Special Diet - Created Date : 12.6.2019

A blog about nutrition, fitness, and goal setting strategies to help y...

A blog about nutrition, fitness, and goal setting strategies to help y...

A blog about nutrition, fitness, and goal setting strategies to help you live your happiest, most fulfilled life.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Mushrooms and Chickpeas

I try not to talk too much about the weather on the blog because I think it’s a topic that everyone – especially us Canadians – discuss a LOT. But today I have to tell you about the weather in Vancouver as of late because it’s been quite amusing.

For a bit of background, one of the many reasons I moved here was because of the mild winters. I know hate is a strong word and I don’t use it often, but can genuinely say that I hate the cold. My goal therefore, was to move to the warmest location possible while still being in Canada. We have beautiful mountains covered in snow which I can see by standing outside of my apartment and by looking out my office window. On the mainland it’s generally mild and we don’t have to deal with much more than a bit of frost in the mornings. It’s my kind of winter – snow to look at from a distance, but none to shovel.

Rain is the norm here during the months when it snows throughout the rest of the country, so Vancouverites are pretty accustomed to carrying umbrellas absolutely everywhere. When leaving the house, the daily default thought process sounds something like, “Phone? Check. Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Umbrella? Check.” Sometimes it rains for so many consecutive days that it’s a total shock to walk outside, push up one’s umbrella and realize that there is, in fact, nothing falling from the sky. But those novel occasions have been few and far between this fall.

Last week we had weather warnings from Environment Canada about in-land snowfall. Granted there were only a couple of centimeters expected, but for a city and population that is far from equipped to handle anything beyond rain, this was big news. Roads were blocked off, the streets and bridges were riddled with accidents, local universities closed and from what I heard, transit was a bit of a mess. I spotted someone using a plastic bag as a makeshift snow brush, and plenty of people turned to their trusty umbrellas as the snow shield of choice. To their credit, while at first I thought this was ridiculous, I now think it’s perfectly valid. Vancouver snow is more like a frosty shower and sitting at work in soaking clothes isn’t much fun.

This whole experience has made me realize how quickly my definition of ‘winter’ has changed. I don’t think it’s been much colder than about -8C but I’ve already been sporting the same down-filled parka that defended me through several sub-minus 20 degree snowstorms of winters past in Ontario. Yep, I’m a wuss, and I don’t think I’d stand a chance in a proper Canadian winter any more!

Regardless of whether you’re experiencing Vancouver cold, Ontario cold, or any other kind, I’ve got a delicious warm dinner recipe to share. It involves warm zucchini noodles, sauteed mushrooms, chickpeas and super flavour-packed pesto, and as far as weeknight dinners go, it’s definitely one I look forward to on my drive home from work.

While basil is still a key ingredient, this pesto is different to the traditional kind. I’ve swapped hemp seeds in for pine nuts because they’re mild in flavour, have a great ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and are a fantastic alternative for anyone with nut allergies. This dish is brought to you by the colour green, and in the midst of the celebratory, often over-indulgent holiday season, it could be just what your body needs for a quick and easy re-boot.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Mushrooms and Chickpeas

by Angela Simpson

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 9 mins

Ingredients (2 servings)

For the hemp seed and kale pesto:

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 cups chopped curly kale, tough stems removed

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 tsp sea salt

For the rest:

3-4 tbsp pesto (above)

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 large zucchinis, spiralized

2 tbsp minced fresh parsley


Make the pesto: Puree all ingredients in the food processor until smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor down as needed. Portion out 3-4 tbsp and store the rest in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze in ice cube trays.

Mist a frying pan with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat for 1 minute.

Whisk the pesto and balsamic vinegar around in the pan for 1 minute, or until the pesto starts to thin out a bit.

Mix in the mushrooms, chickpeas and red onion, stirring occasionally to coat.

After 2 minutes of cooking add the zucchini noodles and half of the parsley. Stir again, and continue stirring occasionally for 4-5 more minutes or until completely warm throughout. (Avoid overcooking as the zucchini noodles will start to release too much water – you want them to be warm and tender, but not wilty.)

Divide between 2 dishes and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Season with a dash of freshly ground pepper if desired before serving.

So tell me…

Are you escaping to any warm, sunny vacation spots to escape the cold this winter?

Angela Simpson

My name is Angela and I've got a fiery passion for turning fresh, healthy ingredients into delicious mouth-watering meals. I love veggies, seafood, avocados, and exploring all things wellness in Los Angeles, the city I'm now proud to call home.

