Low-carb, vegan spaghetti & meatballs

 

Project Meal Prep | Low carb, vegan spaghetti and meatballs

I rarely come up with my own recipes.

I have a habit of browsing through other people’s recipes just for fun, and so most of what I do is just follow recipes.

Also, I have a desk job that makes me use my brain a lot, so I don’t have a lot of time and energy to recipe test (but I wish I did!)

Tonight I had a rare moment where I actually came up with this dinner on my own AND it tastes really good, so I had to post it immediately.

I love this recipe because it’s:

  • low carb
  • has at least 15 grams of protein (if you use the Gardein meatballs)
  • you can make it in like 20 minutes
  • it tastes delicious and is totally satisfying

The pesto sauce totally makes up for the lack of effort otherwise on the sauce.

BEHOLD: Low-carb, vegan spaghetti and meatballs! Which are really zoodles and meatless balls.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 zucchinis (preferably organic, because pesticides + you’re eating the skin), spiralized
  • 6 frozen meatless meatballs (I used these Gardein ones)
  • 1 can or carton of tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon pesto
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt

In a medium pot, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 minced clove of garlic at the same time (so the garlic flavor is infused into the oil).

Let the garlic sizzle for a minute or two, then add the tomato sauce and pesto. Mix to combine and bring to a simmer.

Add the frozen meatballs and simmer for another 10-12 minutes. Add salt to taste if needed.

In the meantime, heat up a pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the remaining garlic again (same method). Let the garlic sizzle for a minute or two, then add the spiralized zucchini. Sautee for 3 minutes or until the zoodles are as soft as you like.

Once the sauce and meatballs have done simmering, divide the zoodles onto two plates and top with sauce (you might not use it all) and 3 meatballs.

I hope you make it and love it!

Check out my tiny handful of other recipes:

3 stupidly easy, no-frills ways to make vegan chocolate pudding

An introductory green smoothie

Not Coco-Roons (coconut-y dessert recipe)

3 different things you can make with just bananas and oatmeal/

Asian jackfruit tacos

 

Book Review: Real Food / Fake Food

Project Meal Prep | Real Food / Fake Food

I just finished reading this book called Real Food / Fake Food. Even though much of the book covers non-vegan food, I still found it completely eye-opening and recommend it to everyone in North America who is at all concerned about what they’re eating.

Each chapter is dedicated to one type of food that is commonly “faked”: olive oil, truffle oil, Champagne, wine, coffee, tea, honey, cheese, beef, and fish. Faking a food could mean cutting it with cheaper ingredients (eg. mixing high fructose corn syrup in with honey) or completely substituting the item with something else, because it’s difficult to tell the difference (eg. adding random weeds into tea leaves or oregano).

I didn’t really think much about the business of food until I realized how big your profit margins will be if you sell someone an expensive bottle of “truffle oil” that’s actually just olive oil with flavorings. In some cases, the stuff it’s replaced with is actually a health danger.

Danger and inflated prices aside, some people may not care that the Champagne they’re drinking is not authentic, because it tastes fine. The author argues that selling a lower-quality fake food product tarnishes the reputation of the real thing. It also discounts generations of families who have dedicated their lives to perfecting the creation of Champagne (or whatever), and all the quality assurance effort of the governing organizations.

Some fascinating things I learned:

  • In Europe, many foods have VERY strict rules around what can be in them, how they must be produced, and where they can come from. These foods also have certifications by different European organizations.
  • Certain types of fish served even at fancy restaurants have high rates of being fraudulent. In some cases, they are even replaced with a cheaper type of fish that causes health problems.
  • Truffle oil is overrated and almost never real. It’s usually another type of oil mixed with a chemical compound that resembles truffles.
  • The concept of terroir, which describes the combination of a specific climate, ecosystem, landscape, etc. of a place on Earth that allows it to produce the best of some type of food.
  • Champagne apparently tastes best with fried, salty food, like french fries (I have to try this sometime).

