If you’ve never hopped aboard the ‘zoodles’ (A.K.A zucchini noodles) train but have always secretly wanted to get on board, do I have the perfect four recipes for you!
Whenever you’re trying to cook something for the first time, especially if you’re not a ninja in the kitchen, it’s always a good idea to find easy recipes so you don't get too overwhelmed.
These are all easy and guess what? They all actually taste good.
I know… Shocking.
So, why use zucchini noodles? They’re a real impasta!
By using zucchini (spiralised) noodles instead of regular wheat noodles, you can help improve your digestion and increase your intake of nutrients.
Zucchini contains a whole load of nutrients including Vitamin C and Folate, which means it’s high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I use zucchini in this Thai Prawn, Peanut and Zoodle dish.
Zoodles are a great option for when you’re trying to shed a kilo or two because they’re high in dietary fibre but low in calories.
If you’re already a zoodles master and want to experiment with other veggies, you can try out cucumber noodles, carrot noodles, beetroot noodles or even sweet potato noodles - there are no rules to veggie noodles!
I've also dropped them into this Chicken, Edamame and Zucchini Noodle Soup.
Now that we’ve got the noods in order, I've got another couple of new recipes up my sleeve for you to try. I'm going to start with a vegan version because, cover your eyes, there's a meat version coming up later.
Ok let's chat about the cheese! Whilst I’m not anti-dairy, I do believe that too much of a good thing is never a good thing (except for greens… always eat your greens!). Having too much dairy, especially if you have inflammatory issues can add to more inflammation in the body, even if you don’t have such adverse reactions to it.
I’ve swapped out regular pesto here for a cashew-cheese based pesto. Cashew cheese is seriously good. In fact, when I first started looking at dairy-free cheese alternatives, cashew cheese was one of the first ones I tasted. It was actually one of the cheeses I’ve ever made. If the idea of cashew cheese seems nutty to you, I was totally once with you. What I will tell you is this - once you’ve tried it for yourself, you’ll realise that it’s actually delicious.
Even if you don’t live a dairy-free life, it’s always good to have a varied diet and incorporate healthy ingredients into different things! Variety is key. In saying this, just because cashew cheese is vegan, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should eat it in copious amounts (sorry!). Cashews are high in calories and do contain a bit of fat – so I recommend not eating them by the truckload but rather, enjoying them in recipes like this one every now and again.
Cashews also feature in my Golden Gut Mango Cheesecake it’s a raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cheesecake that is absolutely delicious.
If you’re wondering how plain cashews = cheese, you've got a point. There's one vital part of this recipe that's M.I.A... Nutritional yeast. If you ask any vegan, they’ll tell you that nutritional yeast is one of the best things ever. If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast, it’s a bit of a weird concept but it's very doable and these days easy to find.
Nutritional yeast is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and protein. It’s got a tasty, cheesy flavour and is high in fibre so it’s great for digestion.
I love sprinkling nutritional yeast flakes on top of soups, salads or using it in dressings and dips. They’re particularly fabulous when cooking for the dairy-free, so give them a go in my Vegan Lentil Moussaka here.
Once we’ve got the cheesiness sorted, it’s time for the flavour. Pesto has a fresh flavour unlike no other. It can seriously turn a dish from a 7 to a 10. Using herbs, like basil leaves, adds extra flavour that’ll keep you coming back for more! Basil is actually high in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants so it’s great for our skin, immune system and more.
So, if you’re ready for a simple meal that everyone will go nuts for and will be ready in less than 30 minutes, this one's for you! You can enjoy it for lunch or dinner, or even serve it as a side.
Zucchini Noodles with Basil Pesto
- 4 zucchinis
- Pinch Celtic Sea Salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Basil Pesto (makes 1 cup)
- 1 cup cashews
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ tsp Celtic Sea Salt
- Using a spiralizer, turn zucchini into zoodles. You can also do this with a peeler. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.
- In a heavy-bottom pan, fry garlic in olive oil. Add zoodles and warm until cooked through.
- To make basil pesto, place nuts in food processor and process until fine. Add garlic and pulse, then add basil.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil until consistency is right, then add lemon juice, yeast flakes and sea salt. Add more olive oil if need be.
- Mix pesto with zoodles and serve.
Next up I'd love to share with you a non-vegan zoodle recipe for the meat eaters out there from my book Supercharge Your Gut.
Enter my Chocolate Chilli Beef Zoodle dish which is a great communal style dish you can place in the centre of the table for everyone to enjoy.
The bitterness of cacao adds a flavourful thump to the savoury beef in this Mexican-inspired combo, while also providing a mega hit of magnesium and antioxidants. I've incorporated chilli to add a hit of fire to ramp up a slow metabolism. Perfect for kapha constitutions if you're following an Ayurvedic way of life.
I like to serve this dish with Guacamole. I usually whip it up like this...
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
To make the guacamole, scoop the flesh from the avocados into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cumin, add the remaining ingredients and roughly mash together using a fork. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Instead of cacao powder, you can use 60 g (21/4 oz) chopped dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). I usually look for one made with coconut sugar. If using cacao powder, you may need to add a tiny bit of sweetener to taste if you have a sweet tooth.
Chocolate Chilli Beef Zoodles
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil 1 brown onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) minced (ground) beef
- 1–2 teaspoons chilli powder, to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 400 g (14 oz) tinned tomatoes
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) good-quality chicken or bone broth
- 3 large carrots, grated
Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3–4 minutes, or until softened. Add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes, or until well browned, breaking up any lumps with the back of the spoon.
Stir in the spices and herbs and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add the cacao powder, tomato paste, tomatoes, broth and grated carrot, stirring to combine.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Try one of these zucchini noodle dishes or all four and let me know what you think in the comments section below.