Avocado Pesto for Creamy, Dairy-Free Pasta

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I’m dairy-intolerant, which most people don’t know because of my voracious passion for cheese. So, when it comes to easy swaps, I like to lay off the alfredo and dress my pasta in something a little more Abbi-friendly. Avocado Pesto is an easy pasta sauce swap because you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything—you get a creamy, thick sauce with tons of flavor while slicing that calorie count into bits. Healthy fats, people!

Each element of this recipe brings a different little something-something to the table. The base is avocado, of course, but the star of any pesto will always be fresh basil. I prefer Sweet Basil (what you normally find at the store) or Genovese Basil (a little more peppery) to Thai Basil, which lends some whiffs of licorice to your cooking (not for me).

Some pesto recipes are super oily. I love the flavor of olive oil, so we’re not omitting it—but we also don’t need to use olive oil as the thinner. Before you know it, you’ve added 1/2 cup of olive oil and you end up with a greasy pasta. My healthier swap is vegetable stock, which thins and adds fullness to the flavor. If I’m out of stock, I’ve been known to throw in a few tablespoons of unsweetened original almond milk (not vanilla) which is kinda good, honestly. Fresh lemon adds a brightness to your pesto, as well as some balancing acidity to the richness of the avocado. I’ve added a clove of garlic for flavor (a necessity in any good pesto) and seasoning to taste.

Fold your Avocado Pesto into warm pasta and top with toasted walnuts and fresh Pecorino, or mix it into your favorite kitchen-sink pasta (i.e., me throwing all the vegetables that need to be used up into a sauté pan and going from there).

If you are not worried about dairy, you can add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to your pesto. Be sure to taste the sauce before adding any additional kosher salt, as the cheese will lend saltiness.

Avocado Pesto

YOU’LL NEED:
1 ripe avocado
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable stock (for desired consistency)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese (optional)

Add all ingredients to a small food processor and blend until smooth. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

Makes enough to coat 4 servings of pasta.

Almond Flour Mixed-Berry Scones

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On day 4 or 5 of Whole 30, I start thinking about baked goods. Y’all know this. We also know that they’re not technically Whole 30 because of that whole “baked goods” rule, so just scroll right on by and don’t report me to the Whole 30 authorities if you’re following the plan by the book.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… these scones. If you’re familiar with baking, you’ll probably look at this ingredients list and notice something major missing: sweetener. These Almond Flour Mixed-Berry Scones are not sweet, other than the natural sweetness you get from whatever berries you choose. If you would like for them to be sweet, omit the applesauce and add 1/4 cup of honey (or maple syrup or agave or liquid sweetener of choice). I have not tested with a dry sweetener, but I think you could get away with 1/4 cup of coconut sugar and just end up with a drier scone. If you’re adding sweetener, mix it into that melted butter and brush a little bit on top at the end.

They have a fantastic moist texture, which is perfect for those (like me) who can’t stand dry pastries. I’d liken them to biscuit or muffin moisture (albeit, with a different texture). If you’ve mixed up your scone dough and it seems too wet, add an additional tablespoon of almond flour and teaspoon of tapioca. NOTE: Your dough will be sticky. But, it should be able to hold together once you’ve patted it into a circle. If you’re really having issues with it, refrigerate for 20 minutes to make it easier to mold. It has been consistently sticky for me, but it bakes up just fine.

Fresh or frozen? Fresh berries are ideal for this recipe because they don’t have all the extra moisture of frozen berries, but, that being said, fresh berries are pricey and you can’t get that good mixed berry blend. So, I used frozen berries. I put my berries on the stove to thaw them—you could also pop in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds—and then spooned the berries (not the extra liquid that came out of them) onto a paper towel. Once it had absorbed some of the moisture, I added to my wet ingredients.

Almond Flour Mixed-Berry Scones

DRY:
2 3/4 cups almond flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

WET:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp. ghee or butter, melted (and an extra tablespoon for brushing on top, if desired)
1 cup mixed berries of choice (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries & cherries)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Start by whisking together your dry ingredients until combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with applesauce. Pour in 4 Tbsp. melted ghee/butter (shouldn’t be too hot—just enough so that it’s melted) and whisk until wet ingredients are combined. Add in berries (see my note above about moisture).
  3. Add wet ingredients to the center of the dry ingredient bowl, using a wooden spoon or fork to gently combine until just incorporated. If your dough needs a little more structure, add in those extra flour amounts I listed above. Turn dough onto a parchment paper-lined pan dusted with a little tapioca. Pat dough into a circle.
  4. Cut dough into halves, then fourths, then eighths, like a pizza. Gently separate the scones about 1 inch from each other so they have room to bake on all sides.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, and then rotate your pan in the oven. Bake for another 12-15 minutes, until scones have started to brown. Move scones to a wire rack to cool, and then brush with melted ghee/butter.

