Peanut Ginger Pasta

I know I’ve said this before – but this Thai-inspired noodle dish truly is one of our favorite recipes! It is super easy to make and tastes so fresh and full of flavor. It only takes about 30 minutes (or less) to make and serves 4 people. You may already have the ingredients in your fridge! I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine. They state that the nutritional value per serving is: 365 calories, 13 grams fat (2 sat.), 567 mg sodium, 57 grams carb., 10 grams fiber and 14 grams of protein.

Peanut Ginger Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tsp grated lime peel (finely grated)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger root (available in paste form in the produce section)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 8 oz. uncooked whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
  • 2 cups small fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the veggies as listed.
  2. Place the first 10 ingredients in a blender or food processor; cover and process until blended.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last 5 minutes. Drain.
  4. Transfer pasta and broccoli to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Add peanut butter mixture and toss to combine.
  5. Optional: serve with chopped peanuts as a topping.
Peanut Ginger Pasta
Give this colorful and delicious dish a try for Meatless Mondays - 
I think your family will enjoy it!

My First Attempt at Plant-Based Cooking

Penne & Veggies
Penne with Veggies 'N' Black Beans
Penne with Veggies ‘N’ Black Beans

When we decided to cut meat and dairy out of our diet I had to search through my existing cookbooks to find recipes. This one, Penne with Veggies ‘n’ Black Beans came from Taste of Homes’ Healthy Cooking Annual Recipes (2015). Since we had just become “empty nesters” I turned to the ‘Table for Two’ section and found a photo of a meal that looked appetizing and super simple to make.

Since it was June – all of the ingredients were in season and it did not require any special ingredients that were hard to find (except maybe the Nutritional Yeast – which is used as a substitute for the parmesan cheese).

Recipe for: Penne with Veggies ’n’ Black Beans

Estimated time to prepare: 25 minutes. Makes: 2 servings (double for 4)

Quick tip: use a bag of your favorite pre-cut frozen veggies if you are in a hurry.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of uncooked penne pasta (substitute with a bean pasta if gluten free)
  • 1/3 cup of sliced zucchini (about one medium)
  • 1/3 cup of sliced carrot (about 2)
  • 4 medium mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 small green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow or red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (I used minced garlic from a jar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each: dried basil, oregano & thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz can is ok)
  • 1/4 cup chopped seeded tomato (canned and drained is ok)
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan (substitute with Nutritional Yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté all the vegetables, garlic and seasonings in 1+ teaspoon of oil until tender-crisp. Stir in the beans.
  1. Drain pasta; add to vegetable mixture. Add tomato and remaining olive oil; toss gently. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (or Nutritional Yeast) and parsley.

Nutritional Info. Per serving:

  • 300 calories
  • 7 grams fat (2 g sat. Fat)
  • 4 mg cholesterol
  • 643 mg sodium
  • 47 g carb
  • 8 g fiber
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 2/12 starch, 1 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

You don’t eat no meat?

Featured

How many of you remember that hilarious line from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? And then her immediate reply – “That’s OK – I’ll make lamb.”  My husband and I have had that same question posed to us – maybe not as dramatically. In fact, I have asked many other vegetarian and vegan friends. Why would you want to cut meat out of your diet – and dairy too? That is just too extreme!

My reply may surprise most people. We just don’t want to die . . . prematurely that is. In June of 2017 my Physical Therapist husband said he wanted to share a video with me – that was sent as a link by his Physical Therapy Association. It was the introductory video by Dr. Greger on “How Not to Die” – showing studies of how diet can affect and even prevent certain diseases.

“How Not to Die” – written by Dr. Michael Greger, MD, FACLM 

A Wake Up Call

This was a wake-up call for both of us, because both sets of our parents had passed or where in the processes of dying from one of 4 major killers: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and Alzheimers disease. I had just had my DNA tested and it showed that I was at higher risk for two of these diseases! We were in our mid to late 50’s and ready to take action to slow down or maybe even prevent some of these diseases.

Where do we start?

The next question most people ask us is “Isn’t it hard to find and cook food that has no meat or dairy in it?” At first I would have said, yes! It took us a few months to get used to the new plant-based diet. In fact the first night we were “all in” we went out to celebrate our 25th anniversary with a dinner out. The waiter was nice enough to describe the special for the day: Prime Rib!! After such wonderful, mouth watering description we had to confess that we were vegan (which was not easy). Neither was finding vegan entrees as we traveled for a weekend get-away to a quaint little town in southern Indiana.

That same night we decided to check out Whole Foods and pick up a list of foods I had never heard of – taken from a newly purchased vegan cookbook for beginners (“But I Could Never Go Vegan!”). They nearly jumped up and down when we told them we were going vegan – and were more than happy to show us where to find the tofu, plant-based milk, miso, tahini and coconut oil (half of the stuff I rarely if ever used). I tried my best to prepare several of the entrees from the cookbook – but it was very difficult. Some of the stuff I had never heard of – and some of it was downright unappetizing.

I was determined not to give up, however. That Christmas I was given several vegan cookbooks and settled into using one more than any other, “The One Dish Vegan” by Robin Robertson. The ingredients were easy to find, they were not expensive and most dishes took only 30 – 40 minutes to cook. Every time we tried a new recipe we would rate it with 1 – 5 stars and then take a photo of it to reference later (her book did not have photos in it). This process made cooking so much easier and satisfying. In fact, my husband volunteered to do the cutting up of the veggies and I did the actual cooking – which made dinner prep so much more fun. We actually started to enjoy cooking together – which is a big deal for someone who used to hate cooking with a passion (me!).

One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson

Changes for the Better

Within weeks were feeling more energy than we had felt in years, were more regular then we had ever been and had several other unexpected side affects including less gas and constipation, less tarter on our teeth, improved eye-site (my prescription changed), far fewer hot-flashes for me, and we spent less on our food budget!  The most encouraging news, however, was that my bad cholesterol (LDL) numbers went down 28 points (from 106 to 78), and my total cholesterol dropped by 38 points (198 to 160)! I also lost about 5 pounds – but I am still working on increasing my physical activity (exercising 3 – 5 times a week). My husband actually lost 7 – 10 pounds too (is at the same weight he was in high school)!

That is why I decided to write this blog. I want to encourage others out there who are committed to improving their health and preventing disease through a healthier lifestyle including eating a plant-based diet. If your partner or family is not on board yet – I encourage you to start with just one vegan meal a week and don’t make a big deal about the meatless thing. Your family may be surprised by how delicious and satisfying these meals are.

I called this blog the “Practical Vegan” because I am very practical and I want meals that don’t take hours to cook, cost a lot, or include hard-to-find ingredients. I also may include a non-vegan ingredient occasionally like feta or greek yogurt – but those can be easily be substituted. I will only post recipes that I have actually made and will include photos. If you have questions or want me to try out a new recipe – please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Let food be thy Medicine and medicine by thy food. – Hippocrates, 460 B.C.

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