In my last post Why Carbs are Your Friend and How to Determine your Ideal Intake, I explained that often carb experimentation is key in determining your ideal intake by playing around with your carb consumption to determine the amount that you feel your best on. Your ideal intake could be different on a daily basis depending on your level of activity or energy expenditure that day. If you had a really intense workout, you may want more carbs or if you feel that you had a pretty sedentary day, you may need less.
But is turning summer squash into fettuccine a realistic alternative for those who crave pasta but are carb-averse? I’m an advocate for properly fuelling with the right amount of carbs but if we don’t need extra carbs in our day, the swap is an inarguable health upgrade. Luckily, we eat with our eyes and zucchini noodles absolutely look like pasta!
After a weekend full of less-than-stellar health choices or even on carb-ed out days (they happen to the best of us!), opting for a delicious serving of zucchini noodle pesto “pasta” is exactly what the nutritionist calls for. Zucchini noodles are so nutritious. They are filled with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory; the combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients in summer squash is a very logical nutrient combination for providing anti-cancer benefits.
The list of nutrients in summer squash related to healthy blood sugar regulation is a long one. Metabolism of sugar in the body requires ample presence of many B vitamins, and most of these B vitamins are found in summer squash including folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline. Also important in blood sugar metabolism are the minerals zinc and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, and all of these nutrients are contained in zucchini.
Zucchinis also do wonders for your digestion. Zucchinis are both filling and hydrating, encourages healthy digestion and detoxifies the body. Due to its high fiber content, zucchini has a cleansing effect on our digestive tract, especially the intestines. It acts as a mild laxative, cleaning the walls of the intestines and preventing carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon.
For those of you who have never tried zucchini noodles, aka zoodles, they are made using a spiralizer – the machine responsible for uniformly slicing zucchinis (and other veggies such as cucumber, potatoes, or beets into thin bands). You could just as easily use a carrot peeler or mandolin to create flat, thin zucchini strips.
Tossing zucchini noodles with a homemade nutritious sauce will only increase the benefits. I often pair zucchini noodles with pad thai or spaghetti sauce. My favourite homemade sauce to pair with the zucchini noodles is basil pesto. All of the ingredients including lemon, basil, olive oil and hemp hearts are so nourishing and detoxifying. The combination of ingredients helps alkalize your body, convert toxins into water-soluble form, and stimulate the liver.
Serves 2-3 people
- 2 medium sized zucchinis (if using a spiralizer, the thicker the better)
- ¼ cup hemp hearts (walnuts, pine nuts or almonds)
- 1/3 cup of olive oil or 1/6 cup of olive oil, 1/6 cup of water (depending on how oily you like it)
- 1 bunch of basil
- juice of ½ a lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. honey
How to Make
- To make the pesto, blend the hemp hearts, olive oil, basil, lemon, honey, salt and pepper in a blender or cuisinart until well blended. If more liquid is needed, add a tablespoon of water and blend until creamy.
- Make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer or a carrot peeler
- Add the pesto to the noodles until well combined.
- Top with protein of your choice to make it a balanced meal