Basil, Zuc­chini, and Pis­ta­chio Pesto

Natural Solutions - - Food Matters -

While many peo­ple are dis­cov­er­ing they have food al­ler­gies, oth­ers opt for mean­ing­ful carbs and skip the ex­tra fat in most dairy. Re­gard­less of the rea­son, a life­long diet that avoids dairy and gluten can be one of the keys to nour­ish­ing our bod­ies. How? It elim­i­nates the temp­ta­tion to eat at fast food restau­rants, dine out and en­joy freshly baked bread with whipped but­ter, par­take in fried chicken or cala­mari, or in­dulge in dessert. The gluten- and dairy-free life nat­u­rally moves us away from con­sum­ing foods that we should gen­er­ally avoid for life­long health.

The lan­guage of food al­ler­gies and di­ets tends to fo­cus on re­stric­tion from in­dulging in foods we love. This ap­proach to the lan­guage of food in­fuses our own per­cep­tions of what we eat, and per­haps we are more likely to break di­ets or eat what we know we phys­i­cally shouldn’t. The truth is, it’s hard to go through life with­out Bur­rata or Camem­bert, but if th­ese in­gre­di­ents make us sick or com­pro­mise our health, we need to 1 zuc­chini 1¼ cups roasted pis­ta­chios 2 cups basil leaves, thinly sliced 3 lemons 3 cloves of gar­lic 1¼ cups ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil Pinch of black pep­per Pinch of red pep­per flakes Salt, to taste A squeeze of lemon juice, to taste be­gin to imag­ine the lus­cious­ness of ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil coat­ing our crispy broc­coli rather than the gluey, melted cheese run­ning down our toasted sour­dough. Since I’ve been dairy- and gluten-free, I haven’t felt re­stricted in my in­take of food, and I’ve never re­ally thought about ‘not get­ting enough.’ Here’s how I thrive gluten- and dairy-free: A diet rich in olive oil has long been pro­moted by the med­i­cal com­mu­nity for its pos­i­tive role in the pre­ven­tion of heart dis­ease and can­cer. Be­sides its health ben­e­fits, olive oil pro­vides the same fatty rich­ness as cheese, with­out the gut-split­ting heft. Ex­plor­ing the world of olive oils can be just as re­ward­ing as tast­ing the var­i­ous cheeses that dif­fer­ent re­gions of­fer. Cold-pressed un­fil­tered Ar­be­quino, Si­cil­ian ex­tra-vir­gin, mis­sion olive oil, and ex­tra-vir­gin Fran­toio—the Pre­heat the oven to 350 de­grees. Wash and dice the zuc­chini, toss it in a driz­zle of olive oil, and add a pinch each of salt, black pep­per, and red pep­per flakes. Roast the zuc­chini for about 12 to 15 min­utes or un­til it’s just done (it should still be firm). While the zuc­chini is roast­ing, prep the other in­gre­di­ents. Wash and zest the lemons. Chop the lemon zest. Peel and crush the gar­lic cloves. Place the pis­ta­chios in a food pro­ces­sor and process them un­til they are finely chopped, so small bits of the nuts are still vis­i­ble. Put the chopped pis­ta­chios in a stain­less steel bowl. Take the zuc­chini out of the oven to cool. Wash and dry the basil leaves, and put them in the food pro­ces­sor with the olive oil. Process the basil un­til smooth. Once the zuc­chini is cooled, place all of the in­gre­di­ents into the bowl (lemon zest, crushed gar­lic, pis­ta­chios, puréed basil, zuc­chini, salt). Let the in­gre­di­ents min­gle for about 30 min­utes be­fore serv­ing. Right be­fore serv­ing the pesto, squeeze a lit­tle fresh lemon juice into the mix­ture, stir it well, and add salt, to taste. op­tions are nu­mer­ous. Sa­vor the fatty mouth-feel that each va­ri­ety brings, and try dif­fer­ent types on a wide range of dishes. Driz­zle olive oil over rice crack­ers, on top of soups and gluten­free pasta, on meats, over eggs, or in be­tween lightly cooked leaves of chard.

Re­place cream or but­ter­heavy sauces with sal­sas and veg­etable purées.

Most dishes that we as­so­ciate with cream and but­ter de­serve an up­grade. While roasted chicken or fish with beurre blanc, steak with com­pound but­ters (an­chovy, herb) or beurre rouge, and lasagna with béchamel, mac­a­roni and cheese, and fet­tuc­cini al­fredo are all de­li­cious and have be­come a part of our din­ner op­tions for a rea­son, why not en­joy the feel­ing of in­dul­gence and re­tain op­ti­mum health at the same time? By us­ing fresh veg­eta­bles, nuts, and herbs with an olive-oil base, th­ese dishes can be trans­formed into heal­ing foods that nour­ish.

Plan Ahead

To be able to sur­vive on the glu­te­nand dairy-free life­style, plan ahead be­cause fast-food and sand­wich shops gen­er­ally only sell items packed with gluten and laced with cheese. While it takes some plan­ning to nav­i­gate the meal and snack path, plan­ning meals helps us skip im­pul­sive food pur­chases like chips, fried chicken, and chili cheese dogs. More of­ten than not, if you have al­ready taken the time to pre­pare healthy snacks and meals for on-the-go mo­ments, it’s harder to in­dulge in junk food. While the oc­ca­sional quar­ter-pound burger with ba­con and cheese will not hurt, over the course of a life­time, con­sis­tently eat­ing fast food can have a se­verely neg­a­tive im­pact on health.

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