Day 22 of the Reluctant Plant Based Diet of a Home Cooking Fanatic:
So, I've read Dr. Esselstyn's book, and the China Study by Dr. Campbell, watched the Forks Over Knives video, and I get it. I really do. The people in Dr. Esselstyn's study were at the last fork on the road of Coronary Artery Disease. Strictly following Dr. Esselstyn's whole foods, plant based diet - no oil, makes sense for them, especially when you see the degree of reversal of coronary artery disease for all 14 patients whom made it to the end of the study.
But, while we've had some health issues, my husband and I aren't anywhere near that point. I have a history of gastro-intestinal cancer (no evidence of disease x 3 years) and my husband has some history of heart issues, so we just want to eat healthier in order to live a quality life as long as possible. The one important requirement of a diet is that it has to be do-able, otherwise, you'll follow it for awhile and just jump off eventually.
I think the point that it is most important to pick up, is to try to follow a diet more closely resembling the average diet in those countries that have the lowest rates of heart disease, cancer, and the rest. Do those people NEVER eat meat, dairy, eggs, or oil? No, but they only do so infrequently, in moderation.
Over the last 22 days we've been working towards finding a much more healthful diet that works for us, that we can commit to following (lifelong). I haven't had any meat or fish in 22 days. I've had 1/4 tbsp of butter over the same period, and I've had some small amounts of olive oil. This works for us, and is a diet to which we can commit, over a long period of time.
I've also lost 5 lbs, am sleeping better, and feel great! If that's not motivation, I don't know what is...
So here's a recipe for a delicious Spaghetti with Carmelized Onions and Garlic that we enjoyed tonight! It does include a small amount of olive oil, and I sprinkled a tiny bit of parmesan cheese on top. In addition, I did totally enjoy a tiny, miniscule bit of butter on my accompanying spinach (instead of my usual tablespoon)...but overall, it's a really delicious, extremely low-fat, plant based version of a (normally) fat-laden dish. The secret is the slow carmelization of the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and basil. This adds so much flavor to the sauce that you won't feel like you're missing anything.
1/4 of a large Red Onion, diced
5 Garlic Cloves, minced (use fresh)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
10 White Mushrooms, cores removed, sliced
10 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped fine
1/4 C Vegetable Broth
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 Jar Vegan Spaghetti Sauce (make sure the oil content is extremely low)
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta (or any whole grain pasta) cooked
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat for a few minutes. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, turn down to medium and stir frequently for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until the onions and garlic are nicely carmelized. Remove to a plate.
Turn the heat back up to medium and add the mushrooms and basil to the skillet along with about 1/4 cup Vegetable Broth. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until almost all of the liquid is cooked off, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the carmelized onions and garlic back to the skillet and mix well. Add the jar of marinara sauce, and the onion powder, mixing again to combine. Turn the heat to low and simmer for at least 1/2 hour, preferably an hour, to bring up the flavors.
While the sauce is simmering, cook your spaghetti and any accompanying dish (I sauteed fresh spinach in vegetable broth). Drain the spaghetti noodles when done, return to the pan and add the sauce to the spaghetti noodles and cook over low heat, stirring frequently for a couple of minutes.
Ready to serve!