Improvised vegan pasta dish, with and without pasta

After a recent trip to the supermarket, I enthusiastically made a pasta sauce with no-salt, organic, diced tomatoes from a can, along with garbanzo beans and some very nutritious vegetables. The sauce can be seen cooking in a large pan in the picture above. One can see bits of white and green bok choy and tiny cylinders of chopped asparagus. I always start by water-sauteeing any onion or garlic. The vegetables are added one by one after the tomatoes, so that they will all be done at the same time. I sometimes add frozen loose spinach and then cover to aid cooking.

Served in a bowl with pasta made from lentil flour purchased from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s internet site, here is how the final product looked.

On a subsequent day, I chopped and steamed the remainder of the asparagus to use instead of pasta as a base for my leftover sauce. I sprinkled on tangy nutritional yeast. Here is a picture:

Cooking ingredients in boiling tomatoes from a can is a low-temperature cooking technique that offers health benefits compared to baking. Moreover, nothing escapes from the pan during cooking. I reserve extra liquid from the can in bowls while I cook, so that my dish does not get too watery, resulting in a soupy mess. Often, I find that I can add nutritious tomato juice back in later on in the cooking process when I find that the pan is getting too dry.

The recipe is an example of the principles of the Fuhrman six-week plan, as I do it when cooking at home. All ingredients meet Dr. Fuhrman’s criterion of nutrient density, a way of thinking about plant-based nutrition. Divide a measure of micronutrients in a given amount of food by the number of calories, as in the formula N/C and you have it. Also, I have made sure to include variety of ingredients, another key principle: nothing but spinach is not great, as nutritious as spinach is! Also, I have leaned toward green vegetables a bit with the inclusion of bok choy and asparagus.  With the inclusion of lentil pasta and a few beans, I also have not missed legumes; they too are required each day in Furman’s six-week plan.

I am missing raw vegetables from this one dish; Furhman advises half raw and half cooked. I have also not included raw or frozen fruit, mushrooms, or raw nuts and seeds. The latter are required but limited. I haven’t bothered with a daily serving of whole-grain food, which is allowed but not required.  And, given limits, I ate this dish made from six-week-plan types of foods until I felt satiated. Finally, supplements needed by any vegan in my geographic location, which is far from the tropical sun, complete the picture. Also, my choice of canned ingredients  has allowed me to keep sodium to a minimum and to keep the dish partly organic.

The pasta is a bit expensive. I am a member of the site, giving me a discount. I make purchases in the form of large orders to avoid shipping charges. Health food stores and some supermarkets sell pasta made from a mixture of lentils and other legumes plus whole grain–a pretty healthy compromise for those not inclined to shop online.

Speaking of costs, here is a link to the magazine Chronogram‘s list of 20 spots to eat cheaply in the Hudson Valley, published earlier this month. It mentions three places and dishes in its “vegetarian” category!

One note as an afterthought: the six-week plan is in a chapter Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice and Beans and other post-industrial adaptations

Plant-food-oriented nutritional expert Dr. Joel Fuhrman recently posted a “Mexican cauliflower rice and beans” recipe to the Dr. Fuhrman website. The cauliflower in the dish is used as a substitute for the grain, in a way that is reminiscent of pasta made from squash and other vegetables in season this year.

As this site mentioned in this previous post, problems have been reported with arsenic in some rice and rice products, a byproduct of an industrialized world.  Dr. Fuhrman’s page for the recipe emphasizes the higher nutrient density afforded by the use of cauliflower instead of a grain, which is always an advantage of such substitutions. (The recipes on Fuhrman’s site are behind a pay wall; this page of consumer advice mentioned last time is not paywalled.)

I have been trying some vegan alternatives to rice-containing Mexican dishes at local restaurants. Various taco dishes that appear from  time to time on the specials board at Outdated: An Antique Cafe include crispy and delicious homemade Mexican corn tortillas rather than rice, while people wanting to try avoiding rice at the moment can order the vegan soup or various á la carte items–among other vegan non-rice-containing offerings–at the nonvegetarian Bubby’s Kitchen in Red Hook. (Some other Spanish-speaking countries also have a famous dish called a tortilla.)

Adaptations continue to an evolving situation.