Sleepovers, play-dates, or newly vegan family habits can pose challenges for cooks with young children. Or maybe you’re not vegan (yet!), but would like to find ways to get more healthy vegetable-based foods into your favorite itty-bitty human. This recipe packs a great nutritional punch without the animal junk, in a tasty noodly kid-friendly package!
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils (or canned white beans, any type)
- 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon ground flax seed
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 24 oz. jar prepared marinara or spaghetti sauce (read labels! look for one made from garden ingredients and spices, without meat, dairy, high fructose corn syrup, or other random junk)
- 3/4 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein — found at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or similar, usually on the baking aisle; easily obtained via online shopping, if you aren’t near a natural foods store)
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 16-0z package uncooked spaghetti noodles (or whatever kind of pasta your kiddo likes– again, don’t forget to read those labels!)
Cook pasta according to package directions.
While pasta cooks, combine water, lentils, spinach, nutritional yeast, flax, turmeric, and olive oil in a blender. Pulse a few times, then blend until the mixture is very smooth. Pour blended ingredients into a medium-large saucepan.
Stir in the spaghetti sauce, TVP, oregano, basil, and brown sugar. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve over warm pasta.
For not-too-picky eaters, saute some sliced button, cremini, or portabellini mushrooms in a little olive oil; sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook til just tender, and stir into sauce before serving.
If desired, serve alongside small bowls of ‘Noochesan‘ pasta topping, or cashew-based sprinkly cheese, and let young folks decide whether (and how much!) to add to their own basghetti. For kids who like them, unmelted Daiya mozzarella shreds also make a nice pasta topping.
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by timlewisnm.