Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce Plus a Bonus Vegan Alfredo Sauce Recipe

spaghetti with marinara (1)

What is a life without pasta, am I right? It would be a sad thing indeed. And a bowl of pasta with a good marinara sauce is such a simple and happy food. The only downside? I personally gain five pounds when I so much as see the word pasta on a menu. Others of you I know have issues with gluten, or rightfully hate the cardboard taste of whole wheat pasta. Yes, it’s a cruel, cruel world we live in. So what is a person to do who dreams of eating pasta everyday while proudly squeezing into a tiny bikini? The answer is Zoodles. Zucchini noodles that is.

I was skeptical of zucchini noodles at first because I don’t particularly like the taste of cooked zucchini, (it tastes like fishy rotten garbage to me.) I also am not a huge fan of spaghetti squash, (soggy) and all those lovely pastas made with grain alternatives like quinoa and brown rice still have that high-carb weight gain effect on me as regular pasta. But then I got a spiralizer and discovered zucchini anew! This tool costs like $13 and works great on zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, etc to make beautiful angel hair-like tendrils. I mean, come on, here is one for $8, just get one. They are the most fun kitchen tool ever! (By the way, I have no affiliation to any brand, I just did a quick google search and found this one, buy any spiralizer you like!)

I have been making zoodles almost every single day for lunch and just tossing them in different kinds of sauces to change it up. (If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will find a ‘Category’ drop down menu. Select the category of “Sauces, Dressings, and Marinades” and you will find 20 other sauce recipes!) Zucchinis are the perfect weight-loss food. They have a high water content and only 33 calories each, plus tons of vitamin C. Eating a big bowl of zucchini noodles is a great way to feel full and satisfied while burning fat. I am definitely seeing the difference on the scale.

There are two ways you can eat zoodles- raw or cooked. Because I live in the 100 degree weather of Los Angeles and I love raw food, I tend to just eat them raw. They have a little crunch and the high content of water makes me feel full. However, you can also heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and toss them with tongs till they are hot and softened. This is where they REALLY take on the roll of pasta as the texture transforms in the pan

The same thing goes for my marinara sauce. This sauce is geared toward those who strive to eat a largely raw food diet, because we all know how good for you raw veggies are! However, this sauce heats up beautifully and works great on pizza or in lasagna too.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, zucchini noodles and marinara? Sounds boring. So you want to take it to the next level? You really wanna go for that red, white, and green, monster bowl of Italian deliciousness?  Try adding some vegan alfredo and pesto sauce to  your marinara zoodles for an incredibly creamy and satisfying meal.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara 

Makes 2 servings

6 medium zucchinis, peeled and spiralized

Marinara:

makes about 1.5 cups

6 roma tomatoes, with tough stem ends removed

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and then drained

6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

1 sprig each of parsley, basil, and oregano

1 medjool date, pitted

After spiralizing the zucchinis, sprinkle a little salt on them and set them aside in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. They release a lot of water, which can dilute the sauce, so I like to let them drain for a bit, and right before serving a give them a little squeeze to release the moisture.

Combine all the marinara ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. So easy!

Ready to take it to the next level?

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

makes a little over 1.5 cups

1 cups raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in a bowl of water to soften. Rinsed and drained

1 tbs nutritional yeast

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4-1/2 tsp salt depending on your preference

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tbs olive oil

a pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup water

optional: 1 clove garlic

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth.  If it’s not smooth enough, add another tablespoon or two of water until you get a perfectly smooth consistency.

And finally, the pesto recipe can be found right here!

Enjoy!

Italian flag pasta

zucchini pasta

Golden Gazpacho

IMG_5466

Welp, I meant to do a daily post chronicling my raw cleanse but I got a new job with very long hours and got off track! Oh well, sometimes life gets in the way. I often surround myself with perfectionists but am not one myself. Very often I can’t hep but stop and think how grateful I am to NOT be one. What a waste of time and anguish! I like my imperfections and find that I tend to be a much happier person on average than my perfectionist friends, although that might be because I’m driving them crazy with my ways of doing things, haha.

So I did keep up my cleanse for a total of 3 days, not too shabby I guess. And as a general rule going forward, I like to subscribe to the ‘raw ’til 4pm’ concept. Not that I particularly follow the fruit centered, high carb, low fat principle, but I do like the simple concept of eating 2 raw meals a day.

We had a lovely taco party last night for my family, we made Cuban black beans, guacamole, and all the usual fixings, and I made this Golden Gazpacho as an appetizer. We also set up a huge screen and projector in our backyard and watched movies. We have spent the last month trying to beatify our backyard and turn it into an awesome wonderland. In addition to the 103″ ‘swim-up’ movie theatre,  we turned our once-grass dirt patch into a container vegetable garden, complete with string lights and a fire pit. We planted herbs, corn, watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, eggplant, onions and lettuces! We also installed a drip system so we use much less water than normal watering methods. I can’t wait till something produces a crop so I can make some fancy homegrown recipes to share with you.

