What I loved most about being a vegan (from end of summer 2008 through most of 2010), was the learning process.
Not only did I learn a lot about nutrition and how certain foods affect your body (negatively and positively), I learned how to cook creatively.
When your pool of foods is narrowed down, you have to “work with what you have,” which leads to fun kitchen experimenting.
I mentioned yesterday that I used to make stuffed peppers as a vegan. Basically, because you don’t have the “luxury” of using ingredients like eggs, dairy and meat, you’re forced to look “outside of the box.”
You discover new vegetables at the grocery store, thinking, “What is this? What does it taste like? Can I make it into something hearty for dinner?”
I felt as a vegan, I was most creative with my pantry – stocking it full of lentils, different canned beans, a wide range of spices, different types of oils and condiments, and every nut under the sun.
One of my “go-to” meals as a vegan was a walnut taco “meat.” I would make this walnut meat and stuff it into lettuce cups, sprinkle over some corn and olives and have myself a merry little “taco night.”
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to bring this recipe to you! It was fun to make (and I tweaked it a bit since it’s inception in my college apartment senior year) and made me wish I had known about spiralizing in college – it would have saved me the freshman 15, for sure!
Spiralized dinner parties are the best kind of dinner parties – they’re interactive, healthy and satisfying! What better way to enjoy the evening than enjoying a glass of wine and pasta that doesn’t leave you in a food coma afterwards?
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Nutritional Information & Recipe
Weight Watchers SmartPoints*: 15 points
- For the pasta:
- 1 ear of corn, shucked
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup diced white or red onion
- 1 teaspoon diced jalapeno
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 14.5oz can peeled whole tomatoes, drained
- 3 large zucchinis (or 4 medium), Blade D, noodles trimmed
- ½ cup halved medium black olives
- 1 avocado, insides sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 lime quartered, to serve
- For the taco “meat”:
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ teaspoon chile powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the corn in a medium pot, cover with water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for another 1-2 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain into a colander, shave the kernels off the cob with a knife and set aside.
- Place the walnuts into a food processor along with all of the spices, season with salt and pepper and pulse until chunky-ground. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add in the onion and jalapeno and cook until onions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Then, add in the garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Then, add in the tomato paste and stir to combine for about 1 minute. Then, add in the taco meat and crush the tomatoes by hand (from the canned tomatoes) and stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Fold in the corn and let cook for 30 seconds to heat.
- Remove half of the taco meat and add in half of the zucchini noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes or until zucchini noodles cook to al dente or to your preference. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add back in the rest of the taco meat and the rest of the zucchini noodles and cook again for 3-5 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
- Divide all of the the zucchini pasta into four bowls, garnish with olives, avocado and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.