Pesto Turkey Meatballs (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo Friendly)

I eat a fair amount of chicken, in fact, it is a go-to in my diet. When eating chicken, I really only eat the breast because it is lower in calories and fat, but very high in protein. However, I do go through phases where chicken does not sound appealing because I have eaten too much of it. So, I decided I needed a change.

My second go-to meat is always lean ground turkey. I love it’s versatility and protein content. I personally buy 99% lean, because I tend to add healthy fats (like olive oil and coconut oil) to my cooking and do not need the extra fat from meat. However, for some, 99% lean is way too dry. If this is you, I suggest trying 90% lean! With that being said, I couldn’t decide how I wanted to cook it up. I wasn’t in the mood for tacos or burgers…then I realized something I haven’t had in awhile…MEATBALLS!

Now, this brings up a fun fact. For my friends that know me, you know I love Jersey Shore. So, I thought why not make some versatile, Italian flavored meatbawls, in honor of Jersey Shore Family Vacation finally airing and being so successful! I am a huge fan of a few shows on MTV, but Jersey Shore is literally the reason I pay for a Hulu account. I just love a good reality tv show!

My first step was to think about the flavors that I like most in Italian cooking. My number one is always basil! I love how it can make a meal taste fresh and so flavorful while also being a leafy green (that counts right?) But what’s better than just basil? Pesto. I had a jar of pesto from Trader Joe’s that I have been using in various ways, but this seemed like a great way to add flavor to my meatballs. I also love dried oregano, minced garlic, and to my father’s disapproval, dried parsley. These flavors can easily be used in many ways and with many sauces, pastas, and salads.

Now, normally meatballs call for breadcrumbs. However, I am gluten-free (if you haven’t noticed). I decided to try to make them with almond flour instead of any type of bread crumb. This also eliminated any high carbs or extra/unneeded starches. If you have a nut allergy, I am sure rice flour would work as well, but like I said, I didn’t want the extra carbs. The use of almond flour also made my meatballs paleo friendly, so enjoy babes!

Pesto Turkey Meatballs Recipe

I was able to make 13 large meatballs, but if you wanted to make more, you could just use less meat in each ball. PS: these are better enjoyed while watching Snooki and Deena day drink and dance their hearts out (;

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried or fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried or fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 °F. Line a baking sheet with foil. This creates easier clean up for you! IMG_7045
  2. In a mixing bowl, add egg, garlic, almond flour, parsley, oregano, pesto, salt, and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Add your lean ground turkey. Be sure to mix really well so all of the turkey is covered in flavors, egg, and flour!
  4. Using a tablespoon for measurement, take a scoop of turkey and using your hands, roll into a tight ball and place on your baking sheet. If this thought totally disgusts you, you can also use a cookie scoop so you aren’t touching the raw meat. When making your meatballs, remember to try to make them all a similar size so you can be sure they cook through all the way.
  5. Put baking sheet in the oven and allow your meatballs to cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Using tongs, flip your meatballs so they brown on both sides. Cook for 10 more minutes.
  7. Allow to cool.
  8. You can enjoy them on pasta, add them to my Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto or how I decided to enjoy them tonight, with some veggies and homemade tzatziki! Just because they are Italian meatballs, it doesn’t mean they can’t go well with Greek (;
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All Natural, Low Carb Cookie Dough Balls (Vegan, Dairy-free, and Gluten-free)

What if I told you that just because you are trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to give up cookie dough? I’m not talking about eating cookie dough in moderation (although this is absolutely okay too.) I am talking about getting some healthy fats, protein, and satisfaction from cookie dough that you can eat everyday. Sounds crazy, right? My friend Ryan thought so too after I told him what I was eating as a late night sweet treat that would not harm my body.

IMG_6587If you learn to cook with ingredients that do not harm your body, you can create a variety of different recipes that satisfy certain cravings. We all diet or eat healthy for different reasons. Some are trying to lose weight, some are trying to gain healthy weight, some are trying maintain their weight, some are trying to gain muscle, some just want to be healthy, and if you’re like me, you are trying to fight a chronic condition naturally (to learn more about mine, click here.) All of these reasons are absolutely valid, and you deserve to still indulge, but if you can have an indulging treat that actually had benefits, wouldn’t you take that? I know I would, and I do! So, what are some of these ingredients that are used to make cookie dough balls that have benefits?

