Health Tips – Spaghetti Squash with Parley Lemon Pesto
My pal, Gilah Rosner and I love to share recipes, kitchen wisdom, and nutritional science tidbits.
We know that deciding what to eat has gotten so complicated, it seems you need a scientist in the kitchen. But don’t worry – now you’ve got two! We’ll serve you bite size portions of the latest nutritional science, along with generous helpings of traditional wisdom regarding the preparation and enjoyment of wholesome food. Mostly we are two foodies who want to have fun in the kitchen, then sit down to the sensuous pleasures of leisurely enjoying a beautiful meal.
Here are our criteria for what to cook. The food must be delicious, nutritious, relatively quick to prepare and look gorgeous. It’s easier than you think.
Today we’re serving up spaghetti squash with Parley Lemon Pesto. This delightful condiment can act as a sauce, dip, spread or dollop that delivers a wallop of flavor and nutrition when added to a soup, cooked vegetable, sandwich or healthy grain. Don’t scoff at humble parsley – it’s packed with intense peppery flavor and phytonutrients with many health benefits. Parsley was one of the featured “Superfoods of the Week” in my 10-week webinar course, The PlantPlus Nutrition Program, based on my book, The PlantPlus Diet Solution: Personalized Nutrition for Life. For week 9, I asked Gilah to pinch hit for me as lecturer. One of her tasks was to pick a superfood and share a recipe. We were absolutely amazed by this easy pesto’s taste, nutrition, beauty and versatility.
Parsley is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and micronutrients like vitamin C and vitamin A, and it’s simply loaded with vitamin K, which improves calcium absorption. Thus Vitamin K is important for healthy bones and a healthy heart. Parsley packs a punch with its vitamin K content, more than any other green herb or vegetable.
Parsley, like many vegetables and fruits rich in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, can help fight inflammation – the underlying cause of most chronic and degenerative diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and autoimmunity. Parsley contains a plant pigment called myricetin, thought to have preventative effects in skin cancer and in diabetes.
Traditional herbalism teaches that parsley is also a wonderful digestive – one of the classes of aromatic herbs with square stems and leafy greens that help stimulate digestion and eliminate sluggishness. Particularly after a meal, munching a few springs of parsley is wonderful for good digestion and fresh breath.
Add a generous handful of parsley into eggs, pasta, salads or salad dressings, or even into your morning smoothie! It’s really delicious. Or enjoy this fast, easy and delicious pesto.
Parsley Lemon Pesto
- 2 cups packed fresh flat leaf parsley (much more flavorful than the curly kind)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 medium cloves garlic (a powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory food, also great for cardiovascular health)
- Heaping 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds or almonds (you can toast in a pan over low heat or in the microwave, start with 45 seconds and check)
- Grated zest of 1 lemon (use a zester, microplane or cheese grater to get the yellow zest, not the white peel)
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon good quality colored sea salt (like Celtic, pink Himalayan) and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper
Put everything in a food processor or blender and mix to a uniform consistency.
Now, taste it! Do you love it as is, or can you perfect it a bit? This is where the art of cooking comes in, and you are the artist. Would you like to add some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese? Go for it… you’ll probably need more oil to keep the proper consistency. Does it need more garlic or more lemon? Remember, a recipe is only a suggestion. Use what you have on hand, and play with your food so that it tastes absolutely scrumptious to you.
As mentioned, a spoonful of Parsley Lemon Pesto can be stirred into soup, like butternut squash, tomato or even chicken soup. It’s fantastic on fish and chicken, stirred into plain quinoa or wild rice, spread on a sandwich or used to dress up a simple cooked vegetable. Which brings us to our companion recipe:
Spaghetti Squash with Parsley Lemon Pesto
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- Parsley Lemon Pesto
- Grated parmesan cheese and extra chopped parsley for on top
- Optional: chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Cut the squash in half, and scoop out all the wet, stringy interior and seeds with a soup spoon. You can toast the seeds later if you like.
Smear a little olive oil on the cut sides, turn upside down on a baking pan, and cook at 375 degrees till tender when pierced with a knife, about an hour. When cool, scrape the strands of squash out of the shell using a fork.
Mix squash with some Parsley Lemon Pesto to coat the strands, and optional sun dried tomato. Top with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Isn’t that gorgeous?
Now pour yourself a glass of wine or other festive beverage of choice, light a candle, and enjoy your meal on a beautiful plate, with a lovely placemat or table cloth, and some soothing background music. Your body, heart, mind and spirit will thank you. Ah…life is good.
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