Monday, August 12, 2013

Arugula Pesto Sauce with Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles)

I apologize for not posting any recipes in a while.  I have been busily working on updating the blog.  This whole managing a website thing is fairly new to me and my most recent training was MySpace (remember those days?).  I was also writing the new blog entry celebrating my year-long healthy milestone.  Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming support, by the way!  As always, I welcome any comments about the site, particular recipes you would like to see, or your feedback on the recipes.  

August is a particularly wonderful month even though this is the same time my immune system tries to attack the tiny ragweed particles floating in the air (thanks, allergies!).  It's around this time that food really seems to be invigorated with life.  Gardens are woven with vines of sun-ripened tomatoes and the cheerful colors of squash and peppers.  The farmers markets and produce departments are lined with rows of beautiful, fresh leaves and fruits with their own color palette and scents.  We are truly blessed by these magnificent gifts of the earth for our consumption, though we often take this for granted when we get caught up in the busyness of the day-to-day.  Next time you're tempted to get "cart rage" while angry at the person standing in your way because they can't make up their mind, take a moment to think about what it took for that little apple to make it to the crate and finally your shopping cart, or even just savor the smell of dill weed.

Lately, I can't seem to get enough of the fresh, local zucchini popping up everywhere.  It feels like Bubba Gump's love for shrimp except with zucchini.  I've made breads, muffins, pan-fried, baked fries, roasted with veggies, raw dipped in hummus, minestrone, and I could go on...  One of my favorites lately is making zucchini noodles, which is fairly simple with the right tool.  To go with it, I decided to make Arugula Basil Pesto Sauce because I needed to use the leaves in my garden before the caterpillars finish them!

Printable Version

What You'll Need:

2 cups Basil Leaves
1 cup Arugula Leaves
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Walnuts/Pecans (or your choice)
2 Peeled Garlic Cloves
1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt
Pepper (to taste)
Honey (optional)
1 medium-sized Zucchini
2 cups Water

1.  Rinse and dry your zucchini.  Carefully laying your vegetable flat on a non-slippery surface, use your julienne peeler or noodle-making apparatus to make zucchini noodles.  I use a high-quality julienne peeler and it works something like a razor.  Be very careful with it because it may actually cut you like a razor.  To make noodles, pretend you're shaving your leg, but it's a zucchini.  Run your peeler from top to bottom and then clear off the noodles, making a pile.  Repeat.  I usually continue slicing noodles until I get to the seed layer, then I rotate it until all you're left with is a white zucchini.  I save it for later and chop it up in the next day's stir fry.  Sprinkle a little salt over your zucchini noodles and let them sit for a moment.
2.  Meanwhile, heat your two cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for use a little bit later.

3.  Using a food processor, chop your basil and arugula leaves using the pulse or low setting until finely textured.  Add your garlic cloves and run it on the low setting for a moment.  I chose to add only two garlic cloves because I prefer my pesto to be somewhat on the mild side.  If you prefer more of a "bite", feel free to add another clove or two.  With the processor still running, pour your olive oil, salt, and pepper in through the top and run it for a minute. 
4.  Lastly, add your choice of nuts to the food processor and let it process for another minute.  I chose to use both walnuts and pecans because it was what I had on hand and because I think the sweetness of the pecans helps to tame the "bite" pesto and arugula tend to have.
5.  Turn your machine off and sample a small taste of the sauce.  If you feel it needs more seasoning, adjust accordingly.  At this point, I like to take a spatula and scrape it up and down the sides and manually mix it to be sure everything has blended really well.
6.  Add a small drizzle of honey to the processor and blend if you would like.  I chose to do this because I think the little bit of sweetness keeps the peppery zing of the arugula from becoming overpowering.
7.  Place a metal steamer basket over the top of your pan that should now contain boiling water.  Place your zucchini noodles in the basket and let them lightly steam for 3-5 minutes or until your desired doneness.  I like to sprinkle a little Mrs. Dash seasoning on them.  Remember, you could always eat these noodles raw or saute them in a pan rather than steam them. 
8.  Remove and serve your fresh pesto over your steamed zucchini noodles.  Personally, I like to add a fried egg for a protein source, but it's delicious just on its own.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

365 Days of Healthy Changes

As a young adult, I have encountered several health issues.  For years, I dealt with weight struggles that seemed to have no end.  In 2004, I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes (insulin-dependent) and hyperthyroidism.  I have also had a hard time with psoriasis and other issues.  My naturopathic doctor has nicknamed me "the autoimmune queen."  The challenges of these conditions accumulated over the years up until the point where I decided to make lasting changes.

On July 31st last year, I decided I no longer wanted to feel bad anymore and I would do everything in my power to change that.  With the help of a naturopathic doctor, I began a process of elimination in my diet.  I immediately removed all of the WHEAT/GLUTEN, DAIRY, ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, REFINED SUGARS, PEANUTS, WHITE POTATOES, HIGHLY REFINED GRAINS, HIGH GLYCEMIC FRUITS like oranges, grapes, and bananas, or DRIED SWEETENED FRUITS/FRUIT JUICES, and PROCESSED FOODS in general.  When possible, I would buy fruits and vegetables that were ORGANIC and NON-GMO.  When I could afford to, I would try to purchase meats and poultry that were ORGANIC, GRASSFED, FREE RANGE, or CAGE-FREE.  I also tried my best to be mindful about the origins of certain fish, usually looking for WILD-CAUGHT or FARMED, but being careful about contamination.  
I paid more attention to my meal times and the amount of starches with each meal as well as many other details.

Today, one year later, I am 65 lbs. lighter than I was.  My HbA1C (measure of blood sugar control over the past 3 months or so) has gone down from 8.9% in May 2012 to 6.6% in July 2013.  My other numbers have been coming down too.  I have been working on getting into more activity now and becoming more comfortable working out with diabetes.  I continue to learn about health, foods, the body, the mind, and knowledge of sustenance.  I am inspired by Indigenous food philosophies, the year long cycle of food, and Haudnosaunee spiritual practice and sustenance.  I love to cook and think of new meal ideas and inspirations.  Though the past several years have had their share of pain and ill health, I am very thankful I have found the path I am on.  I hope my story and blog brings you some hope, comfort, or happiness too.  Nya:weh.