  • Coconut Oil: Yes, coconut oil is high in fat, but the fat it is high in is healthy! It actually has the power to turn bad cholesterol into good cholesterol helping aid in digestion, weightless, and curbing your appetite. It is also a powerful brain food that improves memory and brain function. And my favorite benefit? It actually helps fight off unwanted bacteria via lauric acid. Lauric acid is great at killing bacteria and viruses both internally and externally. I once had poison oak, and I was told if I put coconut oil on the spots, it would improve the condition quickly. I actually woke up the next morning and it was almost gone! I personally use Vita Coco Coconut Oil that runs for about $8 at Target…and it is sometimes on sale for only $6! I find it to have the best flavor and scent.
  • Almond Flour: As my readers know by now, I am gluten-free. Almond flour has been a great way for me to be gluten-free without the extra carbs that come from rice and corn flour. Almond flour is actually paleo friendly as well! Not to mention, the high amounts of protein that are in the flour itself. In just 1/4 cup, you can find up to 6 grams of protein! I buy a large bag (3lbs) for $10 at Costco. You can find it elsewhere, but this is a great price!
  • 100% Pure Maple Syrup (all natural and organic): This is not the same as Mrs. Butterworth, or even Sugar-Free Syrup. Pure Maple Syrup is a perfect alternative to sugar. It is lower on the glycemic score, and effects your blood sugar way less drastically than regular cane sugar. It also contains natural antioxidants and vitamins, helps fight inflammation, and improves your digestion. Maple Syrup, like everything else, should be consumed in moderation. However, it is a perfect sweetener to start using in your baking! You can buy an expensive brand, but the one I use is actually from Target for only about $4!

So, have I convinced you to look at my Cookie Dough Ball recipe yet? I made them chocolate chip flavor for this recipe, but in the past I have also made Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, and Double-Chocolate Chip. If you’d like the recipe to these flavors as well, let me know in the comments below!

All Natural, Low Carb Cookie Dough Balls Recipe

This recipe yields 8-10 balls depending on the size. Now you can share them, or you can store leftovers in the fridge…or consume all at once. Remember, no judgement here (;

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup (honey is a great alternative as well)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • optional: 2 tablespoons 100% pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine your coconut oil, almond or coconut milk, vanilla, and maple syrup.
  2. Slowly add your almond flour and mix well by hand.
  3. Gently fold in your dark chocolate chips.
  4. Take about a tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Place on a plate or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes until solid.
  6. Enjoy!

IMG_6581Not pictured: the two cookie dough balls I instantly consumed to make sure this recipe was delicious x2. Sometimes recipe testing does that to you (; And yes, I used a plate because my fridge has limited room! This clearly works just as well as a cookie sheet!

 

The Fudging Best Brownies Recipe (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and LOW CARB!)

Being gluten-free isn’t easy, especially when dairy-restricted and certain-foods-cause-my-body-extreme-pain are also part of the deal. Something that I’ve had to adjust to is bringing my own food on trips, to parties, friends houses, work meetings…you name it! Lately, I’ve been trying to bring food that I create (a great excuse for recipe testing) so I can share it with others and give them the experience of eating the way I do. Whether it be a platter with specific cheeses, crackers, dips, and meats or something like brownies, I want everyone to understand that just because I do have a restricted diet does not mean what I eat is any less delicious. That’s where this recipe came in.

img_6442I was going to a party at my best friend’s house and I knew I needed to bring something to munch on. I was already going to be bringing my own gluten-free pizza, but I wanted to bring something to share as well. I was in the mood for brownies, and I figured it was the perfect time to create something new, healthy, and adapted to what I can eat. I made this based off of my love for dark chocolate and desire to eat all the peanut butter in the world. Now, I am sure this would taste amazing if you made it with almond butter or even sun butter instead, but I absolutely love peanut butter with dark chocolate.

I am not yet a ghee user, hence why I used coconut oil instead. Ghee would work deliciously, but I love the toasted, nutty flavor you get from using coconut oil, and so did my friends and family! They were also surprised that almond flour tasted great and is so much lower in carbs (after all, it’s just almonds!) Speaking of my consumers, they were all shocked that there were no non-natural ingredients in these brownies. No one would have guessed that these brownies weren’t just really great normal brownies. I had so many people asking me to make them a batch, or share my recipe…so here it is!

