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Pesto Zoodles and other quick and easy dinner ideas perfect for busy weeknights

Registered Dietitian Vanessa Imus shares healthy dinner hacks and what foods you should always keep on hand to help you avoid the takeout menus!

SEATTLE — Vanessa Imus is a Registered Dietitian with UW Medicine who specializes in weight loss management.

In this cooking demo, Vanessa fills us in on what you foods you should have stocked in your pantry and freezer to make healthy meals easier to make. 

Recipe: Pesto Zoodles

From Registered Dietitian Vanessa Imus.

Serves: 2 People


  • 1 package frozen Zucchini noodles or about 2 cups fresh
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes
  • ½ container Vegan Kale Cashew & Basil Pesto
  • Protein of choice: 8 ounces cooked prawns, or 1 can black beans, or 8 ounces chopped or shredded cooked chicken


  • Thaw zucchini noodles for faster cooking (put in the fridge night before or put in a colander and run lukewarm water over them)
  • Heat skillet to medium high heat
  • Add all ingredients, stir occasionally and cook for about 5-7 minutes

Quick Meal Ideas

  • Rotisserie chicken (already prepared, purchased warm from most grocers)
  • Chicken Wraps: tortilla, hummus, greens, avocado + snap peas on the side
  • Burrito Bowls: black beans, arugula, salsa, quinoa/rice, salsa, sauteed peppers/onions
  • Soups: freeze the carcass to later make bone broth: use an instant pot to save time
  • Salmon Burgers (find frozen Trident Wild Salmon burgers at Costco) alongside a salad kit and microwaved sweet potato topped with salsa and plain Greek yogurt
  • Chickpea or lentil pasta (find at most grocer’s including Safeway) + jarred tomato sauce and frozen broccoli (blend the cooked broccoli into the sauce for picky eaters)
  • Frozen Riced Cauliflower Stir-fry (find at Costco or Trader Joe’s and other grocers) add sliced chicken sausage or fried eggs
  • Make a snack plate: hummus, whole grain crackers (such as “Mary’s Gone Crackers”), olives, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, sliced peppers, carrots
  • Smoothie: frozen fruit including frozen banana, spinach, protein powder, milk or milk alternative (any nuts/seeds/avocado if available)

Dinner Hacks

Stay on top of keeping your kitchen well stocked with these tips:

  • Keep on hand black beans for easy protein – canned or cook from scratch and freeze in 1.5 cup portions
  • Peel any bananas going bad and put them in the freezer (add to smoothies or throw in the food processor with peanut butter and cocoa powder for a homemade “ice cream”)
  • Always double the recipe for any sauces you make from scratch and freeze the extra
  • Easy dressing: 1:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar (Balsamic, Apple cider, etc) + 1 tsp mustard to help emulsify it, which limits separation in the fridge
  • Serve fresh raw veggies on the side vs always having to plan to cook them: snap peas, cucumbers, peppers, carrots or pick up a raw veggie tray
  • Keep packaged salad kits on hand (Costco, Trader Joe’s, all grocer’s carry a variety)
  • Keep frozen veggies on hand, cook and add extra to soups, casseroles or blend with marinara sauce (after cooking) for pasta sauce
  • Baby spinach is super versatile: add it to smoothies, cook in eggs, use it as a salad, blend it into tomato sauce, throw in wraps and sandwiches, put it on homemade pizzas, etc.

Segment Producer Derek Haas. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day