Noodles make me happy! For years they've been either a go-to quick, simple meal or as elaborate and multi-layered a meal as my imagination can dream and my kitchen ingredients can provide.
There are as many different kinds of noodles as there are stars in the sky, I'm pretty sure! They run the gamut of shape, size, texture, flavor, nutritional value and cooking time, but I have yet to run across one that I don't fall deeply in love with and immediately daydream about our future together and all the places we'll travel! Yes, I said travel! Depending on the sauce, herbs and spices used, noodles can be a passport on the end of your fork to exotic lands, in addition to contributing to the amazing and wild healthfulness we're all seeking! Noodles are a blank canvas ready to receive the artistic brush stroke of your creativity! No recipe necessary, although there are zillions!
When it comes to being somewhat of a noodle collector, I'm guilty as charged! Spying a noodle type I've never tried, I have to have it, and since many of them are dried versus fresh, I know it can sit in my pantry until my cooking muse nudges me toward that particular canvas. Most packaged noodles are also inexpensive and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion at hand! We've been to potlucks and fancy parties, tailgates and trade shows, celebrations and conferences, gifts-giving's and gatherings, but most often we spend quality time on the couch watching reruns of Frasier after a long day! The beauty of the noodle is that they are equally enjoyable hot, cold or lukewarm and many cook in three minutes, just enough time to toss together a flavor packed, speedy sauce and dig in or twirl on!
I realize we are talking health plus adventures here and while many noodles are vastly superior in nutritional value than others, select according to your goals, tastes and zest for the extraordinary! One day I may fancy a straight up white angel hair pasta (with quick peanut sauce, one of my all-time faves!), and another day it may be a higher-fiber edamame or lentil pasta or spaghetti squash, carrot or zucchini noodles. Back to the stars in the sky...there are many options and no rules for that matter, when it comes to noodles! So feel free to dream on wildly!
Once a noodle choice is made, the next decision is how to dress up those simple strands of scrumptiousness! Since embracing the power of plants for health and longevity, I began increasing the "vegetable to noodle" ratio. Where once upon a time I would indulge in an embarrassingly huge bowl of only capellini noodles swimming in peanut sauce, I now nuke a bag of frozen broccoli and add that in as well. Still quick, easy and delicious, but higher in fiber, vitamins and more colorful, as one of the keys to good health is considering, and adding, the nutritional rainbow! Any colorful fresh or frozen veggies, herbs, beans, peas or lentils tossed in, will amp up the nutritional value and make you feel even more like a rockstar artist in the noodle creativity department! Once I started doing that, I felt satisfied sooner and ended up having leftovers to enjoy later! Winning!
Just so you know, there are ways to make a noodle dish creamy without cream, and cheesy without cheese, to add yet another creative twist on your healthful, amazing and wildly delicious meals! It's as important to consider what you leave out of your healthy noodle creations, as what you add in . I leave out cheese, dairy and oils of any kind to celebrate a lower-fat, veggie filled, fiber-bomb of a noodle dish that I know will be full of nutrients, delicious, and wildly adventurous to my taste buds!
This past week, I enlisted my trusty angel hair noodles and added some frozen artichoke hearts and green peas, boxed baby greens and fresh basil. I grated my frozen lemon over it (right through the whole thing, skin, pits and all). For the sauce I blended a can of white beans, plant milk, nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor), and vinegar until creamy, although it would have been great with a store-bought, jarred marinara sauce or can of diced tomatoes, as well! Wild tip: I blend up jars of plant-based, wildly creamy sauces weekly (as well as simple dressings) to have on-hand for when a creamy craving strikes and as a base for other spiced-up sauce creations! You can use this Irresistible White Bean Dip recipe and thin it out with the noodle water for the sauce! YUM!
Another zippy dish I whipped together this week, started with buckwheat (soba) noodles, which cook as fast as angel hair! In a bowl while the noodles cooked, I added a spoon of peanut butter (or peanut butter powder, like PB2) and a bit hot sauce, like sriracha, with some vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, garlic powder and hot pepper flakes. I had cilantro and green onions in the fridge along with some bagged coleslaw mix (broccoli slaw would be awesome, too!), so I tossed it all in and the whole bowl took less than five minutes to make! Endless wild noodle adventures await you!
For this weeks, Wild Meatless Monday Adventure Challenge: Choose a noodle, add in veggies and/or beans, a favorite sauce and and season generously with your wild imagination!
Love + Lentils,