Recipe by Triad to Wellness Consulting – Photo Courtesy of Kristen Massad
Veggie-Centric Meal | Zucchini Noodles
Pesto is one of those satisfyingly perfect, extremely versatile foods that tastes great with almost anything. Whether it’s atop pasta, used as a dip, or eaten on its own, pesto is an essential part of summer fare. Our Avocado Spinach Pesto is everything you love about the classic recipe, but with a creamy and heart-healthy twist, minus the cheese. In fact, every single ingredient in our recipe has major health benefits that will keep you feeling your best. It is packed with healthy fats, plant nutrients, chlorophyll, fiber, and protein. We love using avocados in this pesto-inspired sauce because it adds a silky-smooth consistency and cheese-like richness to our dairy-free recipe and it is creamy without using any cream. When the avocado is blended with the spinach, basil, hemp, and pine nuts, it becomes a nutrient-dense, flavor packed, fresh, and savory sauce that beautifully coats the zucchini spirals in a bright green hue. The neutral flavor of zucchini makes it a great pasta substitute and when topped with our Avocado Spinach Pesto, this dish is a vegan and gluten-free meal that is rich and indulgent tasting, yet light and full of nutrition. Pure pesto pasta perfection!
Nutrient Booster: Zucchini, Avocado, Spinach + Hemp
Zucchini is high in essential nutrients, such as potassium, manganese, and antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including vitamin C and Vitamin A. We love using this heart-healthy vegetable as a pasta substitute in our dish because its potassium content can be anatural way to lower blood pressure. A diet rich in potassium can reduce the risk of stroke and may lower the odds of developing heart disease.
Not only do avocados add a delicious and creamy texture to our pesto, but it is also prized for its high nutrient value. Avocados are rich in dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, K, folate, vitamin B-6 and so much more. Avocados contain heart-healthy fatty acids which may help protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Avocados are filling, incredibly nutritious and make a tasty addition to a healthy diet.
We love the untraditional addition of spinach in our pesto recipe because it is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. Spinach contains high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Spinach is also a good source of antioxidants, which may help fight aging and reduce the risk if oxidative stress. Eating spinach may also benefit eye health, help prevent cancer and reduce blood pressure levels.
Hemp hearts contain all 10 essential amino acids, making them a complete plant-based protein source. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as the rare omega-6 Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA). The GLA helps reduce cholesterol levels, inflammation, and improves hormone balancing and heart health. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts are easy to add to your favorite recipes for a boost of superfood nutrition, especially in our pesto! For more information, check out the Manitoba Harvest website.
We love the simplicity and versatility of our Avocado Spinach Pesto Zoodles–it is deliciously light and healthy, and can be served as a main dish or a satiating side. You can toss the pesto over veggie noodles, gluten-free pasta or spaghetti squash. Spread it on sandwiches, use it to make salad dressings, or serve it as a dip for raw vegetables. For a protein-packed complete meal, add our Black Sesame Seed Encrusted Salmon, Eggplant Pesto Meatballs, or our Simple Black Bean Burgers atop this pesto zoodle dish. From pizza to pasta, to chicken and fish, the “pesto-bilities” are endless!
Avocado Spinach Pesto Zoodles
Avocado Spinach Pesto
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 avocados
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup basil, packed
- 1/4 cup hemp hearts
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 8 medium zucchini, washed and spiralized
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Avocado Spinach Pesto
- In a food processor add the garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper, and process for one minute. Add the avocado, spinach, basil, hemp hearts, and pine nuts to the food processor and mix for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and zucchini and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Place in a large bowl when done. Slowly add the pesto to the "zoodles", mixing intermediately between batches. Top with cherry or grape tomatoes
Serving size: 1 cup, Calories: 160 calories, Fat: 12 grams, Saturated fat: 1.5 grams, Carbohydrates: 11 grams, Sugar: 5 grams, Sodium: 83 milligrams, Fiber: 5 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Browse my entire list of hearty, healthy entree recipes here.