Wow! Meatless Mondays, here we come! I must say that it is a huge honor to be a part of the new Meatless Monday blog here at Whole Living, let alone kick things off. I’ve been playing in the kitchen to come up with fast, delicious vegetarian delights for all (and getting to devour the results is not so bad!). Cutting back on meat consumption is not only a smart idea for our health, but also the health of the planet. It's exciting to join this movement and I hope you’ll jump on the bandwagon!
To start things off, I whipped up a quick pasta dish that is packed with flavor and nutrition. It combines the velvety textures of sweet potatoes and tomatoes with garlicky kale—true comfort food that you can feel good about eating.
A word on pasta... Healthier pastas are everywhere now. You can probably find several varieties made with all sorts of different grains at your local grocery store. Beyond whole wheat, look for spelt, multigrain, or gluten-free varieties made with quinoa or brown rice.
I was skeptical myself when making the switch from regular pasta, but surprisingly, I really love the fuller taste and texture that comes from the higher fiber content. And as a bonus, any type of pasta you choose that is not made from refined flour alone will satisfy you sooner (translation: you’ll eat less!) and provide you with more of the phytonutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals you need to maintain good health.
Kale: Packs more nutritional punch per calorie than almost any other food on the planet. Seriously. It is crazy-loaded with vitamin K, an essential vitamin for preventing bone fractures, postmenopausal bone loss, calcification of your arteries, and it has even been shown to protect against liver and prostate cancer.
Sweet potatoes: An excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and a very good source of vitamin C, two powerful antioxidants that eliminate free radicals in the body. Sweet indeed.
Tomatoes: Contain high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been touted for its ability to prevent heart disease and cancer. Consume tomatoes and tomato products with healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts in order for your body to absorb the phytonutrient. We’ve got two out of three in this recipe!
Garlic: Has very powerful anti-bacterial and anti-microbial compounds that annihilate just about any nasty bug that’s decided to set up camp in your body. Also a very good source of immunity-boosting vitamin C (perfect for this time of year when we could all use a little help fighting off colds and flu).
Spaghetti with Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Garlicky Kale
Time: 20 minutes
1 small bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 8 to 10 stalks)
1 large sweet potato, cubed (about 3 cups, skin on)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz fiber-rich spaghetti, such as whole wheat, spelt, quinoa, or brown rice pasta
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Juice of ½ lemon
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1. Put a pot of well-salted water on to boil.
2. Prepare all veggies for cooking.
3. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add oil, a few pinches of sea salt and sweet potatoes. Cook, uncovered, without stirring, 5 minutes. Toss potatoes once, cover skillet with lid, and cook 5 minutes more .
5. Add garlic, kale, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Crush a few tomatoes on the bottom of the skillet so that their juices are released (this will help steam the kale). Cook just until the kale has wilted and turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. (Do not overcook!) Remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice over the vegetables. (Bonus: Lemon juice's vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from the kale.)
6. Toss cooked pasta with olive oil. Add sautéed vegetables and pine nuts and toss. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.
I hope that you all love this pasta dish as much as I do; even my carnivorous father came back for seconds! I couldn’t believe it. I am really looking forward to all the Meatless Monday recipes that are coming our way!
Sarah Britton is a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A certified nutritional practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.