I’ve been on a real kick of treating my body in a healthy and kind way. That means feeding it good food that’s going to keep me going for the long haul, but not depriving myself of the wonderful experience of enjoying a delicious meal. Basically, I’m trying to not eat crap, but not just live on salads. (Although I am eating – and liking – a lot of salads these days.)
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It also means less meat, which is a real turnabout for this former carnivore. Cooking for my vegetarian children helped open my palate, but I’ll admit it has mostly been the research showing that a moderate Mediterranean style diet can lead to a longer, healthier life. This seems like the kind of eating I can stick with for the long haul and it’s obvious that I feel better when I eat better so I’m really making a lot of changes.
I was looking for a special recipe to try out and I came across this Skillet-Toasted Penne with Chicken Sausage from Cooking Light Magazine. I made a few changes to make a vegetarian version. It was amazingly delicious: creamy without cream, nutty and toasted, and good comfort food for a nice winter night, while light enough for a lovely spring supper. It also took forever. I started cooking it at 5:30 and we sat down for dinner at 7:30. So this isn’t something to whip together in 30 minutes after work. But it would make a lovely healthy Sunday night dinner or a Saturday night for guests when you’re showing off how you can be both a great cook and a healthy one too.
Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pasta; cook 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. (Note: I wanted a stronger toasted flavor so I cooked slightly longer – perhaps about 7 minutes or so.)
Remove pasta from pan.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and sausage substitute to pan; cook until browned. Remove sausage mixture from pan.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Return pasta to pan. Add stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is nearly absorbed before adding the next, stirring frequently.
Stir in sausage mixture, lemon juice, jalapeno pepper, and salt. Garnish with cheese and basil.
Nutrition Facts (from MyFitnessPal)
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16 g 24 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 12 %
Monounsaturated Fat 7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 2 mg 1 %
Sodium 1036 mg 43 %
Potassium 432 mg 12 %
Total Carbohydrate 58 g 19 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 13 %
Sugars 9 g
Protein 24 g 48 %
Vitamin A 16 %
Vitamin C 10 %
Calcium 14 %
Iron 9 %