I want to wish everyone a happy 2013. It’s the season of new beginnings and a lot of resolutions that will be broken later this year. There’s something about the idea of making a resolution. We have good intentions but it’s hard to change our habits to really make the necessary changes for sticking to those resolutions.
Well I’m here to help you out with some of those resolutions. The ones you made to eat healthier, happier and kinder to your body for sure. While I can’t promise you’ll lose weight, many people do when they stop eating processed foods and start eating homemade delicious food.
For the being happier part, eating has become a chore to many. It’s something you have to do, so you do but don’t pay much attention to what you eat. It’s time to start focusing on what you’re eating (that drive-through window combo or snack from the office snack machine isn’t part of being kinder to your body or making you happy). It’s time to stop working on your computer, talking on the phone or watching TV while you eat.
It’s time to start focusing on the food you eat. It starts with picking out a recipe that looks good to you, than shopping for the ingredients (growing them is even more fun and rewarding). Notice the colors, the weight, the smell of those ingredients. Then bringing them home, where you prepare them into a delicious meal. While cooking and eating, notice the aromas of the ingredients blending together to harmonize into a beautiful dish that tantalize the taste buds, your nose and your eyes. We eat with more than just our mouth. Our senses of taste, touch, smell and sight are all part of the eating process.
When you focus on your food, you become more present and aware of what you’re eating. You begin to enjoy the process of creating and eating the fruits of your labor. You also become more aware of what you’re putting into your body and tend to eat less. Self-love is so important for being healthier and happier.
I’m going to share a beautiful recipe that will help you get started on those resolutions you made. It’s healthy, wonderful to smell and look at and uses plenty of fresh veggies and yummy ingredients. It’s also low in fat and can be adapted with any ingredients of your choice. You can put in as much or as little of something as you like but have fun with it. Leave out the sausage and you have a wonderful vegetarian version. The best cooking involves lots of love and creates many happy times of enjoyment.
My Chicken Sausage and Veggies with Penne Pasta is also good to take as leftovers to work, saving you from the fast food or vending machine lunch and saves money. This meal is not only fast and easy (takes about 20 minutes to make), but it’s cheap to make as well (cost about $4.75 to make entire dish).
Finally let me get to the flavors. The chicken sausage is a low-fat smoked sausage from Costco: Sabatino’s Smoked Mozzarella with Artichokes and Garlic. It’s fully cooked, all organic ingredients, no preservatives, only 7 grams of fat per sausage (about half of regular pork sausage) and freezes well, making it a nice staple to keep because it’s versatile to use. I paired that with the nutty flavors of whole wheat pasta, roasted red peppers (ones I roasted and put in the freezer while in season), plenty of garlic, fresh roma tomatoes, a little of Bertolli’s Tomato and Basil pasta sauce, sheep’s milk feta, the fresh zip of lemon and spicy red pepper flakes to create the perfect balance on yummy to please the senses.
My husband loves this dish and made sure I wrote it down because I create a lot of different pasta dishes based on what I have on hand. The dish was fresh, light and full of the yummy flavors of life. I served it up with a glass of 2008 Figli d’Italia, a bold and spicy red wine from Leone D’Oro, that complimented the flavors of the pasta (red wine gives us more antioxidants and other good stuff, so enjoying a glass with a meal meets my self-care goals). Crusty bread would also be good with this dish, if you are looking for more to serve with it.
Chicken Sausage and Veggies with Penne Pasta
3 cups of al dente cooked whole wheat pasta (or use your favorite pasta)
2 Sabatino’s Smoked Mozzarella with Artichokes and Garlic Sausages, halved and sliced into 1/4″ thick slices (or use the sausage of your choice or leave it out)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
5 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 cup of prepared pasta sauce (I used Bertolli’s Tomato and Basil)
1 cup of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 oz. Feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Zest and juice from half a lemon
To create flavor in this dish, it’s important to layer in the ingredients in the right order.
Start by cooking your pasta to al dente according to package directions, reserve about a cup of the pasta water if you need to add liquid to the dish, drain noodles and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat, adding half the olive oil when the pan is hot. Toss in the sausage and do a quick sear to brown, removing from pan when done. Add the rest of the olive oil and the minced garlic. Cook until the garlic softens and becomes fragrant.
Add the fresh tomatoes and allow to simmer until juices reduce, about 3 to 4 minutes. Toss in the roasted red peppers, cooking for another minute before adding the pasta sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the red pepper flakes and the zest from the lemon. Simmer for 3 to 4 more minutes. Add pasta water if you need more liquid in the pan.
Finally, add the pasta, sausage and the spinach to the pan. Squeeze or add the juice from half the lemon to the pan and stir until mixed. Check salt and pepper one more time and remove from the heat. The heat of the dish will continue to wilt the spinach so don’t worry that it’s not completely cooked yet.
Spoon into dishes, sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
More Recipes and Ideas for Helping You with Your New Year’s Resolutions: