[Or for my Canadian friends, 'Flavours in Your Favour'!]
Food is not just a vessel for nutrients. It is a creative endeavor. A social experience. A means of connecting with the body, the planet, those with whom we eat.
Enjoying food doesn't mean we have to eat junk.
Eating healthfully doesn't mean we have to give up enjoying food.
It means we get to experience a whole other side of eating we may never have been exposed to. That was the biggest thing I noticed when I initially gave my food a makeover: I suddenly discovered a realm of healthy [and delicious!] options I'd never seen. Quinoa, goji berries, amaranth, tahini. It was pretty incredible what I found I could eat (and gave me reason not to miss miss all the things I had to do without). I was thrilled to find how many naturally delicious options exist, as well as how many fun ways there are to spice things up and recreate flavors of my favorites.
It makes sense that transitioning to any kind of new way of eating might create cravings for the foods we no longer eat (be that because of intolerance, ethics, or just general well-being). Luckily, the creativity factor means we can adapt healthier foods to resemble other tastes.
Take pasta: one of the toughest things to give up if you choose to reduce refined carbs and/ or cheese and/ or sugar.
Luckily, sauce + grain + cheese can all be redone in a healthier, super-simple dish. This recipe is the product of leftover quinoa and tomato paste and turned out to be a perfect, light meal at work. It will satisfy that craving for starch and zesty Italian food in one go: plus, the filling protein content of quinoa and low-sugar content won't wreak havoc on your system like standard saucy pasta.
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1. Combine quinoa with 2 cups cold water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until all water is absorbed (don't stir). Let sit for 10 minutes then fluff with fork.
- 2. In the meantime, combine tomato paste with 3/4 cup water, garlic powder, and onion powder. Whisk until combined.
- 3. Heat tomato sauce over medium heat until bubbling. Pour into pot of quinoa and stir to combine.
- 4. Divide onto four plates; top with vegan parmesan and salt and pepper.
- This dish is also terrific with some added greens: steam or sautee kale or spinach and stir into the mix before serving.
What's your favorite way to create healthier versions of dishes you love?
Just a sprinkle! Keep an eye out for the upcoming 'Seven Spicy Days': a week of posts on how to use spice to transform meals. Cook one batch of grains, one batch of beans, and one batch of greens and see how different combinations of spice will help create seven different meals.