lemon walnut pesto pasta

***Repost…. This is an old post, but I still make this recipe regularly (including last night!) except use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan since I actively try to avoid dairy. ***

The first thing that many people think of when they think of a gluten free diet is all of the things they can’t eat, instead of all the wonderful things still left for them. Not to mention that companies are becoming increasingly aware of the niche out there for selling gluten free products. Which really, is fantastic for anyone with Celiac or person who eliminates gluten (or anything else for that matter) for any other reason. It means choices! Options! Variety! We’re not left eating or drinking one gross alternative because it’s all that’s out there. We are still left with choices.

One of the first things I replaced with a gluten free variety in my pantry was pasta. I enjoy pasta immensely,  find it to be incredibly versatile and the base for so many dishes.  While in many dishes pasta can be substituted for something like spaghetti squash , or vermicelli noodles are a perfectly delicious substitute in stir fry style dishes, sometimes a girl just wants some regular, old fashioned pasta. I’ve tried a variety of gluten free pastas already – everything from vegetable to soy noodles, but my favorite is brown rice noodles. I find white rice ones cook  too mushy and remind me of white bread the way they kind of disintegrate in my mouth – and that’s freakin’ nasty.  I’ve tried a couple different varieties of the brown rice pasta, but my favorite so far is one by a brand called Rizopia. I first saw it at Nutters, but later found it in the natural food section at Superstore. AND it was still under $3/bag which is pretty comparable to regular wheat pasta. Win-win. Catelli has a great gluten-free line also that tastes and cooks like normal pasta.

Anyways.. I stumbled upon a recipe and I can’t even remember where I found it, but it’s pretty basic. It’s a Walnut Pesto Pasta and I added Edamame for some extra protein, fiber and deliciousness.

Side note: my spell check wants to keep correcting edamame to enema. Uh, not quite the same thing!

Walnut Pesto Pasta..with Edamame

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 2 full sized meals, or 4 side dishes

As usual, increase flavors you like or eliminate ones you don’t

What You Need:

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh basil or about 1/3 cup of dried (start little, add more as you go!)
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • parmesan cheese (quick fact: parmesan is edible for people with lactose intolerances because as cheese ages it loses its lactose. Also edible? Old cheddar.)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 cup of edamame, pre-cooked (again, optional)
  • 2 servings of your pasta of choice

How You Do It:

  1. In a pot boil your pasta
  2. In a pan heat the oil
  3. Toss in the garlic cloves. When your kitchen starts to smell delicious add the basil, salt and parsley (leaving a bit of basil and parsley for toppings if you wish!)
  4. Mix all that goodness up for a couple of minutes
  5. Pour in the lemon juice
  6. Toss in the walnuts and edamame
  7. Mix it all up for about 5 minutes
  8. Combine the pasta and sauce and mix it all around
  9. Dish it out
  10. sprinkle with parmesan, basil and parsley
  11. Eat!

The wonderful thing about something like this is that it can easily be adapted to a non gluten free, vegetarian diet and some extra veggies or whole grain pasta could be swapped in like lickity split. Either way, the flavors are delicious.  AND I’ve made it several times swapping out the spaghetti for shells or corkscrews and ate it cold as a pasta salad.

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we’re all just the hungry, hungry caterpillar

Have you read the children’s book, the hungry, hungry caterpillar? It goes like this: the little caterpillar is born, and days 1-5 he eats all his fruits and veggies.  Day 6 he binges. The little caterpillar eats all the cake, all the sausage (who wrote this book?), pie, ice cream…you name it. But then day 7 rolls around and he eats a nice, big, green leaf.

And this, my friends, is us all. Well, until the end of day 6 anyways. What happens on day 7 is where the story changes from person to person; do you proceed in your ice cream and pie eating, or do you pick up and continue with your nice, big, green leaf?

We live in a constant state of cycles, our bodies are continuously detoxing and retoxing, the earth spins, the seasons change. Many people, myself included, find so do their eating habits. While this might appear to be ‘wrong’ or make us uncomfortable to admit, I want to throw it out there and just say nope! It’s healthy, it’s normal, you’re perfectly okay.

Food is meant to nourish us, support our bodies so we can achieve all our kickass, world domination goals. But we are also emotional eaters. We eat to celebrate, we eat when we are happy or when we are feeling down. Sometimes our emotional eating is a big old’ salad after a kickass workout, and sometimes it’s a bowl bucket of lime sorbet after a terrible day.  We’ve been taught that this is somehow wrong, that we have no willpower or self-control; that all it takes is some internal strength.

But when we look at our choices and our decisions as a temporary thing, with temporary consequences when the following choice or decision can change the course… it no longer becomes anything other than day 6. Creating a healthy relationship with food means allowing for those day sixes; and allowing for the unhealthy food that serves no purpose but to emotionally make us feel better in that moment.

Moving on past day 6, to the nice, big, green leaf is the kicker though, and not letting ourselves toss in the towel. When we see our unhealthy choice as one of many and not as the choice that ended all choices we let go of that little nagging voice telling us we need to get it together; that we need to regain control. It simple becomes another day in our food cycle.

A quick google search will pull up literally thousands of suggestions and ‘best’ diets to achieve your health or physical appearance goals, but what I have learned through trial and error and the many conversations I’ve had with people is that it’s not that simple. We have been taught we are eating good or eating bad, that this food is ‘good’ and that food is ‘bad’. To make matters worse the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods are continuously changing!

In comes my hungry, hungry caterpillar food philosophy. It’s not new, and it’s not even original, but any way you look at it, it makes the most sense. I believe it was Michael Pollan that originally said something similar, but I follow the simple rule to eat whole foods, mostly plants. 

After scouring through literally hundreds of books and websites reading about different diets and food philosophies out there, one day I thought “holy bananas. No wonder everyone is confused.” So, then I switched gears to read about the healthiest people in the world and the diets they consume. I realized in all my reading one thing remained consistent, plants.  No one could argue the benefits of plant based foods. Every diet, every group of people, every health advocate across the world emphasized the same thing: plants.

Then it dawned on me, I don’t have to have a list of foods I can eat, or not eat. Or a list of foods I tell people they can eat or not eat (unless allergies come in to play!). Let’s just act like the not so little caterpillar and focus on all the earth grown, plants the world has to offer and concern ourselves less with all the other foods. When we do that, we naturally eat less of the unhealthy stuff and in the process, can keep our sanity.