I have never actually had gazpacho before, the idea of cold soup did not interest me, but as I was cooking in the hot kitchen yesterday it started to sound like a pretty good idea. The sweeter the corn you can find, the better.

Golden Gazpacho

Makes 8 servings

3 ears of corn + 1 for garnish

2 gigantic heirloom yellow tomatoes

1 cucumber, peeled

1 serrano pepper, deseeded

1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded

3 tbs coconut sugar or raw brown sugar

1 tbs salt or to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 yellow onion

10 cloves of garlic

black pepper to taste

1/2 tsp paprika

1 avocado, diced for garnish

1 bunch chives, diced for garnish

 

Combine everything but the garnish items in a high speed blender and blend until smooth- this took mine 5-10 minutes, a pretty long time!

Taste and adjust seasoning as you see fit.

Store in a big bowl in the fridge for about an hour so it chills and the flavors mingle.

To serve, ladle into individual bowls and garnish with raw corn kernals, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

IMG_5451

sorry it’s blurry, but here’s our new outdoor movie theater!

here is our veggie patch, all the boxes built by my hand husband! top left is the before picture, with my brother and husband dutifully getting the dirt patch and boxes ready. top right and bottom are after!

here is our veggie patch, all the boxes built by my handy husband! top left is the before picture, with my brother and husband dutifully getting the dirt patch and boxes ready. top right and bottom are after!

IMG_5471

Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus and a Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

raw hummus

Day 2 of my raw food cleanse and I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept in till noon (which felt fantastic, thank you!) so I skipped breakfast and went straight for lunch. First up I knew I had promised a fresh made hummus recipe yesterday, and then I thought a nice sandwich would be just the thing to go with it. How do you get a sandwich on a high raw diet? I found these amazing raw wraps at Whole Foods, made from flax, apple, and zucchini, they taste like sweet whole wheat tortillas. However if you can’t find something like this, big swiss chard leaves make the perfect wrap too.

The key to raw hummus is switching the chickpeas out for summer squash. This is great for those who don’t easily digest legumes and it also drastically reduces the calorie content. The best part is you really wouldn’t know it isn’t a chickpea-based hummus unless you were told. I love how it has a looser texture too due to the moisture in the squash, making it easier to use as a dip– no broken off chips!

The Mediterranean Avocado Wrap below looks…’too healthy to taste good’…I am aware. But, it really was a superb combo of flavors! The flatbread I used had a lot of sweetness to it, so if you are going with the chard leaves, I recommend adding a diced up date to balance the acidic and savory flavors.

Here is my detox meal plan for day 2:

Breakfast: skipped, but had some lemon water first thing

Lunch: A Mediterranean Avocado Wrap with extra sprouts

Snack: 2 cups red grapes

Dinner: A Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl without the quinoa, and add some pumpkin seeds

After dinner: 2 scoops of sun warrior protein with almond milk, (it’s like chocolate milk) 🙂

For a workout, I’ll just do some upper body weights because my legs are killing me from yesterday’s run. I like to do interval sprints when I run so it’s not just a long monotonous slog, and it leads to very sore muscles!

Ok, back to the food, here is the hummus recipe and sandwich/wrap recipe:

Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus

makes about 1.5 cups

2 summer squash (either yellow crookneck squash or zucchini)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tbs tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

a big pinch each of coriander, cayenne, and cumin

salt to taste

a dash of Paprika, cold pressed olive oil, and 1 sprig of parsley for garnish

Peel the squash and chop into chunks, removing the stem. Combine everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Taste and see if you want to add more spices, I like a lot of cayenne and coriander, but just that initial sprinkle of cumin is enough for me.

Sprinkle the top with paprika, drizzle with the oil, and add some fresh chopped parsley on top.

Now for the wrap!

unwrapped

Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

Serves 1

1 WrawP flatbread or several chard leaves, rinsed

4 tbs Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus (as above)

1/2 avocado

1 handful of lettuce greens

3 slices of portobello mushroom, marinated for at least an hour or overnight in a small amount of balsamic and olive oil

5 green olives, pitted and slivered

5 cherry tomatoes, slivered

a small handful of sprouts, I used alfalfa

Sriracha for drizzling, if desired

Lay your flatbread or chard leaves out. If using chard, remove the tough ribs and lay the leaves slightly overlapping until you have roughly the area of a burrito tortilla.

