By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America
If I had a dollar for every time Fettuccine Alfredo came up in a nutrition session with a client I would be a very wealthy woman. It seems to be the dish that is the ultimate counterpoint to healthy eating, the sin that must be confessed. That steamy bowl of rich creamy pasta is not sensible – it is evil, ridiculous, void of common sense, and completely and utterly delicious!
Unfortunately, one bowl piles in about a day’s worth of calories and fat. ONE BOWL has approximately 1200 calories and 75 grams of fat!
The original recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo was created nearly 100 years ago by a man named Alfredo di Lelio in Rome. He created the recipe to please his very pregnant wife who struggled with morning sickness. Butter, heavy cream, cheese, and pasta to the rescue!
This morning sickness cure can now be purchased jarred or frozen and is on nearly every Italian restaurant menu across the country. Fettuccine Alfredo is an indulgence that we tend to “indulge” in way too often.
Now you can have your Alfredo and eat it too. Just make it at home. The Abra Pimped way.
I have to say this recipe may be my greatest triumph. I will boast. I will be cocky. This one deserves it.
My version (get ready for this) has 120 calories per serving! That is a tenth of the original. Ridiculous! It also has 4 grams of fat compared to 75!! Seriously, I impressed myself here.
Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan? Don’t be scared, I almost shouldn’t have told you that. In order to achieve the ultra creamy texture of traditional Alfredo sauce most makeovers rely on ingredients like fat-free half-and-half or processed reduced-fat cheese. Have you ever stopped to think what could possibly be in fat-free half-and-half? A whole bunch of creepy, fake, chemically processed ingredients, that’s what. No thank you.
Just whole, clean real food ingredients here. Start by making a cashew cream, this will be your base for the vegan Alfredo sauce. Cashew cream is simply soaked cashews blended with equal parts water. Cashews will impart that guilt-inducing creamy affect but with heart-healthy fat rather than the saturated animal fat found in heavy cream.
Then add a big ‘ol head of roasted garlic to the cashew cream, for a boost of flavor and immunity (it’s cold and flu season y’all). Finally, in a saucepan combine white wine, vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you are not vegan), and the roasted garlic cashew cream. Saute until thick and creamy.
Here is where you are encouraged to play a little bit. I made this recipe using zucchini instead of pasta (slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin strips, pile the strips up and slice into fettuccine noodles.) I happen to love the taste of zucchini and wanted to see how far I could take the “pimping.” By all means, go ahead and make this with pasta. I just ask that you upgrade the quality of the pasta to a whole grain. Try quinoa pasta or kamut pasta, they are my favorites. Switching out the zucchini for pasta will increase the calories by about 150.
So go ahead, indulge in a bit of Alfredo. Just do so with my version, please.
Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1 head of garlic
1 tbsp. white wine
2 tbsp. vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 large zucchini
1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water for 1-2 hours. Drain and rinse. Combine cashews and 1 cup of water in high speed blender. Blend until smooth and it resembles thick heavy cream.
2. Season with a 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper.
3. Squeeze a head of roasted garlic into blender (full recipe for roasted garlic here). Blend until garlic is well incorporated.
4. To make zucchini noodles, choose a large thick zucchini. Slice lengthwise into thin strips. Pile strips on top of one another and slice into fettuccine thick “noodles.”
5. In a saucepan combine 2 tbsp. cashew cream, 1 tbsp. white wine, and 2 tbsp. vegetable stock. Simmer until thick. (This will be enough sauce for two bowls, increase as needed). If sauce becomes too thick, loosen it with more veggie stock, OR if you have made real pasta instead of zucchini noodles you can loosen the sauce with pasta water.
6. Toss zucchini noodles into sauce until heated through. Top with chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Do you have a recipe you would like me to “pimp” and makeover? Go on and leave a comment below; I would love to hear from you.
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