The Fudging Best Brownies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons solid coconut oil
  • ½ cup organic, pure maple syrup
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tablespoons organic, natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup of almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup organic mini dark chocolate chips
  • Crushed peanuts and mini dark chocolate chips to garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F.
  2. Using a mixer, combine coconut oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl. Blend in eggs, almond milk, vanilla, and peanut butter.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, sea salt, and baking powder. Make sure there are no lumps, and check around the bottom edges of the bowl for any flour build up.
  4. Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients to your coconut oil/peanut butter mixture. Add your dark chocolate chips.
  5. Line an 8” X 8” baking pan with parchment paper and if desired, spray a coat of coconut oil cooking spray for less sticking. Pour batter into the baking pan and spread evenly. Garnish with crushed peanuts and more dark chocolate chips (optional).
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Mine personally took 35 minutes, but it does depend on your oven!
  7. Remove from oven and allow to set and cool before slicing into squares.
  8. Enjoy with family, friends, or coffee!

Cheesy Kale Chips (Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

IMG_6423If you follow my blog or Instagram (@wellnessandwelldrinks) you know my absolute obsession with kale. It is honestly one of my favorite foods. So, it should be no surprise that I am bringing you another kale recipe! Yes, I fully believe one day I will turn green, and no I am never going to end the positive relationship kale and I have.

I’ve been making kale chips for years. In college, I wanted to find an alternative to carb filled chips, so I found random vegetable chips, one being kale chips. I first tried the version Trader Joe’s sells and although I love them, I knew I could easily make my own version for less than $4 a bag. So I started making kale chips of all flavors; ranch, sea salt, cracked pepper, taco, spicy buffalo…you name it! But something I couldn’t figure out was how to make a delicious cheesy version. Sure, I tried powdered cheese, but that stuff is not the best for your body. My recent dietary needs call for natural, less processed foods. Then I remembered an ingredient I recently started incorporating into my life…nutritional yeast.

If you remember, I used nutritional yeast in my Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce. I will go ahead and paste my excerpt about nutritional yeast again here:

“Nutritional yeast is actually made from an organism that grows on cane and beet IMG_6182molasses which is then harvested and dried to deactivate the yeast. Sounds super unappealing right? I thought so too, until I found out some of the benefits. First of all, nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins, especially B6 and B12. It also helps improve digestion and contains both protein (up to 6 grams per serving) and thiamine, so yes, this can potentially aid in weight-loss. Not to mention, it has antiviral and antibacterial powers so, hello immune system booster! It is way lower calories than cheese, not to mention has no fat, sugar, or added ingredients. Nutritional yeast adds a nutty cheese flavor to all your dishes. I first tried it on some popcorn and wow, it tasted just like parmesan cheese! I am still an avid cheese consumer (it makes wine nights that much better!) but I think it is important to find ways to lessen the amount of dairy I eat, and expose that to others as well. Many stores selling nutritional yeast, but I like to buy mine at Trader Joe’s and Sprout’s.”

My idea came from adding it to popcorn (again, if you haven’t tried that yet, it’s so tasty!) I knew nutritional yeast adds a great cheesy flavor, and now I know that when it’s baked, it becomes even cheesier! Follow my recipe below for a healthy, beneficial snack that will have you shocked at simple it is to make (and consume the entire batch within one sitting…) But hey, it is KALE after all (;

Cheesy Kale Chips Recipe

This recipe yields about 3-4 cups of kale chips when cooked. Honestly, this is one of those recipes you can add more or less seasoning to based on preference. It is easily customizable!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped and steams removed
  • 4-5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 °F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  2. In a bowl, mix together kale, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and spices. I like to use a container with a lid so I can just shake it all together.
  3. Spread the kale out on your cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your crunch preference. I like mine to be crunchy but not burn so I cook for about 12 minutes.
  5. Store extras in an air tight container. Enjoy a portion or all at once (;

5 Basic Essential Oil Blends

My Relationship with Essential Oils

img_6261-2.jpgI first learned about essential oils in college. I suffered from really awful migraines (you know, the ones where the light burns and you vomit from dizziness and pain…) after having multiple concussions (cheerleading and car accidents…). It was starting to affect my dance class attendance and my professor one day handed me a roll-on bottle. She told me to rub it on my temples, neck, and upper shoulders. This worked almost instantly. I had been prescribed so many pain killers that I ended up being allergic to, told to take way too much ibuprofen, and just rest when I didn’t feel well; none of those solutions worked. But this bottle of magic changed my life. I would feel a migraine coming, roll some oils on, and continue my day. Pure. Magic.