Almond Flour Mixed-Berry Scones taste best right out of the oven—but if you want to heat up on the next day, pop them into a toaster oven (or conventional oven) to maintain that crisp exterior. If you heat them in the microwave, you’ll steam them and they’ll become mushier.

I will also be using these scones as a vessel for berry shortcake. Crumble it up in the bottom of a dish, add fresh berries, and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (this is my favorite kind). Everything is just a few steps away from being dessert, friends. Remember that.

 

 

Healthy Pineapple-Coconut Smoothie Recipe

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve looked up “Disney World reopen date” more than twice over the past three weeks. The warm May weather has me thinking about all things Florida, including that creamy Dole Whip pineapple ice cream situation that mocks me while I sit at home. Then, I start daydreaming about the beach, which leads me to think about sitting on the sand along 30A, clear blue and turquoise waters in front of me, and sipping something coconut.

To make up for land-locked Tennessee, I’m indulging those summer beach cravings the best way I know how—a frozen drink. This pineapple-coconut smoothie has only four ingredients and takes under four minutes to make. And, let’s be honest—if you stir in 1.5 oz. of coconut rum, you’ve got yourself a piña colada. I made this at 10 a.m., but I request all after-4 p.m. versions to include rum.

For the coconut milk: I choose to use the full-fat canned version from Trader Joe’s. You’ll get a thick creamy layer on top (if you keep in a cool spot) that is my preferred 1/3 cup addition to this smoothie. However—any coconut milk, including thinner versions, will work. If you choose a thinner version, you may want to throw in some ice cubes to thicken it up. Or, better yet, freeze that coconut milk into ice cubes and use those!

Healthy Pineapple-Coconut (Almost Colada) Smoothie

YOU’LL NEED
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 frozen banana

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Maybe add rum. As Tabitha Brown would say: That’s your business. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Each recipe makes two servings (about a cup each) at 175 calories or one big serving, like I recommend, at 350 (approximate) calories. NOTE: The calorie count goes down with the type of coconut milk you choose.

Sip sip hooray! (I know. It’s the piña talking.)

Ginger-Lemon Wellness Shots

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Shots! Shots! Shots!

When I first got a juicer, one of my friends said to me, “Trust me—the appeal will die down.” As it turns out, I’m a seasonal juicer. I will juice the heck out of some summer produce (lookin’ at you, watermelon) but can’t bring myself to juice in the winter—albeit, when it’s most needed. (This is the juicer I have, and it’s very easy to use.)

Now, more than ever, a strong immune system is vital to staying healthy (and keeping others healthy, in turn). I wanted to start taking a daily wellness shot—also called immunity shots—when I went into quarantine, but shots at the grocery store run $3-$5 apiece. With this recipe, you can make 30+ wellness shots at under $1 each. Sounds pretty good, right? If you invest in a juicer, you’ll save a lot in the long run. Plus, you’ll have a killer fresh watermelon margarita to share in the summer.

These shots contain six key ingredients: ginger, turmeric, apples, lemons, garlic, and cayenne. Here’s a quick run-down on the reasons:

  • Ginger is an anti-inflammatory LOADED with antioxidants. It lowers pretty much everything bad in your body.
  • Turmeric is also anti-inflammatory and is great for cognitive health and function. It boosts liver and thyroid function. This is a little harder to find at the grocery store, but I can usually find at Kroger. However, it’s much cheaper at your local international market!
  • Apples promote a healthy gut and, in this recipe, they’re lending the flavor that keeps these shots palatable.
  • Lemons are great for your skin—but they’re also incredible for your heart, blood pressure, and immune health.
  • Garlic is a long-loved, anti-inflammatory wellness ingredient. It improves cardiovascular health and boosts immunity. In lab tests, it even appears to kill cancer cells.
  • Cayenne lends a kick and aids in digestive health, pain relief, and lower blood pressure.

One thing to keep in mind when you’re making your shots is that turmeric stains. It is potent and wonderful for you, but it’ll stain your countertops, clothing, metal sinks—anything it can touch. For this reason, be extra cautious as you juice your turmeric. If a little gets on the counter (it does for me every time) you can clean it up with some Comet.

Ginger-Lemon Wellness Shots

2 lbs. fresh ginger (I use 7-8 large pieces)
1 lbs. fresh turmeric
3 lbs. apples (I use gala)
2 lbs. lemons
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)

Juice ginger, turmeric, apples, lemons*, and garlic. Whisk juices together in a pitcher, and then add ground cayenne. Keep mixture refrigerated in a sealed container or pour into individual 2-oz. glass bottles. If you’re not using individual bottles to keep your shots in, drink 2 oz. of wellness shot liquid (about 1/4 cup).

*I have recently started peeling my lemons before juicing them to make it a little easier on my juicer.

You can take shots every day. I even take two-a-days when I’m feeling extra vulnerable. The mixture has kept for two weeks for me, but if you make a lot and feel like you won’t be able to drink it all, just pop it in the freezer in a container where it has room to expand a bit. Then, simply thaw when you need more shots.

To good health!