“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – Michael Pollan
I realized that I haven’t posted a recipe in a while. It’s not like I haven’t been cooking though! Poor John, I’ve been trying out so many different vegetarian recipes lately in an effort to eat more of a plant-based diet. We enjoy eating chicken and fish, and we eat pork, lamb and beef from time to time, but there are so many benefits of eating a plant-based diet:
- Health benefits aside, cooking with pulses (ie. legumes, beans) is cheaper than buying meat. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Guelph Food Institute, “the average Canadian household will spend $8,631 on food in 2016, an increase of about $345 (1).” The solution? Eat more pulses and buy local. Experimenting with vegetarian versions of your favourite recipes and participating in a farm share or Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.), which “allows people to partner with a local farmer by pre-ordering a basket of vegetables to be delivered weekly through the harvest season (2)” is a great way to improve your health and save some money!
- Research has shown that a plant-based diet can prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Plant-based foods are low in saturated fat, which can lower blood pressure.
- Studies show that people who consume 7-11 servings of fruits & vegetables everyday are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
- Weight loss: a plant-based diet is generally lower in calories and unhealthy fats than a meat-filled diet. Maintaining a healthy weight is so important for overall good health.
- A plant-based diet means more fibre, which lowers bad LDL cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar; preventing diabetes and weight gain.
- We all know that the vitamin A found in orange fruits & veggies like carrots is important healthy eyes, but certain pigments in spinach, kiwi, grapes, kale, squash and corn may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Certain nutrients like the lycopene from tomatoes & watermelon and vitamin C in bell peppers can protect your skin from environmental damage and pre-mature aging (3).
Still not convinced? I won my husband over last weekend when I made him a vegetarian version of the classic favourite, Spaghetti Bolognese. Give this recipe a try, and I think I’ll have you convinced too.
Lentil and Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese
Adapted from Chatelaine
450 g or ½ package of whole-wheat spaghetti*
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil*
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 package sliced cremini mushrooms
3 peeled large carrots, diced small
2 peeled celery stalks, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 finely chopped large onion
1 cup red wine
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
156-mL can tomato paste
2, 540-mL cans green lentils, drained and rinsed (or cook dry lentils ahead of time)
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
1/4 cup chopped basil
Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water, following package directions but omitting salt, until tender, 7 to 8 min. Drain and return pasta to pot. Stir in 1-2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil to prevent from sticking.
Heat a very large non-stick frying pan over medium-high. Add olive oil, minced garlic and mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, pepper and onion. Cook until carrots begin to soften, 4 to 5 min. Stir in red wine and water, vegetable broth and tomato paste. Add green lentils. Boil until most of the liquid has evaporated but mixture is still saucy, about 15 min. Stir in parmesan until sauce is thickened.
Serve out 2 portions of pasta & sauce (approximately fist size pasta & 1 ½ cups sauce). Stir to coat. Sprinkle with parmesan and chopped basil. Reserve remaining bolognese sauce and freeze for another meal or lunch leftovers.
*Use roasted spaghetti squash in place of whole-wheat pasta to save calories
*I like to use EVOO when I cook pasta as it provides great flavour; if you purchase high quality, organic, extra virgin olive oil it’s safe for cooking.