Starting about an inch in from one side, spread the hummus over 3/4  of the surface.

Lay the rest of the ingredients out in little vertical rows, very close together. Then drizzle with sriracha.

Gently start rolling the bread/leaves in from one side to the other, tucking the ends in as you go like you would a burrito. The hummus acts like glue, so you might want to dap some on at the end to hold it together.

Gently cut it in half with a super sharp knife if desired.

mediterranean avocado wrap

 

 

hummus

Raw Lasagna

rawsagna

A couple times a year I get the urge to do some sort of bodily reset. Whether I’ve been slacking off on workouts or eating too much processed food, a good cleanse helps to get your habits and your palate back on track. Instead of doing something extreme like a 5 day juice cleanse, (which leaves you starving, cranky, and likely to stuff your face when it’s over) I like to do a week or two on a high raw diet. I eliminate everything packaged, cooked, processed, or loaded with sugar, grains, or fat. Instead, I eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and yes, some cold pressed juice too. I do have 1 or 2 liquid meals a day, to give my digestive system a break and I try to drink a ton of water as well (about 75 ounces.) But unlike a juice cleanse, this allows me to ‘detox’, while still having energy to work and exercise. It’s a great boost to the immune system with all those raw vitamins and enzymes. It also helps you really appreciate whole, fresh food again, especially if you’ve been eating a lot of junk!

So for example, here is what I had today:

Breakfast: A tall glass of lemon water, a big green juice with some watermelon slices and grapes on the side.

Lunch: This fantastic ‘Rawsagna’.

Snack: Some cut up vegetables and raw hummus (recipe coming soon!)

Dinner: A big protein shake.

Dessert: A whole fruit popsicle for dessert.

This was all in all about 1200 calories, so I don’t feel deprived or starving, and I know my body is thanking me! I had plenty of energy for a 3 mile run and some chores.

Even if you don’t want to do a ‘high raw’ cleanse for a week, it’s a really good idea to make at least one meal a day from raw foods. This is quite easy to do with a smoothie for breakfast or a big salad for lunch, and I find it especially easy to do in the summertime when turning on the oven sounds like the worst idea ever.

All this week I will be posting raw recipes in case you want to join me in this detox andventure. It seems like it would get really old after a while, but you’d be surprised just how much you can do with wholesome raw food! This Rawsagna has been on my list to make for a couple years now, and it is even better tasting than I thought it would be. I got two thumbs up from the non-raw/non-vegans who tried it too!

It’s easy and surprisingly quick to put together!

Raw Lasagna

Makes 2 large servings.

1 big zucchini, peeled

1 portobello mushroom cap, thinly sliced

2 tbs cold pressed olive oil

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 big beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced

1 bunch basil

for the sauce:

2 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 big beefsteak tomato, diced (or about 6 plum tomatoes)

1 sprig each of thyme, oregano, and parsley

1/2 medjool date

1 green onion, white parts removed, greens roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic

salt and pepper

for the cashew ricotta:

1.5 cups cashews, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 tb nutritional yeast

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 medjool dates

1 pinch of nutmeg

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

Start by cutting about an inch off of each end of the zucchini, (one end being the tough stem) this way you will get nice rectangular slices. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Try to slice as thinly as possible, you want to get at least nine slices out of one big zucchini. Lay the slices on a paper towel to drain as you go, they release a lot of moisture.

Marinate the sliced mushroom with the oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Set the bowl out in a sunny spot so that the mushrooms can ‘super charge’. (They will absorb a large amount of vitamin D this way, just like us. Cool huh?)

Next put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Then do the same for the cashew ricotta mixture: blend until smooth and set aside.

Now comes time for the assembly: Start by laying three zucchini slices on a plate, overlapping just slightly. Take a couple spoonfuls of tomato sauce and spread it over the slices. Add a few slices of tomato and then some basil leaves. Then layer on some sliced mushroom and finish with some big dollops of cashew ricotta, smoothed out over the mushrooms. Add another layer of 3 zucchini slices, in the opposite direction as the first layer. Then repeat the same steps: tomato sauce, tomato slices, basil leaves, mushroom slices, cashew ricotta, and one last layer of zucchini slices. Top those with a little more tomato sauce and ricotta cheese and voila! Lunch is ready.

If you have any of the ricotta and tomato sauce left over, you can combine them to make a delicious pink cream sauce to use for something else. For example, you can spiralize another zucchini and have a delicious angel hair pasta with tomato cream sauce.

This Rawsagna is so filling, I couldn’t even finish a whole piece! I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂

Can’t fathom the idea of a raw lasagna? Try this traditional roasted vegetable lasagna recipe instead.

raw lasagna with mushrooms

raw lasagna