!! Get the store immediately so I can make baked ziti!!! I do have the containers, but when I’m cooking I like to just look up the measurements and use measuring cups. 
For this recipe, tomato sauce counts as purple and I used 1 cup. Whole grain pasta counts as yellow and I used 1/2 cup. Ricotta counts as red and I used 2/3 cup. This is a bit much if you don’t really love Ricotta like I do, so feel free to back it off to 1/3 cup and only count it for 1/2 a red container. Lean ground beef counts as red and I used 2/3 cup. You could also use ground turkey, chicken, beef, bison, or venison here. And shredded mozzarella counts as blue and I used 1/4 cup. I also used all organic ingredients. All of these together is one serving and would count as 1 purple, 1 yellow, 2 red and 1 blue. 
You have the option of scooping these ingredients into individual bowls (or Tupperware containers for lunch the next day) or into a larger baking dish and diving up the portions. I like doing it both ways. 

Try this out and let me know what you think! 


1 lb lean ground beef (or other ground meat – very lean, >95%) 

Whole grain pasta – about 1/2 lb

Container of light ricotta cheese

Shredded mozzarella cheese (about a bag)


1. Brown ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and dried thyme. Set aside to cool off. 

2. Boil pasta according to instructions on the box. Set aside to cool. 

3. Measure your portions into a bowl or larger baking dish. If using a baking dish, duplicate the measurements by 2 or 3. If baking, mix all ingredients together and top with a little mozzarella. 

Tomato sauce – 1 cup (purple)

Whole grain pasta – 1/3 cup (yellow)

Light Ricotta cheese – 2/3 cup (red)

Lean ground beef – 2/3 cup (red)

Shredded mozzarella cheese – 1/4 cup (blue)

4. Microwave your individual bowl to desired temperature (I like 30-45 seconds).  Or if baking, bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Let me know what you think about this 21 Day Fix friendly baked ziti. 

Shrimp Pasta with Lemon and Spinach

This shrimp pasta with lemon and spinach recipe is so easy, fast, and absolutely DELICIOUS. I’ve been making some version of it for the past few weeks at least once a week because it’s so easy and fast, my entire family (toddler and baby included) will eat it, and it’s healthy and sticks to our current diet plan. 

I really love using sautéed shrimp in weeknight recipes because it’s so fast and can take on any flavor you pair with it. Even though lemon, shrimp, and spinach remind me of a summery dinner, I love it because it’s light and we are having a very healthy month since it’s January and we are trying to kick off the new year right! 

I always buy wild caught shrimp because the farmed ones are YUCKY. Trust me, you don’t want to eat what they are feeding the farmed shrimp. Get shrimp from their natural habitat – THE OCEAN. Always keep an eye out for deals on frozen wild caught shrimp. Whenever I see a good sale, I grab a bag or two to keep in my freezer. That way, I can run the shrimp under cold water in my sink for about 5-10 minutes in a colander to thaw them out and dinner is ready in a flash! 

1 lb wild caught shrimp (if you can find it already peeled and deveined, I usually pay the extra couple bucks for this because with a baby and a toddler – I think it’s worth it!) 

6-8 oz organic pasta of your choice. Lately we have been using a lot of spelt pasta

1 lemon 

3 large handfuls of organic baby spinach 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

Salt, pepper, garlic powder 


1. Thaw out your shrimp by running cold water over them in a colander in your sink. Or if you’re thinking ahead, thaw them overnight in your refrigerator. Then dry them with paper towels. Season both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 

2. Boil water for pasta and cook according to the instructions on the box. 

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes on one side and an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side. When the shrimp start to curl up and become pink, they are done. Transfer cooked shrimp to a bowl and set aside. 

4. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. It’s okay that it’s still dirty from the shrimp. It will all ended up married together later anyway. Add spinach and allow to cook down for about 5 minutes or until it’s all sautéed to the same consistency. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. 

5. In a large bowl or your pasta pot, combine your cooked pasta, cooked shrimp, sautéed spinach, the zest and juice from one lemon, and your last tablespoon of olive oil. Stir together carefully and check for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper and garlic powder if needed. Your shrimp pasta dinner is coming together!

I have been experimenting with all different kinds of pasta lately. We loved this spelt penne too:


If you have any other ideas for quick weeknight dinners, please share in the comments below!  Also, try out this shrimp pasta with lemon and spinach recipe and let me know what you think.