Spring Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza

Spring Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza

My black car is officially yellow, so it’s time to break out the asparagus recipes, starting with this spring asparagus and goat cheese pizza! While I am usually adamantly pro-tomato sauce on pizza, I love this pie topped with garlic oil, two cheeses, crisp-tender asparagus and thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes. Don’t be skeptical of potatoes on pizza - the crispy rounds of potato are so good! And as I’m writing this, I’m realizing proscuitto or bacon would be a very welcome addition.

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Vegetarian Polenta Lasagna with Kale, Butternut Squash & Mushrooms

Vegetarian Polenta Lasagna with Kale, Butternut Squash & Mushrooms

Inspired by my all time favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe, this weeknight friendly recipe for vegetarian polenta lasagna with kale, butternut squash and creminis is sure to become a new favorite! Use precooked lasagna rounds in place of lasagna noodles, which makes it gluten free too. Layered with caramelized fall vegetables, spicy arrabiata sauce, and lemony ricotta.

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Summer Spaghetti with Zoodles, Crispy Prosciutto and Garlic

Make the most of summer's bounty with this recipe for summer spaghetti, tossed with sauteed zoodles, burst cherry tomatoes, golden garlic and crispy prosciutto! 

Time for another round of Recipe Redux! This month's theme is Get Your Fruits and Veggies in Shape, all about trying creative cuts for fruits and veggies. I obviously went with zoodles, which I've been making on the reg since I was gifted a spiralizer for Christmas. In this recipe, I've tossed with whole grain spaghetti with briefly sauteed zoodles in a summery cherry tomato basil sauce infused with tons of garlic and crispy prosciutto.

Oh, and there's cheese. I love you too.

Veggies pretending to be other things has gotten quite popular lately. Certainly, I've been on board with the trend. It's a fun way to fit in more produce and experiment with different flavors and textures.

Buuuuut...I feel the need to clarify something.

Cauliflower is not rice. Zucchini is not pasta. Lettuce is not bread. Vegetables are not a substitute for carbohydrates.

Don't get me wrong. Zoodles are fun and I swear zucchini tastes better in noodle vs semi-circle form. And I adore cauliflower rice. Actually, I think I like it better than real rice...probably because I'm pretty miserable at cooking rice so that it's nice and fluffy.

But there's also a sinister side to the whole vegetables as other things trend. Rather than being a fun way to experiment with different ways of enjoying veggies, it's become a trendy and socially acceptable way to go low carb. Gone are the Atkins days of a giant hunk of meat and steamed veggies. Now you can have mashed "potatoes," "pizza," "pasta," and (gasp!), even "bread!"

Except it's not.

Zoodles are not pasta. There is an entire country that might kick your a** for claiming it to be so. Zoodles are really yummy briefly sauteed and tossed with actual pasta to add bulk and texture, like I did in this summer spaghetti recipe. They're also tasty in "noodle" soups, where they don't get gummy like pasta sometimes does. Zoodles left raw and topped with pasta sauce are awful. Just don't.

Cauliflower is not pizza. Cauliflower crust is really tasty, but nothing will compare to a thin, crispy pizza with a chewy crust and little spots of char from it's trip into a burning hot woodfire oven. But, it's still really really good, if not pizza, so feel free to try my Mexican inspired one, which still has carbs from a "sauce" of refried beans.

Cauliflower is also not rice. It's better than rice. Yeah, I said it. But you still need carbs with your meal, so top that cauliflower rice with beans or at the very least, have some fruit on the side.

Lettuce is not sandwich bread and it's most certainly not crispy crusted French baguette, savory garlic studded ciabatta or sweet and buttery Sally Lunn bread. It does make for a refreshing wrap for rich, Asian inspired fillings, like warm, soy marinated chicken and veggies or my bulgogi tofu meatballs, as long as you include some brown rice or rice noodles for carbs (and to soak up the delicious sauce).

If you want pizza, eat pizza. If you want bread, eat bread. If you want pasta, eat pasta.

And if you like, throw some zoodles into it.

