Kale & Cashew Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Pesto is one of my absolute favourite flavours! Unfortunately not many grocery stores carry already made "cheese-less" pesto... so I've created a deliciously simple recipe that uses common kitchen food items, and maximizes nutritional health benefits! One of which, is the concept of food synergy. Researchers found that pairing tomato with a healthy fat such as avocado, increases the absorption of the tomato's antioxidants! Not to mention the added benefit of the prolonged full feeling you get from this healthy green fruit! If you prefer a raw vegan diet, this dish can easily be modified to meet your needs; just skip step 3 and keep those tomatoes off the burner!

        Prep Time: ~ 10 min             Cook Time: ~5 min             Total Time: ~ 15 min

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 Zucchinis (use 3 zucchinis if serving 2 people)
  • 1/2 Cup Avocado (~ 1 medium-large avocado)
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Cashews 
  • 1/4 Cup Grape seed Oil (Olive oil works well as a substitute) 
  • 1 Cup Kale (I used baby kale because it comes without thick stems)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Lime Squeezed
  • ~10 Halved Cherry Tomatoes

Directions:

Step 1: Spiralize zucchinis into noodles, breaking strands into about 20-30 cm long.

Step 2: Combine avocado, cashews, oil, and kale, in food processor and pulse until mixed. Add basil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lime juice, and blend on high until smooth. Try saving your avocado pits for a high nutrient addition to smoothies (just dehydrate, slice, and grind up into a powder)!

Step 3: Lightly grease your pan, and set on medium heat. Add zucchini noodles, and let cook for 5 minutes. These noodles will hold quite a bit of moisture, so it's important not to add too much oil when greasing the pan. Also be careful not to overcook your noodles, or they will become too soft/mushy.

Step 4: Strain any excess water from your pan, and empty noodles into a mixing bowl. Set tomatoes in your pan on medium to low heat while saucing the noodles. If using 3 zucchinis, add in all your pesto. If using 2 zucchinis, add in ~ 1/2 a cup of pesto (you should have ~1/3 cup leftover). Mix pesto in to fully coat noodles. Empty your hot cherry tomatoes into your pasta and enjoy!

Note: Leftover pesto can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days (the avocado may cause the pesto to brown but it is still safe to eat). Try using your excess pesto to stuff mushrooms or spread on wraps or sandwiches!

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Vegan Mac & Cheese

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Mac & cheese is definitely a crowd pleaser, and this vegan friendly version does not fall short! A common ingredient in vegan cheese sauce is nutritional yeast, which can be found in most bulk food stores. Fortified nutritional yeast is a great source of B Vitamins, a necessary supplement for vegan diets. Nutritional yeast is also considered a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids, which is crucial when balancing vegan protein sources. In addition to providing many of the same nutrients we get from animal sources, nutritional yeast is also very high in fiber! Look for more recipes using this magical meat alternative - I like to season veggies, top spaghetti, or sprinkle over popcorn for added flavour and nutrients.

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Prep Time: ~ 5 min             Cook Time: ~10 min             Total Time: ~ 15 min

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1/8 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast (I use flaked)
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 Heads Broccoli (~2 Cups)
  • 2 Cups Shell Noodles

Directions:

Step 1: Melt coconut oil in a small sauce pan/pot, on medium high heat, and whisk in flour. Reduce to medium low heat and stir in almond milk and nutritional yeast (be sure to reduce heat before adding almond milk, or contents may burn). Stir in basil, paprika, salt, and pepper, and let simmer on low.

Step 2: In a medium sized pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Chop broccoli into small florets (I recommend peeling and chopping stems as well to cut down on waste) and let steam until soft. Remove florets from pot and use the remaining water to cook pasta noodles.

Step 3: Strain noodles and empty back into your pot. Add broccoli florets, and pour cheese sauce into pot, stirring until fully coated.

There you have it! A perfect alternative to your classic favourite - Mac & Cheese!

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