The Easy, Protein-Packed Weeknight Dinner Busy Philipps Swears By

The actress and mother of two is a big fan of this easy-to-make dish.

Actress Busy Philipps, who's known for her roles on the TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Cougar Town (and, more recently, her hilariously honest Instagram stories) sat down with Health to talk all things wellness during the Michael's Make It Feel Like Fall event last week in New York City.

The actress—who has been married to screenwriter husband Marc Silverstein since 2007and has two adorable daughters, Birdie, 8, and Cricket, 4—was kind enough to share her favorite easy weeknight dinner with us. After a long day, it's not always easy to whip up a gourmet dinner that's equal parts filling, nutritious, and tasty. But Philipps' go-to is one of those rare meals that's healthy, requires minimal prep time, and will make the whole family happy.

"We do a turkey marinara thing and the girls eat pasta and I do zucchini noodles," Philipps said. The actress explained that she uses a spiralizer to create the veggie noodles with the help of daughter Birdie. To add protein, she then mixes in ground lean or dark meat turkey and store-bought pasta sauce to the dish. "It needs to be easy," she said.

Philippsserves regular pasta to her daughters while she and her husband (who mainly eat gluten-free and paleo), stick to the zoodles. "I try to get them to eat the zucchini noodles but that often doesn't work," she said. To sneak vegetables into her daughters' meals, Philipps tells us she uses a strategy she learned from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook: "I try to do the trick of grating zucchini and broccoli and putting it into the sauce to make it a little bit packed with vitamins."

Busy isn't the only zoodle fanatic around; Health's food director Beth Lipton also loves this low-carb, high-protein dish. Read on to learn how to make our veggie-packed take on the classic Italian meal.

Zoodles With Meat Sauce

Serves 4


3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 lb. ground beef (preferably grass-fed) or ground turkey (preferably dark meat; not 99% fat free)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups jarred spaghetti sauce (look for a brand with no sugar added)

3 large or 4 medium zucchini

Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving, optional

1. In a large saucepan, warm 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add beef and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until meat is broken up and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.

2. Using a spiralizer (we like the OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Spiralizer; $40, or vegetable peeler, cut zucchini into noodle shapes. Warm remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zoodles, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing often with tongs, until they reach desired doneness, about 2 to 7 minutes, depending on how well you like them cooked. Transfer to a colander and allow excess water to drain off. Taste sauce and season with salt and/or pepper, if desired.

3. Divide zoodles among 4 shallow bowls and spoon meat sauce on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired, and serve.

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