Starting The Clean 66 Plan with Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

There's a misconception out there that it only takes 21 days to break a bad habit/form a healthy habit. This was based on a study by Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon from the 1960s, which hypothesized that "it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” Yeah, that's where we get the idea that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit. A more current and realistic study by Phillippa Lally,  a health psychology researcher at University College London, actually shows that on average, it takes someone 66 days—two full months—to form a new habit.

That makes a lot more sense to me. I mean, since when is making a change easy and convenient? Two months is a long time. But it's realistic and when the goal is to make a lifestyle change, 2 months is no big deal.

So what is The Clean 66 Plan? It is something I came up with which is my version of the 21 or 30 day plans you hear so much about. Its premise is based on many concepts I have already covered this past year on my blog. Basically, it just entails cutting out the crap—sugar, alcohol, white carbs, and processed foods. And I am talking to myself just as much as I am talking to you. Just because a person is gluten-free and vegan, doesn't mean they eat healthy. And for the past 6 months I have to admit, my diet has not bee very clean. Soy ice cream, cookies, Diaya pizzas, potato chips, and my ultimate downfall—french fries. I want to get back on track. Because I feel better, I run better, and I look a hell of a lot better when I eat clean—all of which are important to me.

In my opinion and experience, diets do not work. And lose weight quick products don't work since you don't use them the rest of your life. Lifestyle changes are the only things that work. And how do you make a lifestyle change? Well, you start with trying to keep new habits and as we learned above, on average it takes 2 months to do this. So over the next 2 months I will show you what I mean with real food blogs to help you (and myself) make and maintain this change. Here are a few of my previous blogs to get you started:

10-Day Processed Sugar Detox Challenge

Weight Loss Woes: Making a Lifestyle Transformation

30 Days of Clean Eating

The 30 Days of Clean Eating was a 4 week series so make sure to check out all four weeks for great tips.

Limiting Processed Sugar

The Limiting Processed Sugar blog was a 3 week series, with great info on sugar and sugar alternatives in each week's blog.

Fruit Infused Water and Why You Should Kick the Diet Soda Habit

So what should you eat and what should you not eat? Refer to week 1 of the 30 Days of Clean Eating blog to help you get started. I will also expound on this over the next few months. Now let's cut the bullshit. Are you going to slip up? Of course you are. And are there going to be times when it just isn't realistic to eat super clean for a meal? You bet. But focus on eating this way 90% of the time and you will see and feel a difference. I know my 10% unclean diet will be used when I run (gu, electrolytes, white boiled potatoes, etc.) and on my birthday, which is in a few weeks. The rest of the time I am going to be working just as hard as you are to clean my diet back up!

To kick us off, here is an easy and filling recipe—Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with sundried tomatoes, olives, toasted pine nuts and my vegan walnut pesto recipe.

If you don't have a spiralizer yet, you don't know what you are missing! Veggie noodles are so fun. I know what you are thinking—seriously Alex, another kitchen gadget! Yes, another one. They are inexpensive and very easy to use. Here is a link to the one I bought last year:

And before we move on, you are going to need that food processor I have told you to invest in for the past year. I use mine at least a few times a week. Investing in the right tools can make a world of difference and actually save you money in the long run. Here is a link to mine:

Let's get started by making the pesto. In your food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

Pulse for about 15 seconds to chop everything up.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

Then, while it is processing, through the hole in the top, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process another 15 seconds or so to combine.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com
Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

And that's it; you are done with the pesto. Place in a small jar as it will keep in your refrigerator a week or so. Or spoon into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop the pesto cubes out of the trays and put into baggies to store in the freezer. This is an ideal way to enjoy pesto this winter when basil is expensive and hard to find.

Moving on to the zucchini noodles. Wash and chop the ends off your zucchinis. Following the instructions on your spiralizer, make your zucchini noodles.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com
Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com
Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

Toast your pine nuts next, being very careful to not burn (read instructions below). Now you can absolutely stop here and serve all this on the raw zucchini noodles. It will be delicious and fresh. Or you can cook your noodles al dente. To do so, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Throw in your zucchini noodles, sundried tomatoes (sulfur dioxide free if you can find), olives and red chili flakes. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not over cook these! I lean closer to a 1 minute cook time, as they will continue to cook when you remove from heat.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com
Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

Serve with a few dollops of my walnut pesto and the toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

I think you are going to be surprised how filling and flavorful this dish is.

Let's start a conversation about some of your favorite clean food recipes! Use the comment section below.

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. raw walnuts
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. cold pressed olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. course ground pepper

Directions:
Using a high powered food processor, pulse all of the ingredients, except the oil, for 15 seconds, scraping down the sides as needed. While it is processing, slowly pour in the oil through the top opening, blending for another15-20 seconds.

Keep in mind, a little bit goes a long way. Pesto is extremely concentrated and has a powerful, yet delicious, punch!

Serves 8.

Print the recipe!

Make a lifestyle change with The Clean 66 Plan - it actually takes around 66 days to form a new habit. Get started with my Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Walnut Pesto. Find this and more on the blog at www.fernsandpeonies.com

Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 medium sized zucchini
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped sundried tomatoes
1/4 c. olives
1/4 tsp. chili flakes (optional)

Garnish:
2 tbsp. vegan walnut pesto
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts for garnishing

Directions:
Make the vegan walnut pesto first. The recipe can be found on my website under main dishes.

Wash zucchini and chop off ends. Using a spiralizer, make your zucchini noodles.

In a small dry skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat. These toast extremely fast. Stay there, constantly moving and shaking the skillet for 30 seconds to a minute until they turn a light brown. Remove from heat immediately and continue to shake the skillet to cool.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini noodles, sundried tomatoes, olives and optional chili flakes. Cook for for 1 - 2 minutes, tossing continuously, until they are al dente. Do not over cook the noodles or they will turn to mush. Best to undercook as they will continue cooking when you remove from heat.

Immediately serve with my vegan walnut pesto and the toasted pine nuts.

This can also be made raw by not cooking the zucchini noodles.

Serves 2-4.

Print the recipe!