It's fall. We like warm food. We love pasta, but it sits in the belly like a bowl of glue. Three good reasons to make spaghetti squash a staple for dinner this season:
Chop the spaghetti squash in half, remove the seeds, and lay cut side-down in a pan with ½ inch of water. Throw it in the oven at 350° for 30-40 min until the flesh is soft and can be scraped out like spaghetti.
In the meantime, chop up and sautee an onion in a bit of water* until softened.
Add: marinara sauce (we blended 5 medium tomatoes with 2 garlic cloves on super low for a few seconds), herbs (dried or fresh; we used fresh oregano, basil, and parsley), optionals (we used a variety of sun-dried tomatoes plus olives), and sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Let simmer until flavors blend, 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
When squash is ready, scrape out the flesh and add it to your sauce. Reheat.
Top each bowl with a good dollop of raw olive oil and nutritional yeast.
*We prefer using water to sautee and to add olive oil after the heat is turned off—right before we eat—so we avoid eating cooked, rancid oils. More on that here.
Having quality mushrooms in your repertoire will add new dimensions to your vegan life. Savory and grounding, they give you that satisfied feeling that some seek when replacing meat. And having been used in natural medicine for thousands of years, we reap multiple rewards for having mushrooms in our diets—immunologically, neurologically, energetically, and even spiritually. Mushrooms are complex organisms—no roots, seeds, or leaves, they seem neither plant nor animal, but otherworldly.
The studies on each variety are deep and fascinating. Medicinal varieties are known to have a dual-directional "special intelligence" when it comes to their healing properties, an ability to "know" how they are needed in our bodies, for example, either to be stimulating to a weak immune system or to subdue an overactive nervous response. And with DNA 80% identical to our own, medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, maitake, and chaga are used very efficiently by our immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
David Wolfe and Paul Stamets are mycologists to follow to learn more about supplementing with medicinal mushrooms. General mushroom benefits include:
•Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, D.
•Quality (bio-available) essential amino acids (aka proteins).
•Iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorous, copper.
•Increased immunity against viruses, bacteria, pollution, and molds.
•Energy balancing, increased endurance. •Antioxidants, anti-cancer, anti-inflammation.
Okay, nutritionally beneficial, CHECK. Now on to eating and taste. I was recently craving something "meaty," but stood grossed out at the processed faux-meat selection at the store. I don't like single item foods that contain 1,000 ingredients. I waited out the craving and a few days later took a photo of this amazing mushroom bloom near a friend's house. That week, I found the same mushroom at the Hollywood Farmer's Market booth LA Funghi (did the universe bring it to me?! Is this the spiritual effects of mushrooms?!). It's called "Chicken of the Woods." WHOOOOAAAA. Check out that texture, right? We marinated it in a little olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and mustard, and sauteed it in a bit of water. Craving 100% satisfied.
It's in season, so it's a staple in our fridge right now. Last night, I made a chicken-of-the-woods noodle soup:
A google search for "gourmet mushrooms" and your zip code will find you the real "mycophiles" in your hood. And your local grocer will carry at least brown and white caps or portobellos (great for grilling and sandwhiches) and shiitake (easy addition to miso soups). Pick only the ones that look fresh and free from wet spots and mold. You can even buy grow-at-home kits now.
Happy eating, happy living!
New to veganism? Make sure you don't burn out on sugar, carbs, and soy by using this basic shopping list as a guide at the grocery store. Starred items should be staples:
Greens need to be a significantportion of your diet for fiber, iron, calcium, detox, and alkalinity. Start with these, and try eating 2 salads a day:
-kale (especially dino and curly)
-romaine (counts as a deep green!)
-parsley or cilantro
OILS & GOOD FATS:
You NEED good fats. They carry 9 cal/g while proteins and carbs have 4. This means sustained energy, plus hormone support, and essential nutrients.
-organic, cold-pressed olive oil
-organic, cold-pressed flax/hemp oil
-raw nuts & seeds (almonds, cashews, sunflower, pumpkin)
-avocado (eat as many as you want a day)
Sweet, non-sweet, and fatty fruits—with seeds is best. Seedless = hybridized.
-olives (sundried best, not in a can)
-cacao (raw chocolate: look for powder, nibs, or whole beans)
-tomatoes -cucumber -all berries (don't forget dried goji berries)
apples -oranges, grapefruit (and eat your citrus seeds, too!)
-hemp (seeds, powder; contains essential fatty acids; sprinkle on salads or blend in smoothies)
-hummus (so many kinds! Become a connoiseur)
-raw almond butter-*raw nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, pumpkin, sunflower)
CARBS (when buying carbs, look for sprouted grain breads or tortillas, sometimes in the cold section):
-Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas (best toasty...we spin/flip ours over our stove's open flame, ready in seconds to be filled with hummus, greens, olive oil, and sea salt)
-Ezekiel sprouted grain bread (so many kinds)
-rice (brown is more nutritious, but also more glutenous than basmati white)
You may as well start now! These are essential for building good bacteria in the gut, especially B12. Find these in the cold section:
-raw sauerkraut (throw in a nori wrap with avocado, Vegenaise, greens, and salt!)
-Bio-K non-dairy "yogurt" (expensive, but do it once in a while)
-coconut kefir (all you need is a TBS/day)
SWEETS & SWEETENERS:
-dark chocolate bars
-Nutritional yeast (great for B12. Use like you would parmesan, or in salads and soups for that extra hearty flavor. We put this on everything)
-Braggs Aminos (every health food store has it. Savory salty flavor; easiest salad dressing: olive oil, Braggs, nutritional yeast)
-Himalayan sea salt (very important investment. See why)
-Tofutti (non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese; original flavor is our fave)
-Daiya cheese (best tasting, and NO dairy/soy! Made from cassava root...and it melts!)
-rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk
Start with at least one of the following:
-spirulina powder (we like Pure Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica in salads and smoothies)
-chlorella tablets (if our 6 y.o. likes to chew these for fun, you can certainly handle it, or put them in a smoothie)
-pick a protein: scoop of almond butter/almonds/cashews/hemp
-big spoonful cacao powder
-pick a green(s): spirulina/chlorella/mint/parsley
-sweetener: agave or dates -ice...and BLEND!
-toasted Ezekiel tortilla with hummus, greens, and sprinkled with olive oil, nutritional yeast, spirulina, and sea salt
-kale salad (recipe here) topped with tomato and cucumber
-Apples and almond butter
-Avocado and sea salt
-Goji/cashew/cacao bean trail mix
-Cucumber and sea salt
-Quinoa with chopped parsley/green onions, olive oil, braggs, garlic
-Romaine salad with a dollop of dijon, olive oil, sea salt, and agave