Originating from Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, pesto is a type of pasta sauce that’s traditionally made with basil, crushed garlic and European pine nuts and blended with olive oil and cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano and Fiore Sardo.1
Today, Megan Olson from PaleoHacks shares a healthy and unique twist on this classic Italian dish: Zingy Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto Recipe. This dish’s “sauce” is an avocado pesto that’s creamy, mildly sweet and nutritious. A forkful of this tasty dish can take you to Italy — at least for a while.
Zingy Zucchini Noodles With Creamy Avocado Pesto Recipe
Cooking Time: 15 minutes Preparation time: 10 minutes
For the pesto:
- 2 small ripe avocados
- 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- Juice of 1 organic lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the noodles:
2 large organic zucchini
Serving Size: 2
- Spiralize the zucchinis and then set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, add avocados, parsley, pine nuts, lemon, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Blend on high for 2 to 3 minutes until creamy, then slowly drizzle in the avocado oil while it continues to blend and emulsify.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pain is hot, add the zucchini noodles to the pan, tossing them for around 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce to the pan. Using tongs, coat the zucchini noodles thoroughly.
- Serve immediately, garnishing with microgreens or parsley.
This Zingy Zucchini Noodles With Creamy Avocado Pesto Recipe Is Pleasantly Good
Did you know that the name pesto comes from the Italian word “pestare” meaning “to pound” or “to crush?” Traditional pesto is actually made by pounding or crushing ingredients in a circular manner using a mortar and pestle.2 While this dish won’t require pounding at all, the Italian inspiration remains but with a healthy twist.
Why You Need Avocados in Your Diet
While using avocado for pesto might seem untraditional, this can be a very good decision given the fruit’s benefits. Healthy monounsaturated fats in avocado are unparalleled, since these are easily burned by the body for fuel and are crucial in:3
- Sustaining proper brain function
- Maintaining cholesterol levels in the healthy range
- Boosting heart health
- Absorbing fat-soluble nutrients like alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein from other foods
- Helping prevent degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Avocado can help with satiety, making you feel full for a longer time. A study published in the Nutrition Journal highlighted that eating half of a fresh avocado during lunch can help with satiety, especially if you’re overweight, and may even prevent unnecessary snacking.4 You can find health-boosting vitamins and nutrients, such as B vitamins (B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9), vitamins C, E and K, potassium and fiber in avocado, too.
If you do not have access to or cannot afford organic avocado varieties, there’s no need to worry. It’s one of the safest fruits you can buy conventionally grown, as the thick skin protects the inner fruit from being contaminated by pesticides.
Zucchini Noodles: A Perfect Alternative to Conventional Noodles
Making zucchini noodles instead of using processed pasta is a dietary switch your body will thank you for. Zucchini is low in calories and contains no cholesterol or unhealthy fats. This vegetable is also a fiber-rich option and is known to help with satiety or making you feel full longer.5
The flavonoid antioxidants zeaxanthin, carotenes and lutein in zucchini play a significant role in slowing down the aging process, and may help prevent diseases by fighting free radicals in the body. Take note that most of the antioxidants are in the skin, so when making noodles or other zucchini-based dishes, leave the skin on.
You can get your share of B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3 and B6), vitamin A and choline in zucchini. Along with iron, manganese and phosphorus, these vital minerals in this green vegetable will do your body good:
- Zinc and magnesium: These play a valuable role in ensuring healthy blood sugar regulation.
- Potassium: This can help with regulating blood pressure levels and counteracting the effects of excess sodium in your body, making it a heart-healthy mineral.
- Copper: It may help ease pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
When buying zucchinis, purchase organic varieties, as conventional zucchini is often sprayed with pesticides and herbicides that can harm your body.
Pack on Parsley for a Health Boost
Aside from basil, you can use another green herb like parsley to form the base of your pesto. Don’t underestimate this small and popular “garnish” — parsley actually contains antioxidants like beta-carotene, and vitamins B9, C and K.
Fiber in parsley can act as a digestive aid, and it is traditionally used to ease colic, indigestion and gas. Parsley may also help cover up bad breath (but not necessarily eliminate it). Meanwhile, the high levels of chlorophyll in parsley contribute to its bright green color, grassy taste and multiple health benefits, namely:
|Helping with body cleansing and detoxification
||Assisting with blood purification and detoxification
|Promoting optimal blood pressure levels
||Supporting elimination of mold in the body
|Neutralizing bad air you might breathe in
||Boosting tissue growth and repair
|Cleansing key elimination systems like the bowel, liver and blood
||Helping the body process more oxygen
You can find flavonoids in parsley as well. Two particular standout compounds can positively impact your health in the long run are:6,7
- Apigenin: This was revealed to help inhibit breast cancer cells and shrink breast cancer tumors.
- Luteolin: This compound can assist in calming brain inflammation, a known primary cause of neurodegeneration. A study also linked luteolin to lower rates of age-related memory loss in mice.
About the Blog
Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo, from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.
Sources and References