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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Lunchbox Salad Recipe

Hello everyone! For those who follow me on Instagram (@wellnessandwelldrinks) you know that I eat dinner at work. Lately, people have been asking me how I do this, especially because I do not have a fridge or microwave (I work at a dance studio if that makes more sense), so I am limited to options. I also do not like to wait to eat until I get home (around 9-9:30pm) because I go to bed early. If I eat right before bed, I tend to get a stomach ache and my body doesn’t get the proper chance to continue to burn calories. So, I try to eat my dinner between 5pm and 6:30pm because that is what is best for me.

What do I bring for dinner? Well, I am a huge fan of kale (as we all probably know by now) so I like to bring a kale salad. For this post, I am going to break down the recipe I most use piece by piece, but I will also offer replacements to create different flavors of salads (thats how I avoid getting bored with it!) Read below for the recipe!

Lunchbox Salad Recipe

This recipe is going to be written a bit differently than my usual recipes. I’m going to go step by step and show you how I build my salad.

  1. Kale. About 2 cups, chopped. Remember to always wash and dry your kale IMG_5411
    before using it. Lately, mine has had dirt still on it, which I don’t want to eat. Not to mention your kale was sitting in a store or the farmer’s market where others possibly touched it or something else did. Wash away all possible impurities or contaminants! I do not like buy prepackaged kale because I don’t typically eat the steams when it’s raw. So, I prefer to cut my own. But please do whatever is best for you! This is my preference, but if you like eating kale your way, do so! You are still eating kale after all!
  2. Basil. About 1/2 cup, chopped. I love fresh herbs. I IMG_5412like to chopped them up and add them to my salad because I think it adds more flavor. This is a great tip for those of you who aren’t kale lovers like I am. It will give you a different flavor and allow you to still eat kale, but with ease. Basil also has great nutritional value as well. It is not just for pizza or pasta! Put your chopped basil in your container with your kale and mix it around a bit!
  3. Avocado. 1 medium, cubed as best as you can! Avocados will always be one of my IMG_5413
    favorite foods. I love how they add healthy fats, add a creamy texture, and make my tastebuds soar from bliss. As a Californian, they are a staple to my life. Dramatic? Maybe a little. Delicious? Absolutely. Try squeezing a bit of lemon or lime juice on top to avoid having brown avocados in your salad. If needed, season your avocado pieces with salt and pepper.
  4. Quinoa. 1/4 cup, fully cooked and cooled. A healthy alternative to rice, and surprisingly a delicious addition to salads. I do not eat too IMG_5416
    many carbs, mainly because I am gluten-free and a majority of gluten-free products are even higher in carbs (not even the healthy kind). However, quinoa offers more than just a health carb option, it also contains protein and makes your salad a bit hardier. Vegetables can be filling on their own, but there is nothing wrong with adding a carb to your salad, especially if it is a meal. Plus, eating quinoa is better than croutons or those yummy, but greasy tortilla crisps.
  5. Chicken. 3/4 cup, chopped and cooled. Or 1 breast. I love chicken breast; it is so img_5417.jpgversatile, low in calories, and has so much protein. I personally do not eat a “full breast”. I take the chicken breast and cut it in half to make 2 thin breasts. I started doing this in college to make my chicken last longer, but also because it cooks so much faster! Less than 5 minutes on each side which is great for my busy lifestyle. My chicken marinated in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper before I cooked it in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. This adds flavor without too much added sodium.
  6. Dressing. I like to make my own dressings, just so I always know what is going inside of my body. Also, store bought dressing a lot of times has added sugars and carbs. For this salad, I mix 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper. Yum.
  7. Pack and enjoy! Don’t forget your ice pack.

Alternative flavor options:

  • Kale, cilantro, avocado, quinoa, and black beans with a salsa verde dressing
  • Kale, parsly, tomato, quinoa, and chicken with a pesto dressing
  • Kale, dill, avocado, quinoa, and chicken with a honey dijon dressing
  • Kale, mint, watermelon, feta cheese, and onion with a balsamic dressing

Kale and Lemon Immune Boosting Soup

IMG_5089.JPGI have a confession...I love soup. I love making it, I love eating it, and I love how many vitamins I can shove into one bowl. My family has been feeling sick on and off and I work with children/families, so I am exposed to a lot of germs. I need as many vitamins as I can get! Sometimes I make enough soup to share and freeze leftovers, but lately I’ve been making a fresh bowl of soup daily. It does not have to be complicated or simmer for a lengthy time to be delicious, especially when it’s a vegan soup! Meat tends to need more time in the pot, but herbs and veggies breakdown a lot easier. I also do not always need complex, flavor-building soup. Sometimes you need something simple, quick, and easy! I like to use as fresh of ingredients as possible, but if you prefer dried herbs or pastes, use what is best for you! Now, let’s talk about the benefits from this recipe!

Kale: this low calorie, non-fat, fiber rich, leafy green helps aid digestion, and helps promote iron absorption (hello vitamins B and C!) It is also a great source of vitamins K,  A, B1, B2, B3, B6,  and E. All the nutrients, and a great alternative to spinach or collard greens. If you are an avid reader on my blog, you know that I eat around 3-4 cups of kale a day, so I am personally a huge fan.

Garlic/Onions: Ah, the Allium family. Garlic, shallots, chives, leeks, onions..oh my! I love the flavors of all alliums, but garlic and onions are by far used most in my daily life. They help with cold and flu relief, as well as provide great anti-inflammatory benefits due to the vitamin C and manganese content. While you can get heartburn from both of these ingredients (my grandmother could not stand garlic), when eaten in moderation, you should be okay. I typically do not have side effects, so I eat a lot of garlic! Again, modify for yourself.

Ginger: I’ve been a fan of ginger for quite sometime now. I love ginger tea, ginger chews, and fresh ginger in soup. Ginger is typically known for its relation to relieving stomach pain. Whether it be motion sickness, nausea, morning sickness, or just an upset stomach, ginger is a great option to try! It is also known to help relieve cold and flu symptoms, as well as help reduce inflammation.

Lemon: Fresh lemon juice has so many great benefits. Again, a great source of vitamin C (do you see the theme here?), but lemon juice also promotes weight loss, aids digestion, and can help promote hydration. When making soup, add your lemon juice in when serving. Just like with all vegetables and fruit, it is best to consume them in the rawest form possible (if safe) so you can really get the nutrients than can be cooked out.

Kale and Lemon Immune Boosting Soup Recipe

I made a single serving for this soup, so feel free to double, triple, or make as much as you want! It’s easy to digest, low calorie, non-fat, vegan, gluten-free, and filled with immune boosting goodness!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup ginger, chopped in large pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Pour water into a medium sauce pan. Add onions, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil and continue to let it boil for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium low for 10-15 minutes covered.
  2. Remove ginger if you do not want to eat it in your soup. Personally, I do remove it at this point, but if you want to consume the pieces, go for it! Remember to remove the skin before cooking if eating.
  3. Add your kale. Let the kale cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour your soup into a bowl. Pour lemon juice into the soup and give it a stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy and try to keep the germs away!

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!