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

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