September is the month of a new church year as everyone in the wellness industry is buzzing about how September is the new January. It seems ridiculous purely by measure of time and following secular holidays but there is truth to it.
Summer is fading but there is an optimistic joy and sense of renewal about September. We grow…whether we can see it or not. We go from preteen after school specials and grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (or grilled cheese dippers if you saw the viral recipe video on Facebook) to jetting to our favorite coffeeshops for a pumpkin spiced latte with our teenage camaraderie to living for quiet nights with a big bowl of pasta and a good movie in our twenties.
I’ve been there, done that as everyone should be able to experience the joy of being able to pull apart a grilled cheese sandwich fresh off the griddle, throw a few extra croutons in your tomato soup or to enjoy a latte to piling way too much pasta in your bowls. It’s the sauce! It’s the pasta! Sometimes, it’s both. Sometimes, you just want carbs.
I used to be all of the above. And now dear readers, you’re probably expecting that I either still am or have turned my back on my carby friends in favor of vegetables and cold pressed juices and we all hang out at Whole Foods on the weekends. Actually no, I’m not rich thanks.
While I still enjoy the occasional carbfest (I am woma-no, I am human hear me roar. Also probably never giving up New York pizza and bagels unless I’m forced), adjusting to a healthier diet changed me. For me, I became intrigued and discovered my love of cooking and baking in the kitchen. I became creative. I became more interested and aware of where my food comes from. And somewhere along the line this really weird thing happened where I started craving the stuff. Really? I’m a strange bird though.
As I am now in my early thirties, diet is crucial but it can be hard to stick to or find the right one. And you don’t have to be cash rich to go on a diet. As I used to eat a lot of whole grains, I tended to gravitate less from pasta which was an old standby at one point but wasn’t the healthiest. The Orthodox Gentleman and I have slowly been working health foods into our diet – my Mediterrerean diet and his low carb diet. We recently acquired a spiralizer that is good for peeling and slicing all sorts of vegetables. I began to stick with the basics of my comfort zone of spiralizing lots of zucchini…before the Orthodox Gentleman kindly suggested we try spaghetti squash one time. Or even to just try spaghetti squash.
I grumbled a bit. Going out of my comfort zone. “How do you spiralize such a huge, bulky vegetable?” and “But I don’t have 60-90 minutes to wait for the squash to roast before I can cut into it!” was some my previous retorts and harsh judgment calls over a sweet Autumn staple. It turns out the simple spaghetti squash could offer us a lot for pennies on the dollar.
Although I’m still trying to figure out spiralizing it, spaghetti squash is a satiating vegan and gluten-free way of cultivating a dish that can resemble pasta. On it’s own, it is an excellent source of antioxidants, potassium, fiber and folate and iron making it ideal for pregnant women but it bares the similar texture resemblance of angel hair noodles.
As I know human can not rely on noodles alone, you need to dress it up a bit. Take my lead. One of my personal favorites is this almost pad Thai version. I cooked some Asian style vegetables, added some vegan protein and dressed everything with a homemade peanut sauce. On it’s own without the sauce, you have an easy $10 dinner. Add the sauce and it will be a little more but so, so worth it if you can do it. Even better than takeaway. And ready in fifteen minutes if you roast your squash ahead of time.
Tofu or tempeh seems to be pretty typical go-to for vegan protein which is why I can’t go wrong with the Tofurky brand. I remember when Tofurky used to be just sausage and a few freezer packs of lunch meat. And that was fine and dandy but Tofurky has branched out lately. For this dish, I incorporated Tofurky’s Sesame Garlic Chick’n into the mix. Although not gluten free, Tofurky has other vegan protein options available that are gluten-free. Check them out!
The peanut sauce is a matter of whipping all of the ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk. Get it to a smooth consistency.
Thai Squash with Vegetables and Peanut Sauce (Vegan, Olive Oil Free, Gluten Free if omitting Tofurky Sesame Garlic Chick’n)
2 cups of spaghetti squash
1 cup of Asian vegetable medley (frozen) or a combination of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, washed
1/2 package of Tofurky Sesame Garlic Chik’n (not gluten-free, omit for concern)
crushed peanuts, for garnish
Peanut Sauce (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
1/4 cup of organic peanut butter
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/4 cup of true mirin or Japanese rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of honey
a dash of soy sauce (use tamari sauce of gluten-free)
3/4 tablespoon of fresh ginger
a dash of cayenne pepper
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place squash on a baking sheet for about an hour so squash is soft enough to slice into. When the squash is ready, slice open and remove the “meat” of the squash with a fork. Depending on how much you have, you can set aside how much you need and reserve the rest for later.
Make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a bowl and whisking them together to create a smooth consistency.
Prep the vegetables. If preparing them to eat raw, just wash them well and set aside. For cooking them, boil the vegetables in water. After they are boiled, turn off and drain the vegetables. Put some coconut oil in a pan, heat and add in Tofurky (if using) and vegetables and squash meat and stir to combine for several minutes. Optional garnish with Tofurky. Serve warm or chilled. I prefer both.
Cost of meal: $10
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