'Tis officially spring! Spring is an excellent time for gentle cleansing. And it's always in season to take care of your heart. This dish is a great way to do both. Seasonal and organic vegetables that are green in hue are very supportive for the heart and cardiovascular system, as well as for the Anahata, or heart chakra.
Dress up these spring veggies with a little vegan pesto and you've got yourself a tasty side dish or base for a meal. The combination possibilities are endless, but I like to use spring-savvy veggies like asparagus, spinach, and peas, with zucchini, chard, or kale. You can also add organic (NON-GMO!) shelled edamame if you're looking for a vegetable-based protein boost.
Help your heart and body adjust to the new season with this delicious dish. Enjoy!
For the Sauté:
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, "tripped" and chopped into 1" slices
1 cup spinach
*Optional: 1 cup green peas, 1 cup chopped kale or chard
For the Pesto:
3 Tbs. cold pressed olive oil
1 Small handful fresh basil
2-3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 clove roasted garlic, or 1 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbs. toasted piñon (or pine) nuts
.5 Drop basil essential oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the olive oil and basil leaves in a mini-food processor. Blend for about 10 seconds.
Dip a toothpick into the bottle of basil essential oil and stir into the basil/olive oil mixture.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until roughly mixed (it's ok to have a few chunks...has a more rustic taste and feel this way).
Drizzle in more olive oil and blend if you'd like your pesto to be thinner. Then set aside while preparing sauté.
Heat medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive or coconut oil (DON'T HEAT TO THE POINT OF SMOKING!).
Add the bigger veggies (like asparagus and zucchini) to the pan and allow to sauté until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes).
Add the leafy vegetables and stir together. Allow to cook for a couple more minutes until the leaves are tender.
Add to a bowl and toss with pesto mixture. Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
Asparagus: Asparagus is packed with vitamins K and A, as well as iron and folate. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and abounds with antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.
Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.
Basil Essential Oil: Basil has powerful anti-infectious, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. It can be used to boost alertness and concentration, ease anxiety, nervous depression, headaches, mental fatigue, and insomnia. See here to learn more about doTerra essential oils.
Kale: Kale is a powerful green which has been proven to help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of various types of cancer including bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. It has powerful detoxifying properties and is an excellent source of vitamins C, K, and A. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.
Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a staple source of protein, particularly for vegans and vegetarians. It is one of the few non-animal sources of B-12, is rich in folic acid and other nutrients and amino acids. Nutritional yeast is free of the Candida Albicans strain, making it safe for those concerned with candida. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.
Peas: Green peas are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, large amounts of manganese, and are high in dietary fiber. They're high in protien and are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Yum! See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.
Pine Nuts: Pinenuts are excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folate. They also contain healthy amounts of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information. Many suggest that soaking nuts (and grains, legumes, and seeds) before consuming them enhances their nutritional quality.
Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K (think blood builder/purifier!), vitamins A, C, B2 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Popeye apparently knew how to protect himself against inflammatory problems and oxidative stress-related issues, while promoting his cardiovascular and bone health. AND he got the girl! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.
Zucchini: Excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, and is a good source of vitamin A. Summer squash also retains its nutrients when eaten raw, lightly steamed, and/or frozen. And make sure to eat the seeds! Summer squash seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids which are helpful in the prevention of inflammation. The seeds are also thought to contain anti-microbial properties and are still used in some parts of the world to treat intestinal parasites. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.