Summer Spaghetti with Zoodles, Crispy Prosciutto and Garlic

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole grain spagehtti
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes (I used mini heirloom tomatoes), halved
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 8 oz mini fresh mozzarella balls, drained

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, cook until al dente. Reserve a little of the starchy pasta water (~ 1/2 cup) then drain and set pasta aside until ready to use.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic, proscuitto and red pepper flakes. Cook until prosciutto is crispy and garlic is golden, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add zucchini and saute until crisp tender about 5-7 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Toss in pasta with the veggies and add a little starchy pasta water to make a sauce. Stir in basil. Season with just a little salt and black pepper. Toss in mozzarella and serve immediately.

Gazpacho Pasta Salad

This whole grain gazpacho pasta salad is packed with cucumbers, tomatoes and is the perfect make ahead lunch for back to school time. 

I was asked to participate in the #PastaFits campaign as part of my work with Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Avocado A Day Nutrition possible! 

Hey guys! Excited to bring you the first of a 3-post collaboration with Pasta Fits! If you glance at my archives (or in my cabinet for that matter), you'd quickly see that I'm a big fan of pasta. Like, huge.

The theme for the first month of #PastaFits is back to school. Whether you have kids or not, September seems to be that time of the year when many start to settle down from a summer full of indulgence with healthier goals in mind. Of course, the holidays are right around the corner, making this month critical for establishing and solidifying healthier habits to take you through the smorgasbord coming straight at ya in November.

A great goal to start with is planning and preparing a healthy lunch on the weekend. Spend just 30 minutes prepping a big batch of whole grain based salad and you've got a third of your meals covered. BAM.

If you're looking for a family friendly salad to last all week, look no further than pasta salad. I mean, who doesn't like pasta? No really, who? I'm curious to know if there is one single person. My hypothesis is that every single human being who has ever experienced pasta loves it, but I could be wrong. Probably not though.

Sadly, there's a much larger number of people who absolutely love pasta who don't eat it because they think it's unhealthy. Ain't that a shame. First of all, there's always room for foods that bring you joy. But also, pasta is perfectly nutritious. My top choice is 100% whole grain, which is made with all whole grain flour. Whole grains are great for all sorts of things - cholesterol, weight management, keeping you full, and keeping your blood sugar steady.

Guess what else is good for blood sugar control? Pasta salad! Really! Studies have shown that cooking and cooling pasta helps lower the glycemic index even further. Once the starches in pasta are cooled, they turn into something called resistant starch. Similar to fiber, resistant starch doesn't break down into glucose, or sugar. This also means you absorb less calories and it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Another thing to love about pasta salad: it's an easy way to use up leftovers. As I learned this weekend hanging out with mostly parents, not wasting leftovers is a constant battle parents go through. Simply add leftover vegetables or proteins to this salad which bulks it up throughout the week. Garbanzo beans, other cheeses, broccoli, carrots, peppers, and zucchini would all be tasty tossed in here.

Gazpacho Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain penne
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • pine of red chili flakes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced small
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped small
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1 8 ounce ball of mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add canned tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sugar to a food processor. Blend until pureed. Season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place diced vegetables, olives and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing. When cooled a bit, add pasta and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will last 5 days in the fridge.

More delicious pasta dinners that show how #PastaFits:

Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes
Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes
Pasta with Creamy Sage Pumpkin Sauce, Cremini Mushrooms and Peas
Pasta with Creamy Sage Pumpkin Sauce, Cremini Mushrooms and Peas
Spaghetti with Clam and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Braised Kale
Spaghetti with Clam and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Braised Kale

Heirloom Chopped Caprese Salad

Heirloom Chopped Caprese Salad

Make the most of summer's best tomatoes with this heirloom chopped caprese salad. Feel free to use this recipe as a template. Add toasted bread cubes to make a panzanella salad. Add white beans or tofu cubes to increase the protein content. Serve over arugula or mixed greens or chopped cucumber to add more veggies. It's a perfect make ahead for picnics! 

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