Moving on... One of the easiest ways to decrease your refined carbohydrate intake is to replace your pasta with vegetable noodles. I love making traditional Italian dishes from vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, etc. All you need is a spiralizer! I highly recommend investing in one since they are cheap and save you so much time rather than thinly slicing the vegetables by hand... But that is an option if you are in a bind. The lighter taste of the vegetables allows the flavors of the sauce to really shine without the heavy, bloated, weighed-down feeling you get after eating a big bowl of pasta. Imagine an elephant on a tight rope... Yeah, that's what I feel like after eating pasta. And that's probably what I look like, too. Mmm mmm mmm! Just kidding. At least my husband knows better than to comment on it, if I do. Guess I should count my blessings, there!
PS - If you have extra pesto sauce, you can use it as dipping sauce for appetizers. Otherwise, the pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week for a future meal.
(makes 2 servings, 10 min prep, 15 min cook)
Ingredients: 6 zucchini (or any squash you like), 1 pound (about 15) large shrimp, 2/3 cup fresh basil, 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 2 tablespoons cashews, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 3/4 teaspoon crushed garlic, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
- Heat a large pot of water on high. Peel and slice 6 zucchini (or your favorite squash) into noodles using a spiralizer or by hand. Place the noodles into the pot and let cook for 5-8 minutes before plating. Be sure not to overcook the noodles or you won't be able to toss them with the pesto sauce.
- While the noodles are cooking, heat 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic and allow to sweat then add 1 pound of large shrimp to cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and the remaining juice from the 1/2 lemon (minus the 1/4 teaspoon for the pesto).
- Plate the noodles and shrimp and top with the pesto sauce.
- Combine 2/3 cup fresh basil, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, and 2 tablespoons cashews in a food processor until smooth. Add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic then process again until smooth and set aside.
Extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and basil are all key ingredients in an anti-inflammatory diet. Not only have they long been revered for their protective effects against heart disease, but also one of the key polyphenols in olive oil, hydroxytyrosol, helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules, also known as "free radicals". Garlic's numerous beneficial cardiovascular effects are due to its sulfur, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and manganese content. Interestingly enough, garlic is also being studied for its possible positive effects on the manner in which the body responds to overgrowth of the bacterium H. Pylori in the stomach. Both garlic and basil are well known for their antibacterial properties.