Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope you had a relaxing weekend (Super Bowl and all). I was in the Bay Area over the weekend, celebrating a friend’s baby shower, getting work done, and spending quality time with my parents. Being at home is always so rejuvenating and relaxing. And, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My parents value movement, good food, and self-care as much as I do. For that matter, these are integral pillars in their busy, busy lives.
I recently realized that every time I go back to California, my parents and I land on the discussion of food. We love food. Always have. Growing up, we ate everything (including plenty of Mexican, Asian, Indian, and Italian cuisine). My mom cooked often, and food was always around. It’s no surprise that my mom ended up becoming a restauranteur! Anyway, during our school years, my dad loved packing lunch for us — my siblings and I could always count on a sandwich, crackers, fruit, and a cookie or two. I’m very lucky that my parents have always been able to keep our fridge and pantry stocked. And, for that matter, with plenty of nutrient-dense options.
Ever since I graduated from IIN, many of our food-related conversations have shifted. The quality of what we’re putting in our bodies now has a seat at the table. Fascinated by wholesome, sustainable food, my parents are like sponges. They love learning about ways to improve their eating habits to keep them healthy, energized, and balanced. They understand that food is directly correlated to our health. Inevitably, that makes me very happy.
I’ve learned a lot about cooking from them. Now, though, I try and lead by example. I cook in a flexible manner that values pleasure, simplicity, and nutrition. I aim for wild-caught fish, pasture-raised / grass-finished protein, and supporting local farmers. However, here’s the thing:
I don’t choose pasture-raised / wild-caught animal protein and organic fruits and veggies because I feel morally superior by doing so. It’s not about that. My food choices are rooted in prioritizing my health (and my family’s health). Avoiding added pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. is a no-brainer. I also care about the sustainability of our planet and the livelihood of our farmers.
That said, you will find me buying chips, crackers, cereal, nut butters, and other packaged things. In my case, it’s not practical to make these things homemade. I don’t have the time…nor the desire. When it comes to buying packaged items, though, I honor ingredients. I stand behind the notion that if you can’t understand an ingredient on a label, why put it in (or on) your body? There are too many chemicals, genetically modified ingredients, sugar substitutes, and corn derivatives out there. Again, simplicity is key.
However, there are plenty of “convenient” things I love to make homemade — smoothies, cookies, muffins, sauces, and dips. I enjoy the ability to get creative, add extra omega-3s and omega-6s when I want, and minimize ingredients that will spike my blood sugar levels like crazy. If you’re new around here, I have PCOS, high fasting glucose levels, and hypothyroidism. Food is one of the ways I’m healing my body.
Enter: green pea pesto. Packed with plenty of greens, fiber, and healthy fats, this sauce is incredibly versatile and absolutely delicious. I made it vegan, but you easily swap the nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese. I make this dairy-free simply because I prefer the taste of nutritional yeast in pesto! My husband and I like to put it on pasta, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, sandwiches, crackers, eggs, and fish.
Spaghetti Squash and Green Pea Pesto Bowls
- 1 cup organic fresh basil
- 1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt to taste
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 lb ground lamb (or turkey, beef, or vegan meat substitute)
- 1 bushel organic curly kale
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1/2 tbsp chili flakes (optional)
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 425F. Prick your spaghetti squash (carefully) 5-10 times with a sharp knife or fork. Place the spaghetti squash on a middle rack and bake — whole —for approximately 45 minutes. Once it starts to brown on the outside and you can easily stick a knife through it, it's done. Pull it out and let it cool.
- While the spaghetti squash is baking, make the pesto. In a food processor, whirl together all of the ingredients for the pesto. You may need to scrape down the edges a few times. If it's too thick for your liking, add more olive oil or room-temp water. Set aside.
- Once the spaghetti squash is out of the oven, ground your meat. In a large pan, pour in your olive oil and chopped yellow onion. Sauté until translucent. Then, add in your minced garlic. Stir until combined.
- Add your ground lamb to the pan. Using a spatula, dice the meat into bite-sized pieces and cook all of the way through. Then, add in your chili flakes.
- De-stem your kale and tear it into small pieces. Add the kale to the pan and stir it around until it wilts.
- Carefully slice open your spaghetti squash and remove the seeds with a spoon. Using a fork, scrape the insides and plate a portion of the spaghetti squash. Top the spaghetti squash with a few spoonfuls of the meat, kale, and pesto. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese. Dig in!