This twist on pesto pasta includes 9 different plants for gut and brain health

This veggie-loaded twist on a classic comfort meal will make a big dent in your weekly plant intake. 

No matter your mood, the weather or your schedule, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of garlicky, herby pesto. Rather than opt for the store-bought stuff poured over fibre-less white pasta, try this speedy, veggie-packed recipe for all the light comforts of your favourite meal plus the added benefit of a tonne of plants. Nine, to be precise. 

That’s because five-a-day is no longer the goal, and research suggests we should actually be aiming for 30-a-week. In fact, those who hit that target have been shown to have a more diverse range of gut bacteria than those who eat 10 or fewer a week. More gut diversity equals better brain function, greater production of serotonin and dopamine, and a happy digestive system. 

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Plus, this makes for the perfect meal to support your winter workouts. Protein is found in the buckwheat – or soba – noodles, pistachios and peas for a meat-free way to support your muscles. It’s a recipe for strength in body and mind.

Buckwheat noodles with creamy pea, kale and basil sauce recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4


40g shelled pistachio nuts

50g curly kale leaves, central stem removed and shredded

120g frozen peas, defrosted

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

2 tbsp olive oil

40g Parmesan cheese, finely grated or 30g nutritional yeast

30g basil leaves

400g soba (buckwheat) noodles

Pinch of black pepper

Buckwheat noodles with pesto recipe


  1. Toast the pistachio nuts in a hot, dry frying pan until they are just beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and roughly chop ready to sprinkle over the finished dish.
  2. Boil the peas in a large pan for six minutes. Add the shredded kale to the water during the last 3 minutes of cooking. The kale needs to wilt and become tender but should not be overcooked. Drain the peas and kale and return the cooking water to the saucepan.
  3. Make the sauce by placing half the cooked peas and kale, crushed garlic, Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, olive oil, half of the lemon juice and three tablespoons of cooking water into a blender.
  4. Blitz the sauce for 30 seconds until smooth. At this point taste the sauce and adjust the flavour, adding a little more lemon juice, Parmesan cheese or cooking water for a smooth consistency.
  5. Return the sauce to a small saucepan, adding the reserved peas and kale, and keep warm over a very low heat.
  6. Cook the noodles by grinding with cold water, then add to the water used to cook the vegetables once bought up to boiling. Cook for five minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles briefly under cold water to rinse off the starch which can cause the noodles to stick together. Quickly dip the washed noodles in a bowl of boiling hot water to reheat and drain once again.
  7. Divide the hot noodles between four warmed bowls and pour over the green sauce.
  8. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts, any reserved grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, lemon zest and a pinch of black pepper.

Recipe courtesy of Dr Joan Ransley for Love Your Gut. 

Check out the rest of our recipes, workout tips and challenges in the Strong Women Training Club library.

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