Healthy Recipe Wednesday: Faux Pasta Chicken Pesto

This week’s recipe comes from “Eat Free: No Gluten. No Sugar. No Guilt” by Rhiannon Lawrence, which comes out this month. In her introduction she explains, “After having my baby in 2008, I struggled with hormonal imbalance, weight gain, and depression; basically, I was miserable and did not feel like myself.” After a series of tests she found out that she was pre-diabetic and had gluten sensitivities. With some other issues that her family was dealing with at the time, they decided to change their diet. After being disappointed by the gluten-free products available from the store, Rhiannon began experimenting to discover foods that would be healthy, gluten- and sugar-free, and DELICIOUS.

“This cookbook is an introduction to healthy eating options. All of my recipes are simple; you don’t have to be a chef to make them. Your entire family will love them, and I doubt anyone will even notice that they are lacking gluten or sugar.”

So I wanted to be really cool and actually make the dish before I told you about it. But as I looked through Rhiannon’s book, I realized that I don’t have all of the ingredients for ANY of her recipes in my kitchen right now. Guess that shows you the state of my kitchen (in my defense it’s a galley kitchen, so not much room) and the level of healthy eating we maintain.

That said here is what I would’ve made if I’d had the ingredients, partly because I like pesto and partly because I like the idea of substituting spaghetti squash for spaghetti. And once again you will get two recipes because she references one of her other recipes in this one.

Faux Pasta Chicken PestoHealthy Easy Dinner Recipe

1 large spaghetti squash

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup fresh basil

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or you can use extra firm tofu)

Basic Basil Pesto (see below) or your favorite pasta sauce

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

To roast squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash lengthwise in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on roasting pan filled with 1 inch of water. Roast at 375 for 40″“45 minutes until a fork can easily be inserted. Let cool slightly. Using large fork, remove squash “spaghetti” into large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, basil, sea salt, and pepper, and toss together. Divide squash equally among four plates.

Marinate chicken in pesto sauce for a minimum of 30 minutes while squash is roasting. Bake, covered, on greased baking dish with sauce marinade at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through and lightly browned. Let chicken cool slightly. Slice chicken diagonally into 1 inch slices and place on top of roasted “spaghetti.” Sprinkle with cheese and enjoy!

As promised here is the other recipe, sounds super easy:

Basic Basil Pesto

½ cup toasted raw almonds (I like almonds instead of pine nuts, but really any nuts will do)

1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

lemon””just a squirt

2 cloves of garlic

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Olive oil

Place raw almonds on baking sheet and broil in oven for 2″“3 minutes until browned but not burned. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, pulse toasted almonds in food processor until coarsely ground. Add basil, Parmesan, squirt of lemon, and garlic to a food processor and pulse to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and slowly drizzle olive oil in processor until desired consistency is reached. Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Pesto is a great go-to snack with veggies and rice crackers. Enjoy!