How is the end of February already in sight…weren’t we just ringing in 2017?? It’s been a particularly productive month for me. I attribute much of that to goal-setting. Rather than loosely have goals floating around in my head, I actually wrote them down typed them out at the start of the month. After identifying various categories in my life, I listed out every single goal I wanted to achieve, both big and small. One of my smaller fitness-related goals included ‘Cook at least 4 new vegan meals’.
I’ve mentioned it in the past but I am a creature of a habit, especially with my diet. I tend to rotate around the same 4-5 meals until I can no longer fathom the thought. As much as I was enjoying my meal rota, the aims of this goal were to motivate me to step out of my comfort zone and also expand my culinary skills.
I’m pleased to say I will be ticking that goal off before the end of February, both successfully & enjoyably. I know many people dread the thought of cooking but I personally find it rather therapeutic…at least when I’m in the mood. With 3 new recipes already made, ticking off the 4th one will be a piece of cake…which might just be what I dabble my hand at. One of my triumphs was this Vegan Mac and Cheez:
Although I am not a full-time vegan eater, eating a diet rich in plant-based meals has really been suiting me lately. Like any normal person, I love cheese but try not to eat it on a regular basis. One pantry staple which has been a huge help in that department is nutritional yeast. This is a decent alternative to cheese when you’re looking to add a cheesy flavour to your meals without the dairy. It’s also a great source of plant-based B vitamins and protein. Now going back to this Vegan Mac and Cheez. Obviously the nutritional yeast helps in the flavour department but for creaminess? None other than beta carotene-rich pumpkin. Seriously guys don’t knock it till you try it…which I highly recommend you do ASAP! I am almost certain that even the pickiest of eaters will be licking the bowl clean- I may or may not have 😉 .
Vegan Mac and Cheez – Serves 2
- 100g wholemeal pasta
- 3 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic gloves, diced
- 400g pumpkin* – peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano (dried or fresh) + extra for garnish
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast **
- Freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
- In the meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 teaspoons of oil.
- Once heated, add in the onion & garlic and sauté lightly. Once fragrant, add in the pumpkin. Continue sautéing for 4-5 minutes.
- Pour over the vegetable broth and oregano. Reduce heat to low. Cover & simmer for 12-15 minutes until the pumpkin has softened and the liquid has reduced to almost half.
- Remove skillet from heat. Once slightly cooled, transfer skillet contents to a blender and add in the nutritional yeast. Puree until smooth, then season with salt & black pepper.
- Place the same skillet over medium heat and coat with the remaining oil. Add in the mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add in the cooked pasta and pumpkin sauce. Stir until the pasta & mushrooms are well-coated with the sauce.
- Transfer mac and cheez to a bowl and garnish with oregano. If desired, top with extra salt, black pepper and/or nutritional yeast.
*If pumpkin is not available, replace with equal amounts of squash (e.g. butternut or kabocha).
**If you eat dairy, feel free to replace the nutritional yeast with equal amounts of cheese (for an authentic taste, use a sharp variety like cheddar or parmesan).
What’s your favorite pasta dish? When it’s on a menu, I can rarely resist lobster linguine (extra marinara sauce & parmesan please).
What’s your favorite cheese? Tough call but I’d say feta!