Main Dish

Zucchini “Zoodles” with Broccoli Pesto Sauce

zucchini broccoli pesto | confections of a dietitian

One of my favorite things to do is sit and read through various recipes online and in cookbooks. So when my aunt, who is also a dietitian, asked me to develop a recipe for a newsletter she sends out quarterly, I jumped on the opportunity. The food highlighted for this spring’s issue is zucchini and it did not take me long to figure out what I would make: zucchini noodles or “zoodles”! I know I’m super late to the spiralizing trend, but I love how easy it is to substitute some or all of the pasta with zucchini noodles in many of my favorite pasta recipes. It’s a great way to get an extra serving of vegetables in without sacrificing flavor or texture.

Vegetables, in almost all forms, have sounded very unappealing to me throughout my pregnancy. Therefore, I’ve been trying to “sneak” them into dishes as often as I can. I’ve always loved my broccoli pesto pasta sauce so I was curious how it would pair with zucchini noodles. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that it worked out great! The sauce, surprisingly, is packed with flavor, even though there are only a few ingredients. It does taste like broccoli, but it also has a hint of garlic, some nuttiness from the parmesan and a little bit of heat. It’s super creamy too! Replacing all of the pasta with zucchini left little sustenance so I chose to just replace half and use whole wheat pasta for the rest. The whole wheat pasta lends a nice, nutty flavor as well as a little bit of bite (the zucchini noodles tend to be on the softer side). The bonus of all of this is that the sauce is super green, so it’s fun to eat, and you get two servings of vegetables without sacrificing any flavor. All of that in 30 minutes of cooking makes this a quick and healthy weeknight meal that I hope you enjoy as much as we have!

zucchini broccoli pesto | confections of a dietitian

Zucchini “Zoodles” with Broccoli Pesto Sauce

Servings: 4, 1 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/4 lb. whole wheat spaghetti pasta
  • 1 large head broccoli (about ½ pound)
  • 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (1oz) freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Use the fine noodle blade on a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. If you do not have a spiralizer, you can make the noodles using a cheese grater by running the long side of the zucchini down the grater. Set “zoodles” aside until step 9.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and a medium pot of water to a boil for the broccoli.
  3. Remove broccoli florets from stems and chop into medium florets. Peel stems with a vegetable peeler and slice into 1/2-inch segments.
  4. Steam, for 5 to 6 minutes, or par-boil, for 3 to 5 minutes, the broccoli florets and stems until just tender. Drain broccoli, if needed, and set aside.
  5. When large pot of water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook to al dente, according to package instructions. When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water to thin sauce. Drain pasta in colander and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, in the medium pot used to cook the broccoli, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat.
  7. Add onion and reduce to medium-low, sautéing until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes.
  8. Add steamed broccoli, salt and red pepper flakes and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour whole milk over mixture and let cook for 30 seconds.
  9. While onion mixture is cooking, heat large pot used for pasta over medium heat with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add zucchini “zoodles” and sauté for about 5 minutes, until zoodles are soft but still have a slight bite.
  10. Once broccoli mixture is cooked, transfer to a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until it is finely chopped. Add a little of reserved pasta water at a time until sauce is smooth, but still thick.
  11. Add whole wheat pasta, broccoli sauce and parmesan cheese to large pot with zucchini zoodles. Cook over medium high heat for 1-2 more minutes, stirring frequently, and adding additional pasta water, as needed, to thin sauce and fully coat noodles. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  12. Serve hot with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

Notes

1. I frequently serve this with sautéed shrimp or chicken breasts to add more protein to our meal.

Nutrition Information for 1 cup: Calories: 190  Carbohydrates: 27g   Fat: 7g   Protein: 10g

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Thai Carrot Salad with Curry Spiced Cashews

thai carrot salad | confections of a dietitian

Thanksgiving is next week and I’m giving you… a salad! I know, typical dietitian move, but you have to hear me out about this salad. For me, and I would assume for many of you, it is challenging to keep my diet in moderation this time of year with all of the delicious sweets and traditional, yet heavy, holiday dishes. For balance, I usually resort to eating salads each day for either lunch or dinner. After awhile though, green lettuce salads start to get a little mundane. Sure, there are lots of awesome salad recipes out there, but I can only buy so many ingredients for one person before it starts getting a little ridiculous. This Thai carrot salad is the perfect answer. I always have these ingredients in my pantry and it changes the salad pattern up just enough to keep things interesting! Another bonus is that carrots are always available, so you can make this salad year round and not have to worry about finding everything that you need.