The takeaways from the book on how to avoid fake food are to:

a. read the ingredients when buying food at the grocery store, and
b. cook more, so you know what is really in your food

After reading this, I’m starting to look more closely at labels on food. Today, I was buying tomato sauce at the grocery store, and I checked all the cans to see if there was one from Italy, not because I’m suspicious of American tomato sauce, I just wanted to try one that’s been made with many strict rules and regulations around quality, to see if it is any better.

I did find one brand (this one), and the cans were sitting on the very bottom shelf at Whole Foods. It had two seals of approval, indicating that these tomatoes did come from Italy and were made using traditional methods.

I looked it up afterward and found that San Marzano is THE place to get canned tomatoes in Italy (read more here). And ya, they have been faked (for example).

I haven’t tried the sauce yet but I’m hoping it’ll be good.

Clean & cool summer snacks

Project Meal Prep | Clean, cool, vegan summer snacks
Photo by robbplusjessie

I’m still in Toronto and there’s been a heat wave warning for this week. Today and tomorrow, we’ll reach a high of 34 C / 93.2 F!

I’ve been seeking relief by staying in my sister’s basement and working from air conditioned coffee shops. However, my boyfriend’s car’s A/C is broken, so sitting in traffic is the worst. The fan and the A/C can’t work at the same time, so you have to turn the A/C on for a few seconds, then switch to the fan so cold air blows out. Then after 3 seconds, there’s no more cold air so you have to start over again.

Anyway…!

If you’re doing a lot of backyard grilling and going to summer BBQs, you might be looking for something a little more interesting, healthy but still vegan to eat. I feel like people usually do grilled veggies (which can get boring), chips & salsa (not so waist-friendly) and non-vegan ice cream (none for me).

Here are some super easy, fruit and veggie-based summer party snacks to mix it up. Each thing takes like 2 seconds of effort to make, which is nice because it’s too hot to deal with anything complicated.

Watermelon slushie

This drink is so refreshing and full of watermelon-y goodness.

  • 1 seedless watermelon
  • maple syrup to taste (optional)
  1. Cut the watermelon into chunks and freeze for 8 hours or overnight
  2. Put the chunks into a blender with as much maple syrup as you like, and blend until smooth
  3. Pour into glasses and drink through a straw

Mango dip

This is a sweet, refreshing, low-carb alternative to the usual chips and guac or chips and salsa.

  • 3 ripe Manila mangos
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  1. Slice each mango into thirds, with the middle section being the seed.
  2. Cut a grid onto the outer thirds, then flip inside out and slice off the cubes that stick out.
  3. Put the mango cubes into a food processor and blend until smooth
  4. Pull the leaves off the Romaine and dip into the pureed mango

Grilled peaches

Millions of peaches, peaches for me!

  • peaches
  • a couple dashes of cinnamon (optional)
  1. Run a knife through the middle of each peach, going around the pit
  2. Pull each half apart and remove the pit
  3. Grill until slightly charred
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon

Grilled pineapple

You could also do this over a fire when camping!

  • 1 pineapple
  • lime juice, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  1. Slice off the outside of the pineapple, then cut into 8 long wedges
  2. Remove the core from each wedge
  3. Grill until slightly charred
  4. Add a little lime juice, salt, and cayenne on each wedge

Coconut water popsicles

These are full of electrolytes and natural sweetness, unlike many store-bought popsicles that are filled with high-fructose corn syrup (!!). Since the frozen coconut water is clear, you can see all the pretty fruits, too.

  • 1 can or bottle of pure coconut water
  • assorted frozen or fresh fruits, such as kiwi, strawberries, mango, pineapple, and blueberries.
  1. Chop the frozen fruit into pieces that will fit into a popsicle mold
  2. Fill the molds with as much fruit as you like. You might have to press some of the fruit onto the sides of the mold so they don’t all clump together at the bottom.
  3. Fill the remaining empty space in the molds with coconut water
  4. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight

Meal Prep Sunday – Week of July 31

DINING IN TOKYO

I didn’t do a proper meal prep this week because I’m travelling and knew I was going to be having meals with other people, so this will be more like a recap of what I ate.

