Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Cherry Caprese Pasta Salad! Sweet and savory pasta salad. Vegetarian and easily vegan.
Summer might be my favorite produce season; I practically turn into a fruitatarian from May until September eating my body weight in fresh picked berries, melons, stone fruits and sweet juicy cherries. We’re lucky enough to live close to a few pick-your-own farms which means I take Vander almost weekly to grab more peaches and berries. I’m so glad that both my kids have the same affinity for fruit as I do. Vander and Emery would rather eat fruit than most things this time of year, exactly like their mama.
It was after a large cherry haul that I came up with this simple salad recipe. I love the addition of fruit in my pastas or any savory meal for that matter. My rainbow berry salad is one of my favorite lunches this time of year, as is my savory peach salad. Therefore, I knew that sweet cherries would pair perfectly in this pasta salad along with whole grain rotini, juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh picked basil and mozzarella cubes. For a dairy-free version, sub in vegan mozzarella or omit all together.
I (politely) roll my eyes at those who say that fruit is bad for you; a classic misunderstanding fueled by terrible magazine headlines and ill-informed social media stars. Yes, fruit contains fructose– it also contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In fact, there is something called the fruit obesity paradox which is the concept that those who eat more fruit tend to weigh less– the opposite of any obnoxious, incorrect ‘fruit will make you fat’ fears. The micronutrients in fruits alter obesity pathways and the fiber content of fruit helps with overall satiety.
Additionally, cherries contain a potent flavonoid called anthocyanin, which have been shown to interfere with pathways that can help in the prevention of heart disease. The polyphenols in cherries also appear to minimize or prevent oxidative stress, a risk factor in development of chronic diseases like arthritis and hypertension. Consuming cherries was found to decrease plasma concentrations of 8 biomarkers associated with inflammatory diseases.
I know you don’t need reasons to eat more fruit, but it can’t hurt to be reminded that fruit is incredibly nourishing for you and there’s really no need to limit consumption. I know I don’t!
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Cherry Caprese Pasta Salad for all your summer potluck needs. Fresh cherries, tomatoes, whole grain pasta, basil and mozzarella balls.
For vegan version, I like Miyokos mozzarella, you can cube and roll into little balls for a more “authentic” look.