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Grilled Chicken Souvlaki

confections of a dietitian | chicken souvlaki

Hey there! Long time, no see! As usual, life has been super busy around here. My husband and I just got back from a whirlwind trip through Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It was amazing and I’m trying to hunt down some ingredients to be able to share some recipes with you from our trip soon. But, for now, I’m just excited to be back in the kitchen! After eating out for every meal for the first half of March, I cannot tell you how nice it has been to eat healthy, home-cooked meals. So, as a welcome back, I’m sharing one of our favorite dinners with you!

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White Chicken Enchiladas

white chicken enchiladas | confections of a dietitian
When Colin and I first started dating, we decided to compete in a March Madness bracket. It was just the two of us, so the grand prize for the winner was dinner and drinks, all prepared by the loser. I won, of course, so Colin decided to make chicken enchiladas for me. It was love at first bite, although not with what you’d think. I fell in love with his chicken enchilada recipe! Of course, I couldn’t just leave it as is, so I’ve been changing it every time I make it and this last time, I finally perfected the recipe. It’s so good that I knew I had to share it with all of you!

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Shredded Salsa Chicken

shredded salsa chicken | confections of a dietitian

Somehow, January has turned into a crazy month for me. All of my commitments slowly started to pile on and I didn’t realize until a few days ago just how much time each was going to take. All of that means that I need some easy, healthy dinners for the coming weeks! I have to think I’m not the only one who has crammed a lot into the month of January, so I wanted to share this super simple, delicious dinner option with all of you.

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Colin’s Chili

crockpot chili | confections of a dietitian

With football season in full swing and the Packers squeezing in a spot in the playoffs, I knew I had to share one of our favorite game day foods. The reason Colin and I started dating, or at least continued our first conversation after initial introductions, was because of our mutual love for the Packers. Since neither of us knew many Packers fans in Washington, we quickly started watching the games together. The games always tended to fall around meal times, so Colin made chili for one of the first games he invited me over for. His chili making skills impressed me, maybe even more than his love of football, and it quickly became one of our favorite half time meals. (Side note: Colin later revealed his chili recipe was from Cooking Comically, which is a hilarious way to write recipes, if you ask me.) After moving to Japan and realizing that half time was either going to be spent sleeping (no game is important enough for me to wake up at 3am), drinking coffee or at work, I knew we were going to have to resolve to eating chili on a regular weeknight.

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Chicken, Quinoa and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

chicken enchilada casserole | confections of a dietitian

The week of Thanksgiving always seems to be packed full of grocery shopping, prepping, cooking and baking. This year is turning out to be no different, with the added stress and fun of taking a trip to Tokyo this past weekend. We’re not hosting this year so one of my biggest challenges, and one I’m sure many people also face, has been trying to come up with healthy meals for the rest of the weekend. With Thanksgiving day being such a food-centric holiday, I never want the other meals to be heavy or time consuming and I certainly do not want to go out and eat unhealthy restaurant food.

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Japanese Pumpkin and Ricotta Toasts

confections of a dietitian | japanese pumpkin and ricotta toasts

Japan loves Halloween. It’s a fairly new holiday here, as it used to only be celebrated by foreigners before it became popular among the locals too. Every store and restaurant has displays and decorations (some will even give a discount if you show up in costume this weekend) and all of the typical treats and candies have special Halloween packaging. There are costume contests and other Halloween type events at the local malls and trick or treating on base for all of the military and local Japanese kids. Since pumpkins are so iconic in America surrounding Halloween, Japan has also adopted this specialty flavor for the month of October. As exciting as this may sound, it’s not the typical pumpkin spice flavor that Americans know and love. In Japan, their “pumpkin” is what we know as kabocha squash. You can imagine how this has become very disorienting when buying, for example, pumpkin Kit-Kats and having them taste like raw squash, and not like the warm fall flavors that we are accustomed to. (My apologies again to my siblings and everyone else that I convinced to try the “pumpkin” Kit-Kats I brought back with me.) The pumpkin ice cream that I found was better, probably because it was made by Häagen Dazs, but the best thing I’ve had was the pumpkin ramen from one of our favorite ramen shops. To summarize my taste testing experiences so far, pumpkin specials in Japan are much better when they are savory rather than sweet.

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Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwiches

blackened mahi mahi sandwiches | confections of a dietitian

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Spaghetti Squash Tacos

Spaghetti squash has already had its’ moment, or maybe moments, of food star-dom. It first became popular when everyone gave up carbs as a substitute for pasta and made a comeback when those same people swore off gluten a few years later. But I’ve never liked it as an alternative to pasta. To me, spaghetti squash is sweet, like most other squash, and smothering it in tomato sauce doesn’t make it shine. I’d always been on the lookout for alternative ways to utilize spaghetti squash when I came across this recipe a few years ago in my (then) new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Intrigued by the flavor combination, I figured I should give it a try.

spaghetti squash tacos | confections of a dietitian

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