Project Meal Prep | Vegan red velvet cake

I mentioned last week that there were some birthdays and I ordered a vegan red velvet cake. I think everyone liked it, despite knowing it was vegan (I wasn’t able to keep it a secret!)

Project Meal Prep | Penne Arrabbiata

We also went out for dinner to an Italian place for my boyfriend’s birthday. I ordered penne arrabiata, which is penne in a spicy tomato sauce with olives and red chili peppers, cooked in olive oil. It was so good, especially because I love pasta and rarely have it. I ate half of the serving (which was plenty), a trick I learned from The Skinny Confidential.

Project Meal Prep | Pumpkin overnight oats

For breakfast throughout the week, I made overnight oats mixed with canned pumpkin, cinnamon, and walnuts.

Project Meal Prep | Brussels with beefless tips

When I went grocery shopping, I bought a lot of broccoli, brussels sprouts, avocados, Gardein Beefless Tips, and a box of meatless Vegetarian Breaded Chicken strips that I ate throughout the week.

This plate has half a bag of the Beefless Tips, half a small avocado, and brussels sprouts. I pan fried the brussels in olive oil, sprinkled them with garlic salt & chili flakes, and squeezed lemon on them.

Brussels sprouts seem so boring, but the lemon + garlic salt + chili flakes combo makes it so good.

Project Meal Prep | Fruit party tray

I also found a party tray of cut fruit at the store that was 50% off (so $5 CAD) and snacked on that.

Project Meal Prep | Grilled veggiesProject Meal Prep | Grilled veggies

One night, I had dinner at my sister’s place and she grilled a crap load of vegetables: zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and portobello mushrooms. I brought some marinated tofu as well.

Project Meal Prep | Vegetable stir fry mix

On Friday night, we took a trip a few hours outside of Toronto to visit some relatives. I didn’t have time to cook, and I didn’t wanna be all up in their kitchen cooking, so this is what I made…

Project Meal Prep | Veggies & tofu

… I bought a container of cut up veggies meant for stir frying, but I just ate them raw. I also got a package of Soyganic Smoked Tofu, which I simply microwaved. It’s already so flavorful that you can eat it just like that! I threw some guac & pesto on the side, and it made for a really, really, REALLY fast and convenient meal that only requires a microwave.

Salvaging a bland meal

How to salvage a bland meal | Project Meal Prep

Sometimes I make healthy dishes that end up being incredibly bland, or after a few days I start to get sick of eating the same thing. Here are some of my favorite healthy ways to jazz up my food:

lemon juice. I love the flavor combo of something acidic with something salty. Lemon is a great, calorie-free way to brighten up a lot of foods.

shredded vegan cheese. A little sprinkle of cheese goes a long way to adding a little saltiness and creaminess to your meal. I love it melted on tofu scrambles and burrito bowls.

minced garlic. Garlic salt is also a nice alternative if you don’t feel like getting out the garlic press.

hot sauce. Adding a heat makes food a little more interesting. You can also try adding cayenne pepper or chili flakes! Lemon + minced garlic + salt + chili flakes are a really yummy combo.

Himalayan pink salt / sea salt. Himalayan pink salt is supposed to have minerals in it that regular salt doesn’t, but it’s questionable whether the amount is actually significant or not. Either way, a tiny sprinkle of salt is usually a good idea, just don’t overdo it.

liquid aminos. It’s made from soybeans and tastes kinda like tamari or soy sauce, but it has a bunch of amino acids in it. I like this one because it comes in a spray bottle, so you can get a good, evenly-distributed amount with just one spray.

avocado. Sometimes when a meal is really dry, I mash up 1/2 or 1/4 of an avocado with lemon and mix it in with the food. I find that it can make something that’s bordering on unappetizing become really delicious.

What kind of things do YOU like to add??