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I’m Angela, and I’m so glad you stopped by! If you’re looking for healthy, delicious food, heart-pumping workouts, and inspiration for all things holistic wellness, you’re in the right spot. Have a look around, or learn more about me here.

The Best Healthy Fast Food Options

Fast-food stores are plentiful and fast food has the reputation of being unhealthy, while an increasing number of large chains are adding more nutritious options to their menus.

Sockets that allow more customization of orders tend to have lower calorie or more feeder selections. However, there are currently healthy options on the menu of the largest fast-food chains.

In this article, we'll look at the overall calorie, fat and saturated fat content to find some of the healthiest options that seven big fast-food chains have to offer.

Note, however, that calories and fat are only two aspects of how healthy a meal is fed. If a person eats only fast food, it is not possible to get the necessary nutrients such as vitamins and fiber.

1. Subway

Sandwich with cheese and vegetables

One person can customize Subway sandwiches to choose healthy fillings.

Metro specialize in deli style sandwiches or "sub". As a person can customize every "sub", Subway can be one of the healthiest healthy fast-food chains.

Some of the best sandwich options are on the Subway's Fresh Fit menu. The 6-inch Turkey Breast sandwich with nine wheat bread contains 250 calories and 3 grams of fat, including 0.5 g of saturated fat.

A healthy vegetarian option, Veggie Delite in nine wheat bread. This "bottom" contains only 2 g calories, does not contain 2 g total fat and saturated fat. It also has one of the lowest sodium levels (salt) compared to other sandwiches.

Subway also offers salads that can be a low-calorie alternative to a sandwich. All salads include lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, onions, cucumbers, green peppers and olives.

Fast food and diabetes: Tips and options

Fast food and diabetes: Tips and options

Are you having trouble finding a fast-food option for living with diabetes and occasional treatment? We can help you.

2. Taco Bell

Taco Bell is another great fast-food chain with a variety of healthy options. The ability to personalize each order allows people to choose more vegetable-like nutrients.

According to Taco Bell's website, three-quarters of its menus are under 500 calories. Some of the lowest calorie options are the Fresco menu, which uses regular sauce and cheese instead of vegetable based salsa.

One of the healthiest options is Chicken Soft Taco. Each taco contains about 170 calories, 8 g fat, containing only 3 g of saturated fat.

Bean Burrito is a vegetarian option containing 11 g fat, 380 calories, including 4 g of saturated fat.

3. Chipotle

Vegetable burritos

Vegetarian options are lower in fat than meat options.

Chipotle is a Mexican-style chain that specializes in tacos and burritos. Similar to Subway and Taco Bell, Chipotle allows people to customize their meals to include healthy choices.

Healthy options are burritos or white rice instead of white rice. In a chicken bowl bowl containing fresh tomato salsa and brown rice, there are 415 calories, 13 g fat and 4 g saturated fat.

For a lower calorie, vegetarian option, people can choose a plate of bean curd, brown rice and a sofritas patty with lettuce. It contains 365 calories, 10 g fat and 1.5 g saturated fat. Adding sauce will increase the number of calories.

4. McDonald's

McDonald's had the reputation of being unhealthy, but they recently reaffirmed themselves to offer a variety of fresh and nutritious ingredients. Some of these changes may be cosmetics, while McDonald's has better options.

Fillet-O-Fish contains 390 calories and 4 g of saturated fat from 19 g of total fat. Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad contains only 320 calories and 6 g of saturated fat from a total of 14 g.

5. Burger King

Burger King is one of the largest burger chains in the United States, but has a limited number of healthy options. But some choices are a little healthier than others.

It contains a normal, simple hamburger, 10 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, and 240 calories. Grilled Chicken Sandwich contains 470 calories, 3.5 g saturated fat and 19 g fat.

BK Veggie Burger can be a healthier option among these examples. Contains 2,5 g of saturated fat, 390 calories and 17 g of fat.

6. Wendy

Baked potato with knife, sour cream and cheese filling on plate

Baked potatoes can be a healthy fast-food option.

Wendy is another common fast-food chain that allows people to personalize their orders to make their choices healthier.

The menu of the chain is not abundant in healthy options, but some meals are able to customize to lower the calorie content.

Salads are also available, and if a person chooses some of the half-size salad choices, they can stay below 500 calories.

With a few vegetarian options at Wendy's, Sour Cream and Chive Baked Potatoes

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