I then started exploring other uses for essential oils and my professor would tell me as much as she knew. I started using lavender oil to help me calm down, unwind, and get some sleep. I used eucalyptus oil on days my allergies would kill me. I was obsessed within a few months. In college, I also took a course on Alternative Medicine and Therapies, which of course included a lecture on essential oils. I was happy to share what I knew and to learn even more from that point. I started convincing my friends and family to try them out too. At first, my family was very resistant, but then one day my mom asked if she could try something for her sinus headache. My mix was the only thing that helped her.

I think we turn to medicine too quickly. I 110% believe in doctors, hospitals, and modern medicine (I take hormonal birth control pills and have a prescription nausea pill that are in my life) but I think there are a variety of ways to heal our bodies without always turning to medicine. Alternative medicine is all about what you put in, on, and around your body. It matters what you eat, it matters what chemicals are on your skin, and it matters what air you breathe in. This is exactly why I started my wellness journey, so I could discover ways to heal my body without putting harmful chemicals or pills that give me awful side effects in my body.

I am writing this article based off of what works well for me. I know there are a lot of people out there who share their own knowledge of essential oils, so I am here to share what I know and what I have found to be best for my body. I invite you to try what I have discovered, and tweak anything if needed! Let me know if you do, because I am always to try new things.

Ways to Use Essential Oils

  • Aromatherapy: This is probably the most common way to use essential oils because it is simple and makes the room smell amazing. Essential oil diffusers are designed to mix water and oils to create a mist of essential oils. The air will be full of wonderful scents and all the benefits. Simply fill your diffuser with water (making sure not to get any cords wet), add a few drops of your oils, turn it on, and enjoy. I’ve had a few diffusers that only seem to last a couple of years at a time (mind you I use mine for at least 10 hours a day). I am currently using my little brother’s old one (see, I turned my family on to oils) and I actually love it. Here is the link on Amazon. Mine is dark brown and has pretty decent settings!
  • Topically: Essential oils are immediately absorbed by the skin because they are fat soluble, however you should never apply them directly to the skin without being diluted first. This was a mistake I used to make and I actually damaged my skin, so be careful! To dilute or mix your essential oils, use a what is called a carrier oil. A carrier oil is cold-pressed and do not evaporate like essential oils. I personally use coconut oil or castor oil, but I know others who use almond oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil as well. Be sure to buy a carrier oil that is all natural and if possible, organic. I will tell you more about the different places to apply your oils later in this article, but some common place are your wrists, temples, feet, neck, and abdomen.
  • Steam inhalation: This usage is great if you are using oils for colds or allergies. They can also be beneficial to your skin! To do this, boil about 3 cups of water and transfer to a bowl. Add 3-6 drops of oil to the water. Place the bowl on a steady, flat surface. Cover your head and bowl with a towel and never get closer than about 10 inches from the bowl. Slowly, inhale the steam and take deep breaths.
  • Ingest/Internal Usage: If you have good quality oils and they are appropriately marked, you can actually ingest your essential oils. Adding oils to water is a great way to get the benefits while also drinking a flavored drink that keeps you completely hydrated. You can also add them to plain sparkling water for a customized fizzy drink, use them in tea for even more flavor, and even in cooking/baking. I once made delicious lavender/lemon cupcakes that were fully flavored from essential oils. It is a great way to get benefits and be creative!

5 Basic Essential Oil Blends

In this post, you will see I use Plant Guru essential oils. This is my preferred, all natural brand, so please keep negative comments about my choice to yourself. I know everyone has their own preference and this is mine! I love how high their potency is and the therapeutic grade quality of the oils! You can find them on Amazon; this pack is a great deal, and a really great place to start. I just went over this with my girl Kara today (;

  1. Goodnight Blend- Lavender, Frankincense, and Sweet Orange This blend is IMG_6256-2what I use in my diffuser on most nights. I recently featured it on my Instagram story for those who follow me there (@wellnessandwelldrinks). These oils all help relieve stress and add calmness to the room as I sleep. Lavender oil, one of my favorites, reduces stress/anxiety, helps improve sleep, and can cure headaches. Frankincense oil can help focus the energy in the room, and help with your sinuses. Sweet Orange boosts your immune system, eliminates toxins, and helps brighten your mood. I also use this blend in a spray bottle with water that I mist over my bed before I sleep. I find myself waking up less in the night as well as waking up feeling refreshed instead of groggy.

