I'm a goal-oriented person. Most people would say "poo-poo" to setting New Year's Resolutions, but I LOVE setting new goals, no matter the time of year!  I embrace challenges and get very competitive with myself.  There's something SO satisfying about checking something off a list, amiright?

This year, I am doing the 2017 Tone It Up Challenge, which is a 6-week fitness and health challenge. Just 6 weeks!  That's doable, right? The hope is that after 6 weeks, eating well (not as hard for me), and exercising (way hard for me) will become part of my every day routine!

For those who don't know about Tone It Up, it includes a meal plan for its members. I am mostly following the meal plan, but sometimes I like to make some other dishes myself. Hence, the Full-of-Greens Pea Pesto and Chickpea Pasta (that's a mouthful!).

 

Let's talk about this pasta for a minute. I've tried all kinds of healthy pasta alternatives (black bean pasta, quinoa pasta, brown rice pasta, etc.) and none of them have the texture of REAL pasta.  I've discovered Banza pasta, which is made entirely out of chickpeas! That means PROTEIN!  I also added broccoli and peas to my pasta, but you could certain add your own mix of veggies (zucchini would be delicious!).

 

FULL-OF-GREENS PEA PESTO AND CHICKPEA PASTA

Makes ~6-8 servings

PESTO INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 16 oz. bag of frozen peas - thawed, 1 cup reserved for pesto
  • 1 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, packed
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts (or toasted for more flavor)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

PASTA INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box Banza pasta (or other 8 oz. box of GF pasta)
  • ~4 cups broccoli florets (I used 1 12oz. pack from Trader Joe's)
  • Remaining peas from the 16oz. bag of frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Thaw the frozen peas by placing in a bowl of hot water.  Drain once thawed.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. 
  3. While water is boiling, combine all pesto ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until thoroughly incorporated. If it a little "dry", you can add a drizzle of olive oil, or to keep it healthy, add a small splash of water.
  4. Optional: add salt, lemon, or EVOO to taste. For a TIU approved version, just add more lemon as needed, but avoid the salt and EVOO.
  5. When pasta is finished, drain. Pour back into saucepan and add the pesto.
  6. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes.
  7. Add 3 cups water to a small or medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil. 
  8. Use a steamer insert.  Add broccoli florets to the steamer and cover for about 4-5 minutes until you can easily pierce broccoli stems with a fork and it still has its bright-green color.
  9. Add broccoli and remaining peas to the pasta. Toss to combine.
  10. Serve with extra sun-dried tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon, or some chopped parsley.

GET CREATIVE!

  • Sub chickpea pasta for raw zoodles! Add some shredded chicken for protein (~4-6 oz. per serving) since you won't be getting protein from the pasta
  • Sub broccoli for zucchini. Slice 2 zucchinis. Sauté in a pan with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil and a yummy no-salt seasoning.
  • For less fat, omit the pine nuts and add an extra 1 tbsp nutritional yeast.  It'll change the nuttiness of the pesto, but it'll still be tasty!
  • For a creamier pesto, add 1/2 of a ripe avocado into the food processor when making the pesto.
  • THE COMBINATIONS ARE ENDLESS! ;)