Bri here. It’s been a hot minute since I posted anything on the blog and it feels good to be back! I took a break as I planned my wedding, got married, traveled and started a new job. Of course I’ve been sharing my foodie journeys and other tidbits along the way on my instagram @thenuttypear, but I am so excited to be sharing a new recipe with you.
The change of season is here in Minneapolis, with cool weather and changing leaves. I think fall is a difficult time to stay on track as far as eating healthy and staying motivated to exercise. Let’s be honest. Shorter days, big sweaters and comfort food are all great reasons to let it go a little.
But recipes like this one make eating a healthy weeknight dinner not sad. Yay for happy dinners!
We generally follow a low carb diet for any meals that we plan/cook and eat what we want when we go out to eat or want to have a fun little date night in.
My 2 favorite things about this low carb recipe:
Pretend pasta that is actually good! (Edamame noodles)
Creamy, flavorful pesto (with two secret ingredients, which won’t be a secret once you scroll down 🙂
Edamame Noodles = Low Carb Diet Friendly Pasta Substitute That Doesn’t Suck
Don’t be offended spiralized zucchini, sweet potato and spaghetti squash. It’s me not you. Just kidding. We are not breaking up. But we might be taking a break.
Edamame pasta is noodles made of soybeans. Which means they have TONS of protein! 24g per serving to be exact. I love that there’s a substantial amount of protein in this meal, not only to fill you up but so that you don’t even need to add meat. Perfect for a meatless Monday or vegetarians in general. I used to get it at Costco, but haven’t been able to find it for a while. I was so excited to find it here!
Pesto: secret ingredients
I added two secret ingredients to my traditional pesto that you won’t even notice.
Nonfat plain greek yogurt – makes it creamy and coats the noodles
Spinach – you can’t taste it, it’s already green anyway so why not? I’m a fan of sneaky veggies.
Try this one out guys and please drop a comment and let me know what you think! Enjoy 🙂
- ½ box of edamame pasta (8 oz box) – where to get
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- Optional: Grilled shrimp or chicken
- ½ cup fresh basil
- ½ cup fresh spinach
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping)
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- Mix all the pesto ingredients in the food processor and blend for 30 sec – 1 min. I like to put the garlic at the bottom to make sure it gets minced well.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions (5-10 min total time)
- Turn the broiler setting of your oven on to high and put halved cherry tomatoes + a drizzle of olive oil in a small pan with sides in the oven for about 5 minutes. Be careful, they can burn quickly.
- Toss the edamame pasta with the pesto until well coated. It will look like there’s too much pesto for the pasta, but be generous! It’s best when you use it all.
- Plate the pasta first, then add tomatoes and shrimp/chicken if using. Top with parmesan and fresh herbs if desired.
Fresh pesto has got to be one of the best sauces, especially in the summer. It’s fragrant, flavorful and don’t forget pretty! In the spring, I planted a big box of basil for this very reason. I love picking some fresh basil from my plant and throwing it right in the food processor for a quick batch. Basil is the main ingredient of pesto. It’s a great way to get a significant amount of it in a creative and yummy way.
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Some health benefits of basil/pesto:
-Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
-Can help detoxify the liver
-Provides Vitamin A and magnesium
Pretty powerful stuff!
Add to veggies, pastas, chicken, shrimp, quinoa, eggs….the list goes on! Make a big batch and freeze the extra in ice cube trays or silicone molds for later! Once they’re frozen seal them into zip lock bags for the freezer. Now you have a pre-made sauce for quick weeknight meals. When you’re cooking, throw a cube into the pan. So easy!
I use a mini food processor for sauces and dressings like this. It’s great at blending everything up very finely. If you use a larger blender or food processor, you end up losing some of the ingredients to the big bowl or container. I’ve had my mini food processor for 8 years and it’s got plenty of life left in it!
- Put your basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and toasted pine nuts in the food processor. Blend for about a minute. Add more olive oil if it’s too thick. It should be a little runny and not too pasty.
- A little tip: you do not need to add salt because the parmesan cheese is very salty. I learned that the hard way!
Maybe you’re wondering why you would make your own taco seasoning when you can just buy it in the store? Well the main reason is that the store-bought taco seasonings often include additives and preservatives to give them very long shelf-lives. By making your own, you ensure that you know exactly what’s in it AND you can tailor it to your tastes.
Make your own taco seasoning and store it in a little mason jar or a small sealed container. It doesn’t take much time and then you’ll have it for lots of yummy dishes to come! I always prefer to make my own seasonings, dressings, sauces etc. because it’s a common place for sneaky additives and chemicals to show up in our food. Use this to season your meats for tacos, taco salads and fajitas.
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried cilantro
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Combine ingredients in a mason jar and use as needed!
Yup. That’s Trav. Coming up with the ingredients to a meal is easy for me. But when it comes to the sauce, I need some help from the Sauce Boss. Be warned: He likes a lot of sauce on his food. Like, “What kind of soup are you eating?” Ok that’s a little exaggerated, but you get the point. Typical Bri & Trav dinner scenario: I make a beautiful meal that I’ve perfectly seasoned only to have Trav dump sriracha all over it! He’s learning though 🙂 Me, I like not quite as much sauce on my food.
Nevertheless, dressings and sauces make ALL the difference in the world for your dishes. Even the best ingredients can taste bland without a good sauce or dressing.
This dressing was originally created by Trav for a salad but we have used it for other dishes like the Asian Lettuce Wraps. It adds so much flavor and it’s healthy with minimal sugar. You can also make it without ANY added sugar by using an orange juice that has no added sugar (read the ingredient list on the label) and by using a similar type of sriracha sauce that has no added sugar or a chili paste with no added sugar (Whole Foods has lots of good options, but again read the label).
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon sriracha or similar organic version
- 1 Tbsp orange juice
- A squeeze of lime juice
- Mix all ingredients together and voila! Store in a bottle or mason jar and refrigerate.