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!
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Immune Boosting Herbal Broth

Winter; the season for soup…and a ton of germs. I honestly don’t like winter as much as I do other seasons simply because of how sick everyone gets. This year, the flu epidemic IMG_3511has been extreme and I am doing my best to avoid catching the bug. I take my vitamins, eat my nutritious food, wash my hands, get enough sleep, but there is always more that I can do. So, I did research about healing herbs.

Herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme are known for their immune boosting powers. Garlic and onions are also great antibacterial herbs that can be added to any dish. So, after realizing how powerful this combination is, I decided to make my own broth, or stock as some may say.

I spiced mine up with fresh cracked peppercorn, but feel free to add any additional spices or flavors. This broth is light, flavorful, and powerful. It can be used to make a variety of soups with root vegetables, chicken, kale, or even just consumed on its own. Guilt-free, gluten-free, vegan, all natural goodness.

Immune Boosting Herbal Broth

This recipe yields about 14 cups. Use a hearty handful of each herb. For a stronger broth, use less water.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion chopped, I used yellow onion, but the choice is yours
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves finely chopped
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh sage
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorn

Directions

  1. Always, always wash your herbs to ensure all dirt and debris is removed.
  2. In a large stock pot, add herbs, garlic, onion, and pepper. Pour in 14 cups of water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. On a low heat, cook, covered, for about 45 minutes-1 hour.
  4. Using a spoon, remove leftover large solids and discard. Cool the broth and store in containers. I used 2-3 cup containers and portioned some for the refrigerator and some for the freezer. Refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3-4 months.
  5. Enjoy!

Lean Green Machine Salad

I love greens; yes I am serious. I have never had a problem eating my vegetables or finding new ways to consume them. With that being said, I am sure there are many of image1-2you out there who have a hard time with eating vegetables, especially greens. An old coworker of mine hated vegetables so much she only ate them when mixed in smoothies. This only makes me want to create recipes so everyone can try to get their greens in and actually enjoy it! I challenge all of you, lovers or haters, to try this salad out and let me know what you think! I also challenge you to enjoy this salad with an inspiring book, ice water, and if you are lucky like I was, a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Daily vitamins include Vitamin D!

Lean Green Machine Salad Recipe

This recipe yields about 2 servings. I’m a single gal and like to make enough for 2 meals, but feel free to consume it all at once. No judgment here, just greens. 

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite spicy seasonings (I am using RawSpiceBar’s Shichimi Togarashi spice mix. This includes spices such as black peppercorns, red chili flakes, ginger, white poppy seeds, and black sesame seeds.)
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 3 cups romaine or butter lettuce, chopped
  • 3 cups kale leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Always marinade your chicken. That is a rule to live by. To do this with spices, start by putting your chicken breast in a ziplock bag. Then add about a tablespoon of olive oil and rub on the chicken until it is coated. Repeat this with your spices, and really take the time to rub those spices in. Zip up your bag and place it in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. You will not be disappointed with how much more flavor your chicken will have.
  2. Cook your chicken on a non-stick skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, depending on your stove and pans. Let your chicken rest for 2 minutes  before dicing and place in the fridge to cool.
  3. Take your broccoli and snow peas and put them in a microwavable bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water and put in the microwave to steam. I put a small plate on top of my bowl to ensure the steaming process will happen quicker, but this is up to you. Steam your vegetables for about 2 minutes so they still have a crunch. Drain and store in the fridge to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine lettuce and kale. I used butter lettuce because I like how sweet it is compared to the bitterness of the kale. I highly recommend butter lettuce to those who are not huge lettuce fans. It is softer and has less of a “green” flavor while still having plenty of vitamins. For an added crunch and flavor, I also combined green onions to my salad base. The more greens, the better!
  5. To make a simple homemade dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper, and garlic in a jar or container with a lid. With the lid on, shake the dressing vigorously for 15 seconds. Boom, simple, yet delicious, salad dressing. The acid from the lemon will also give a boost of flavor to the bitter kale. Always balance vegetable flavors for a better dining experience.
  6. Pour about half of your dressing over your salad base and mix well. Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator to use in another recipe. Top your salad with your chilled chicken, broccoli, and snow peas. Serve with an extra lemon half if you want  added flavor.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes:

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