Pasta is a favorite food enjoyed all over the world, and it’s something that you may eat from time to time as well. The great thing about it is that you can create endless varieties to suit whatever mood you’re in. However, there’s one problem with pasta — it’s made from grains.
As you know, I don’t recommend eating grains because they contain gluten, a protein composed of glutenin and gliadin molecules. When these two molecules mix together with water, an elastic bond is formed. The resulting compound prevents you from absorbing nutrients from the other ingredients in your meals properly, which can lead to malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies.
So, how can you enjoy pasta without the gluten? Simple: Use zucchini for the noodles, which is high in fiber and various nutrients.
I’ve featured several zucchini pasta recipes before, but this version, created by Pete Evans, combines it with a rich tomato sauce made from wholesome ingredients such as fresh tomatoes, various herbs and spices. This healthy, easy-to-prepare dish can be a staple of your diet if you enjoy pasta regularly.
- 6 to 10 semi-dried tomatoes
- 2 organic tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 red capsicum, roughly chopped
- 6 to 10 green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 cup of organic Swiss brown mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 large handful of organic basil leaves, torn
- 1 tsp. of finely chopped organic rosemary leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small red chili, sliced (optional)
- A squeeze of organic lemon juice
- 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 4 organic zucchinis
- 1 Tbsp. of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large handful of organic baby spinach leaves
- Toasted pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, to serve
- Place the semi-dried tomatoes in a food processor, along with the fresh tomatoes, capsicum, olives, mushrooms, basil, rosemary, garlic, chili (if using) and lemon juice. Pulse the ingredients until combined, but still chunky. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then set aside for five to 10 minutes to marinate.
- To make the zucchini noodles, thinly slice the zucchinis using a mandolin slicer or a vegetable peeler. Toss the noodles with the remaining oil, the parsley and some of the pepper, and set aside to marinate for five minutes at room temperature.
- To serve, combine the noodles with the chunky tomato sauce and baby spinach leaves, then spread the pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds over the meal.
Serves: 4 persons
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Zucchini Is a Great Substitute for Flour-Based Pasta Noodles
The great thing about zucchini is its versatility. You can use it in different dishes such as salads and soups, or even make zucchini fries for an appetizer. In this recipe, however, zucchini takes center stage as a healthy alternative to pasta noodles.
Compared to noodles made from flour, zucchini is loaded with various nutrients, most notably soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help slow down digestion, which helps you feel full longer, making it an effective tool for weight control. Insoluble fiber on the other hand, helps digested food move quicker through your intestines, helping regulate bowel elimination. Be sure to eat the skin, because this is where most of its fiber is located.
In addition, zucchini is loaded with various antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein. These two compounds work together to help promote eye health. The drawback is that your body cannot produce zeaxanthin and lutein on its own, so you need to get them through your diet. Thus, if you want to maintain your healthy vision, you should consume zucchini regularly.
Tomatoes Are a Great Source of Lycopene and Other Vitamins
Tomatoes are known for their lycopene content, a compound that gives tomatoes their red color and also happens to be a powerful antioxidant. According to the results of a long-term study that lasted for 12 years, participants (who were middle-aged men) who had high levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have any form of stroke compared to those who had lower levels.[i] Moreover, tomatoes have the following nutrients that can support optimal health:
Herbs Add Flavor and Aroma to This Recipe
Herbs are a great way to add appeal to any recipe. Specific herbs offer certain flavors, and a combination of them can add a wonderful kick to the dish’s overall flavor. This recipe makes use of three healthy herbs, namely:
Basil is an essential herb that you should always have in your kitchen, not just for its flavor, but for its nutrients as well. It’s known for its sweet, earthy flavor and emits a wonderful aroma when cooked.
Health benefits, however, are where basil truly shines. Just two tablespoons of the herb can provide 29 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin K. This nutrient is important for recovery, because it can help improve blood clotting whenever you sustain cuts or wounds.
In addition, basil provides good levels of vitamin A, which is an essential antioxidant that can help protect your cell linings from free radical damage, especially your blood vessels. Regular consumption of this vitamin can help lower your risk of various cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and atherosclerosis, as well as help prevent the cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing.
Parsley is usually garnished on top of dishes, and is ignored most of the time. If you’ve been doing this for some time now, you’re doing a great disservice to your health, because this little herb is loaded with nutrients you should not ignore.
For starters, parsley contains a whopping 574 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin K, and like basil, can help improve blood clotting, in addition to helping promote bone strength and helping limit neuron damage in the brain.
Parsley is rich in iron as well — twice as much as spinach, in fact. This mineral plays an important part in your overall health, because it helps carry oxygen from your lungs to every organ and tissue in your body.
Rosemary is one of the most popular cooking herbs around. Its flavor and aroma lends itself well to a myriad of dishes, such as sandwiches, roasted meats, dips and soups. It’s even used to make infused oil that can be used in aromatherapy.
Memory improvement is usually the health benefit attributed to rosemary, especially for the elderly. In one study, 28 senior adults were given varying doses of rosemary, alongside a placebo. The researchers noticed that an optimum dosage of 750 milligrams helped improve cognitive function among the participants, compared to the placebo and higher doses of rosemary.[ii]
Aside from memory improvement, rosemary is known for its vitamin A content, which can help with eliminating free radicals, supporting eye health, maintaining healthy skin and helping lower the risk of lung and mouth cancer. Vitamin C is also abundant in rosemary, which can help maintain a healthy immune system and collagen synthesis.
About the Author
Pete Evans is an internationally renowned chef who has not only cooked for the general public, but also cooked a royal banquet for the Prince and Princess of Denmark, a private dinner for Martha Stewart and even represented his hometown at the gala GʼDay U.S.A. dinner for 600 in NYC. Pete’s career has moved from the kitchen into the lounge room with many TV appearances including Lifestyle Channel’s Home show, Postcards from Home, FISH, My Kitchen Rules and Moveable Feast.
Pete’s latest endeavor, The Paleo Way, is a vibrant health, weight management and fitness program, tailored to a Paleo lifestyle. Its 10-week activation program teaches you the synergy between eating good food, moving your body every day and looking at the positive sides and secrets to a healthier and happier life.