Vegan 'Cheesy' Zucchini Pasta (Vegan + Gluten Free)

Gluten free zucchini noodle 'pasta' combines with onions and green pepper for a healthy, filling lunch. A tasty vegan sauce made of just two ingredients is packed with protein - and tastes just like cheese!

Have you ever had nutritional yeast?

Now, if you are legitimately terrified of the word 'yeast' and run away screaming every time you hear it, fret not - because SAME. Yeast is scary! It's alive! It's a source of incredibly uncomfortable infections! I FEEL ya.

However, yeast can be a great thing. Like, without yeast, we wouldn't have beer! Bread! Cinnamon Rolls! What on earth would mall-dwellers and airport-goers of this world do without their Cinnabon fix?! So yeah, maybe it's 2,000 calories, but that shit is delicious.

You know what else is delicious? CHEESE. But... cheese isn't vegan... and even though I've been consuming cheese and other dairy products at an alarming rate outside my home (see: more quesadillas than anyone should ever consume, over the span of a week), I prefer to keep my home cooking vegan. This is where nutritional yeas comes into play.

What on earth is nutritional yeast? Well, I'm so glad you asked! 'Nooch' (for the acquainted) is an inactive yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor, comes in a flaky/powdery form, and has a whole HOST of health benefits. Let's see here - for just 1/4 cup, you get:
- 60 calories
- 9 grams of complete protein
- 4 grams of fiber
- 790% daily value (DV) Vitamin B1
- 570% DV Vitamin B2
- 300% DV Vitamin B6
- 290% DV Vitamin B12

Holy EFF, y'all! Just as I'm typing that out I'm itching to get my booty to Whole Foods so I can grab a handful to sprinkle on my lunch. And that's not all! Nooch also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, preserves immune function, improves digestion, and promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails. Who wouldn't want that?!

This recipe makes 2 servings, each serving with a full 1/4 cup serving of nutritional yeast. And - the only other ingredients are vegetables and seasonings. HELLO, PORTAIT OF HEALTH. Almost enough to undo all the champagne-based damage I did to my body this weekend.

Almost.

Vegan 'Cheesy' Zucchini Pasta

To make this pasta, you will need:
- 2 medium zucchini, spiralized
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- Salt, pepper, and garlic, to taste

First, trim the top and bottom off of each zucchini and cut them in half. Using a medium blade on your spiralizer*, spiralize all four zucchini halves. Set aside.

*If you don't have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons.

Dice your onion and green pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add your olive oil. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the green pepper, zucchini noodles, and vegetable broth. Cover the pan with a lid and let cook 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables have begun to soften.

Add the nutritional yeast and spices to the pan, and stir until well-combined. The nutritional yeast will coat the vegetables in a creamy 'cheesy' sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, then serve!

This was a great make-ahead meal for lunches at work, light enough to avoid the 'post-lunch slump' but PACKED with protein, vegetables, and nutrients! Not to mention that it's delicious to boot. What more could you ask for?

XOXO,
Jess