One thing those following a healthy plant-based diet must know is the importance of reading labels carefully. Not only because food manufacturers sneak animal ingredients into the most surprising of places, but because labels often mislead you to believe unhealthy food is nutritious.
Take “soba” noodles for example. Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat, and synonymous with the popular noodle dish. The main reason for eating buckwheat–besides its fragrant aroma–is its exceptional nutrition (high protein, vitamins and minerals) and health benefits (protecting cardiovascular system and controlling blood sugar).
However, just like “whole-wheat” bread–which may contain as little as 5% whole-wheat flour–soba noodles typically contain less than half soba flour (some have practically none), instead using unhealthy white flour made from wheat.
Even in my neighborhood grocery in Tokyo–where there are over 15 kinds of soba noodles (both dry and fresh)–not a single one is 100% buckwheat. Only a couple even listed soba as the main ingredient, and of the two that did, one contained egg-whites of all things! Consequently, most so-called soba is little better than plain-old white pasta, and perhaps worse.
I was about to make our favorite pasta puttanesca the other night when it occurred to me that capers and olives aren’t exactly what you call fresh vegetables. I found string beans and celery in the refrigerator, made a quick trip to the store for bell peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. And–in no time–my quicky puttanesca pasta had morphed into ciambotta (Italian vegetable stew) pasta.
Many people use potatoes as starch in their ciambotta recipe, but I prefer mine over pasta, and I found a perfect match waiting in the pantry: whole wheat organic chioccole (large curvy tube pasta with ridges). Next, an online search proved I’m certainly not the first one to use capers and olives in their ciambotta. OK, I’m not original, but there’s safety in numbers!
As great as this dish was the first time, the following day I mixed the leftovers with Teese mozzarella (photo) and baked in a casserole pan for a bubbly-crispy and totally comforting late winter lunch. Continue reading →
Who can recall the carefree days of youth, when you never thought about counting calories or high-cholesterol?
With my Southern Italian roots, rich sauces like Alfredo or Carbonara sauce were not something on the menu at home, but I always looked forward to having them when visiting Little Italy.
Having learned cooking from my mother, I steered clear of preparing foods containing large amounts of cream, butter and eggs, long before becoming vegan. Thanks to the wonder of nutritional yeast (and pioneers like JoAnn Stepaniak), it’s easy to prepare a rich creamy Alfredo-style sauce that’s healthy, too! Continue reading →