By Danielle Sharkey, a recent ASU Nutrition Student
It is time… to start eating for better health and longevity. In these modern days, we are starting to see a shift happening in the United States. People are starting to understand the importance of nutrition and are eager to learn and do more to be as healthy as possible. But, the road to a healthier you can be a rough and bumpy one. I have been through it myself. I grew up on the typical American diet that consisted of mac and cheese, burgers, pizza, Top-Ramen, processed snacks, and much more. It was not until college that I found my interest in nutrition and health foods. It is not easy switching from your typical highly-processed, junk food American diet to a new one that is full of fruits, veggies, lean protein meats, and fresh foods. I get constantly poked at by my family for my new clean diet. Them, along with many people, have this idea that nutritious health-promoting foods cannot taste good or be satisfying. That is why there is a lot of pushback to make the switch over to a healthier diet.
Well, I am here to tell you from personal experience, healthier food can be just as delicious and make you feel so much better than junk food! I have provided a couple plant-based recipes for you to try and enjoy. Hopefully, this may help sway you or your loved one’s opinions on a plant-based healthy diet.
Most people I know LOVE Caesar salads! They are creamy, filled with dairy, salt, and usually an animal protein is added into it. Now, just because it is a “salad” does not always mean it is healthy. Traditional Caesar dressing is known to be high in calories, fat, and sodium which in excess, can lead to health complications. Caesar dressing contains mayonnaise, eggs, hydrogenated oils, cheese, milk, and sometimes even corn syrup in store-bought bottles. BUT IT’S JUST SOO DELICIOUS! Trust me, I know. That is why I have created my own healthy Caesar salad with an easy at home dressing. The recipe is below.
Caesar Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas
Prep: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 23 Minutes
- Red Onion
- 1 15 oz can Chickpeas
- 1 ½ Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 ½-3 Tbsp Tandoori Masala spice blend
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium lemons (Juiced)
- 1-2 tbsp honey (depending on preference)
- 1 tsp Spicy Mustard
- 2 tsp Capers
- Hot water
- Preheat the oven to 375*F
- Peel apart garlic gloves. Take the skin off.
- Drain the chickpeas and add to a mixing bowl to toss with oil and seasonings.
- Cut red onion into slices and add oil, salt and pepper.
- Add chickpeas and onion to baking sheet… Bake for 20-23 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
- Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor, blender, or mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to your preference/taste.
- Cut up kale and add to large salad bowl along with the spinach.
- Mix in 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to greens. Massage with hands to soften the texture of the Kale and make it less butter. Then add dressing.
- Top with chickpeas and onions and serve! Delicious
Another huge part of the average American diet is, believe it or not, pasta! Italian restaurants are abundant in the beautiful melting pot we call the United States. Like many of my friends and family, I grew up having spaghetti, fettuccini, mac and cheese, and more!
White Wine Pasta + Brussel Sprouts & Mushrooms
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Sauce and Pasta:
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 ¾ Unsweetened macadamia nut milk (or cashew, soy, almond)
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 4 Tbsp Arrowroot Starch
- 4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- Sea Salt + Black Pepper to taste
- Vegan Parmesan ¼ cup
- pasta (10 oz), including the Gluten-free variety for those with celiac disease. I prefer to use lentil flour pasta but brown rice or quinoa flour pasta works as well!
- Chili flakes for topping (if wanted)
Brussel Sprouts and Mushrooms
- Handful of chopped mushrooms
- 16 oz halved Brussel sprouts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
(add a side salad if wanted)
- Chop Brussel sprouts in half if not already done
- Preheat oven to 395* and add the Brussel sprouts to the baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season to your preference.
- Add mushrooms to a separate baking sheet and drizzle oil and add seasoning to preferred taste. Mix them around.
- Boil a large pot of water and add salt.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add oil and garlic to sauté for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add the wine to the garlic. BE CAREFUL! Stir for a few minutes.
- Add arrowroot and milk and stir/whisk. Then, transfer to a food processor or blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend on high until creamy.
- Adjust and season as needed to taste.
- Transfer the sauce back to skillet and warm over low-med heat until slight boiling while stirring. When sauce thickens lower the heat and simmer until pasta is done cooking. If needs thinning, add more nut milk. If too thin, increase heat.
- Add mushrooms and Brussels to the oven. Cook for 15 minutes or less… pay attention to how they are looking.
- Add pasta to boiling water. Cook according to your brand choice and packaging!
- Drain pasta when cooked and add to the sauce. Add half of the Brussel sprouts and mushrooms and mix around.
- Top with the remaining veggies and vegan parmesan as wanted/needed for flavor. Enjoy!
I hope these couple of recipes can help persuade you and your loved ones to try some healthy alternatives. Eat well, live long, enjoy life. Much love everyone!