In honor of Earth Day (yesterday) and our beautiful planet I am kicking off a 3 week Meatless Monday recipe series. This week I am keeping it super simple with a 3-ingredient recipe you can have on the table in 20 minutes! Perfect for those hectic (meatless) Monday night dinners. Cheers!
I’ve been vegetarian for almost 5 years, well pescatarian; I will eat fish on occasion – mostly when I’m out to eat with no healthy vegetarian entrees. I’m not here to tell you to ditch eating meat or that it is wrong, but forgoing animal protein one day per week can make a huge difference in both your health and our environment. Here are just a few of the benefits to adopting a Meatless Monday:
For your health:
- Reduce heart disease and stroke – vegetables, fruits and grains have been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease so why not make them your focus once a week.
- Reduce risk of cancer – some studies have shown a link between red meat and certain cancers so practice moderation.
- Reduce risk of diabetes – research shows that plant-based diets or diets low in processed meat can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.
For our planet:
- Conserve water – the demand for water is much greater for livestock than vegetables and grains
- Reduce fuel consumption – “The meat industry uses so much energy to produce grain for livestock that if instead we used the grain to feed people following a vegetarian diet, it would be enough to feed about 840 million people.” 
Let’s talk food!
I don’t follow a gluten free diet, but my mom and my best friend are both celiac. There is a lot of hype around gluten free and a growing perception that gluten free equals healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. Be careful with GF (gluten free) products. Most GF products are packaged and packaged food is processed food. Also, it’s generally safe to assume that if a manufacturer has to remove one ingredient, i.e. wheat flour, they have to supplement with other additives (chemicals) to get to the right flavor and consistency.
I found Banza Chickpea Pasta at our local health food market, New Seasons, but you can also get them here. What I like best about Banza is the short list of ingredients and the amount of protein per serving – 14g in a 2oz serving!! Pasta packed with protein? Yes!
The second most important part to this simple healthy meal is a good spicy marinara. If you have the time and cooking skills to make your own marinara – do it! Fresh is always healthier than canned, but for this quick weeknight meal I get Mezzetta Spicy Marinara also at New Seasons, but you can get a 2-pack here.
Finally, a good vegetarian meal isn’t complete without a bright green veggie! In this recipe, kale is the star! Did you know kale can help increase collagen production in your skin? It does, and as a thirty-something-year-old-woman I need all the collagen production help I can get!
Let’s get cookin’!
1 box Banza Chickpea Shells
1 25oz jar spicy marinara
1 head of kale
- Boil water for pasta. Cook per instructions
- Remove stems from kale
- Add pasta when water begins to boil
- Heat live oil in pan and add kale, coating kale with olive oil and heat through
- Add spicy marinara and mix with kale
- Turn down heat, cover and simmer until kale is wilted and soft
- Drain pasta
- Mix pasta with kale marinara sauce and serve hot
If not vegan, add shredded parmesan cheese
Serve with side salad with aged balsamic that you can get here.
- Meatless Monday Movement – get information and recipes: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/
- Great read on how behaviors are effecting the planet: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/one-choice-we-make-every-day-is-driving-extinction-including-us/