  2.  Shark Week Relief Blend- Lavender, Peppermint, and Frankincense Ladies, IMG_6267this one is for YOU! I just told my friend about this wonderful blend and I’m excited to hear back about her results! We just learned that lavender can relieve stress, and that includes stress on the body caused by cramps. It will help your body relax and ease the tension. Frankincense is also really great for relieving inflammation, which is what causes a lot of the cramping and pain during your period. Peppermint is the BEST pain relief oil! It cools and relaxes your body and provides great pain relief. I apply this topically with coconut oil on my lower abdomen a few times a day.

  3. Breathe Blend- Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Lemon Grass Cold? Flu? IMG_6266Allergies? Feeling like you need to open your sinuses or lungs? This is a great blend for you. Peppermint’s strong scent helps relieve headaches and sinus pressure almost instantly. Eucalyptus has many benefits, but in this case will help relieve decongestion. Lemon Grass, if you knew me in college, you know I often use this as a perfume because I love the scent so much! In this blend, it helps kill off the bacterias and viruses that could be making you feel crummy. I like to use this in my diffuser on nights I feel a cold coming on, as well as apply to my temples and neck topically. I also use steam inhalation with this blend to relieve symptoms when I have a cold or bad allergies.

  4. Warm and Cozy- Clove Bud, Orange, and Cinnamon Okay, so this one doesn’t IMG_6260-2have a specific benefit, but it does make your room smell like a beautiful autumn day. If you are in the mood to get cozy and feel warm, this is a great blend.  Orange is a mood booster, Clove refreshes your senses and kills bacteria, and finally cinnamon decreases inflammation as well as helps relieve depression. So maybe there are some benefits, but I only use this in my diffuser when I’m missing Halloween season. I am also highly allergic to Cinnamon when used topically, which is why you should always test these out before spreading them all over your body. Cinnamon will stay in my diffuser and away from my skin!

  5. Post Workout Blend- Peppermint, Clove, and Eucalyptus Sore after working IMG_6262hard? Try making this blend! All of these oils will help aid in recovery and relax any sore muscles. I love putting 2-3 drops of each in a small dish, mixing it with coconut oil, and applying to my shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings after a hard workout! I love how it allows me to keep going during the day, and if I need it, I will apply again at night and allow my body to really get some rest! Be cautious about applying after a shower as the peppermint will become cooler the warmer you are. It can having a burning sensation and nobody wants that after a tough workout!

 

 

 

Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce

IMG_6186As most of you know, I am not vegan. However, lately my stomach has been a mess due to my adenomyosis, so I have been trying to eat really whole, natural, and healthy foods for the past couple of days. I’m gluten-free, which helps with the inflammation, but every now and then I try to be dairy and meat free to help my stomach get back on track. Last night, I was craving fettuccini Alfredo, so I brainstormed a way to make this recipe full of veggies, completely dairy free, and just as delicious as the real stuff. I must say, I was actually surprised how well this turned out!

In this recipe, I use nutritional yeast in replacement of cheese. If you have never use this stuff, I highly recommend trying it out. Nutritional yeast is actually made from an organism that grows on cane and beet molasses which is then harvested and dried to deactivate the yeast. Sounds super unappealing right? I thought so too, until I found out some of the benefits. First of all, nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins, especially B6 and B12. It also helps IMG_6182improve digestion and contains both protein (up to 6 grams per serving) and thiamine, so yes, this can potentially aid in weight-loss. Not to mention, it has antiviral and antibacterial powers so, hello immune system booster! It is way lower calories than cheese, not to mention has no fat, sugar, or added ingredients. Nutritional yeast adds a nutty cheese flavor to all your dishes. I first tried it on some popcorn and wow, it tasted just like parmesan cheese! I am still an avid cheese consumer (it makes wine nights that much better!) but I think it is important to find ways to lessen the amount of dairy I eat, and expose that to others as well. Many stores selling nutritional yeast, but I like to buy mine at Trader Joe’s and Sprout’s.

Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce

This recipe yields about 4 cups of Alfredo sauce. I personally got multiple uses out of it, but it could easily serve 4 or 5 people!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups riced cauliflower (note: you can use small cut up pieces as well, riced will help it blend easier)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Boil water in a small sauce pan. Add the riced cauliflower and let cook for 5 minutes. The softer, the better. Then drain.
  2. In a pan, add your olive oil and onions. Let the onion cook until soft and brown in color.
  3. In a blender, combine cooked cauliflower, cooked onion, garlic, almond milk, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Serve warm and store leftovers in an air tight container or jar for up to a week.

Ways to enjoy and use:

  • I made spaghetti squash (for information how to cook spaghetti squash/its benefits IMG_6188 click here) and steamed broccoli, then added a good heaping of this delicious sauce. This picture does not do this dish justice at all, but what can you do (;
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Mix into brown rice or quinoa
  • Pour on top of baked potatoes
  • As a replacement for regular pizza sauce
  • Pour on top of roasted veggies
  • As a dip for air fried veggies
  • Fettachini Alfredo!

Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

IMG_6032That’s right folks, this meal is not only just gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and full of greens…but it is completely vegan! I like to have one day a week where I am fully vegetarian, and today I had a craving for a creamy pesto pasta. So, as usual, I brainstormed how to stuff as much whole, natural goodness as I could in one dish! Thus, my avocado pesto sauce was born and tossed with perfectly cooked spaghetti squash.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I love spaghetti squash. I have a recipe for spaghetti squash with a meaty sauce (for days I am craving more protein than usual), but I am determined to create even more ways to enjoy this pasta substitute! Cooking spaghetti squash is simple and can easily be done while doing other things. For example, I popped my squash in the oven and did some chores…okay I put my dirty clothes from this weekend in the hamper…and I did a hair mask! It’s great because unlike regular pasta, you do not have to babysit it! I personally cook mine in the oven, but I used to cook it in my crock pot, and I’ve heard it’s even easier in an instant pot!

Now, if you aren’t a squash fan, you can always use this pesto in another way! Try it on chicken, regular pasta, as a veggie dip, or even in a salad! The possibilities are endless! What I love the most about it is how creamy the avocado makes the sauce. I used to think you had to use pine nuts or cream of some sort…but I proved that theory wrong. Plus, avocados are extremely good for you, and don’t worry, you don’t taste it with all the basil, garlic, and parsley inside!

Like I’ve stated before on my blog, spaghetti squash is high in fiber, vitamin B, potassium, and omega-3 fats. It also contains the essential minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. All of these benefits can help aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, and help regulate your blood sugar. Bring in my pesto sauce, and you’re getting healthy fats, immune fighting herbs, and plenty of fiber! It’s all around a win-win!

Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto (Vegan and Gluten-Free) Recipe

This recipe includes how to prepare a whole spaghetti squash, so there will be enough for leftovers. As for the pesto, I made enough for one meal, so please feel free to double or triple to fulfill your needs!

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (optional; this time I did not add extra!)

Pesto Sauce

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Optional add ins: 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper and/or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Directions

  1. Start by cooking the spaghetti squash. To do this, preheat your oven to 450 ℉. IMG_6030Pierce your squash with a fork so it can steam. Put your squash on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. This allows the squash to soften making it easier to cut. Cut the squash in half (I cut mine long ways, but the choice is yours) and remove all seeds. Evenly distribute olive oil and seasoning on the squash. Place the halves back on the baking sheet with the inside facing down. This helps the squash steam and not burn. Cook for about 15-20 more minutes. Take out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before trying to touch. With a fork, carefully scrape your squash and create long strings.
  2. For the pesto sauce, start by softening your kale and parsley. This will help make IMG_6031them blend a little easier! I chop them, add them to boiling water for about 2 minutes, and then shock them. “Shocking” vegetables is a trick my father taught me. It keeps them looking bright and colorful because it stops the cooking. To shock vegetables after cooking, pour them straight into a bowl with cold water and ice. This is an extra step, but I am an extra person and like my pesto to be GREEN! Note that I do not do this to the basil. I want the basil to be the prominent flavor, so I don’t cook out any flavor.
  3. Next, combine all your herbs, kale, avocado, garlic, water, olive oil, and spices/flavors in a blender. Sometimes my blender acts like there is not enough liquid, so I add a couple more tablespoons of water until the pesto comes out smooth!
  4. In a bowl, or in the squash rind (save a dish!), portion yourself a serving of spaghetti squash (I eat about 1 1/2 cups at a time) and mix in your pesto sauce.
  5. Indulge in this healthy, vegan dish!