I love pesto. While the traditional recipe calls for basil and pine nuts, it’s versatility and adaptability to personal taste are evidenced by the numerous innovative versions out there. When I saw the recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto by Oh She Glows last week, I couldn’t pin it fast enough! Btw, how awesome is Pinterest! I don’t know why it took me SOO long to join!! I’ve been pinning like a maniac. Sure makes finding recipes a lot easier!
All her recipes are perfection and I usually follow them to the T. However, I did make a few adjustments of my own this time. I prefer spinach over basil in my pesto. And since I have an overflow of almonds, I decided to substitute them in place of walnuts. I also used dried sun-dried tomatoes instead of the oil-packed ones because that’s what I had on hand. Finally, I added chickpeas for extra protein.
I poured the pesto over both quinoa and whole-wheat fusilli pasta. They were both delicious. Tim actually preferred the fusilli pasta. He thought the spiral shape of the pasta trapped the sauce nicely. I will say, though, that for the quinoa, I liked the pesto a little bit thicker. For the fusilli pasta version, I added a little more water to the sauce to thin out the consistency.
Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Pesto Pasta
Yields: 1 1/2 cup
Ingredients for Pesto:
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup spinach, packed
- 1/4 cup chickpeas
- 7 sun-dried tomatoes (either oil-packed or dried) *
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 8-10 Tbs liquid from reconstituting tomatoes or water **
- 1/4 cup almonds
- s&p to taste
- 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
*If using dried tomatoes, soak in water for about 30 min until soft and pliable. Save the liquid, and use it instead of water.
** May need to add more or less depending on your preference of consistency.
- Drop garlic, spinach, and chickpeas into a food processor and give it a whirl.
- Add tomatoes, nutritional yeast, and liquid while drizzling in EVOO. Process until smooth.
- Pulse in the almonds and season with s&p to taste.
Now, I know that the color doesn’t look too appetizing, but don’t let that fool you! Looks can be deceiving.
Shrimp, avocado, quinoa with the pesto.
Chicken sausage, tomatoes, spinach whole-wheat pasta with the pesto.
Now that I’ve enticed you with this incredible pesto, let’s move onto discussing The Simply Bar Challenge that I participated in. The first time I heard of this product was through Brittany who couldn’t say enough good things about it! So I jumped at the opportunity when I saw on their Facebook page that they were looking for 20 participants who were interested in making the switch from their current protein bar and were willing to give detailed feedback in return for free samples.
I was sent 4 different flavors – Peanut Butter Chocolate, Lemon Coconut, Caramel Peanut, and Cinnamon Pecan. My favorite was Lemon Coconut! I loved the burst of lemon that hit me instantly followed by the unmistakeable coconut flavor. Heavenly..
For the longest time, my go-to protein bar has been Pure Protein (specifically the chocolate peanut caramel flavor). It has 20g of protein, 180 calories, 6g of fat (which is pretty good for a protein bar), 1g of sugar, and 1g of fiber. However, I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really look at the “could it be any longer?” ingredient list as carefully as I should have. I just looked at the amount of protein and fat and settled on it.
So how did TSB stack up? Let’s first look at the nutritional content – TSB has 16g of protein, 160 calories, 4g of fat, 3g of sugar, and 4g of fiber. Not only that, there are only 9 ingredients all of which I can recognize and pronounce. Although the sugar content is higher, it doesn’t contain any sugar alcohols, unlike the Pure Protein bar which has 11g. TSB is also gluten free, has a low glycemic index thereby preventing a spike in blood sugar level, and is vegan.
As for the taste, I stuck with Pure Protein as long as I did because it was the best tasting out of everything else I had tried. However, the hubby and I both agreed that it’s not something you can eat all at once. I don’t know about you, but I feel like all protein bars have this hmm..how do I describe this…protein-y taste (you know what I’m talking about, right? If not, I apologize for my lack of a better description), and paste-like consistency. Not so with TSB. The texture was very crispy and crunchy! And I had absolutely no problem devouring it in one sitting!
I tried the samples at different times of the day. While it was good as a pre-workout snack, I actually preferred eating it as a mid-afternoon snack. I usually get huge munchie cravings during that time of the day, and the bar really prevented me from making some regrettable choices.
Overall opinion? It’s def my new go-to protein bar! Move over Pure Protein. You have no place in my pantry anymore. Hello TSB! Please accompany me to my school or to work! I’ll give you lots of lovin’ .
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. My opinion of this product is completely my own.
Do you prefer spinach or basil when making pesto?
Have you tried The Simply Bar? What’s your favorite flavor? If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you give it a chance!