Yesterday the girls and I prepared – and ate – foods high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for our eyes (it helps us to see at night), good for our skin, hair and nails (it keeps them strong and shiny), and it helps keep our immune systems strong. Good sources of Vitamin A are yellow, orange and dark green vegetables. Carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are some of the vegetables that contain high amounts of Vitamin A.
I came up with two recipes yesterday that were enough of a hit that I’ll be adding them to our regular menu routine.
Crafty Pumpkaroni is a vegan version of boxed mac ‘n cheese. It was developed at lunchtime when the girls said they wanted pasta, and I wanted to add a good source of Vitamin A to the sauce. I took out a can of pureed pumpkin that was hiding in the pantry and put it to use. The girls said they “kind of liked it.” In our house, that kind of statement is a high accolade.
I don’t measure, and my dishes never taste the same twice. Adjust the measurements according to your preferences.
Pasta, with 1 cup of cooking water reserved before draining (I’m underlining this because I always forget to save the water, so I think this step deserves special attention)
1 cup Pureed pumpkin or sweet potato (maybe more depending on your preference)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. olive oil or vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/4 cup Tofutti cream cheese
Salt to taste
(I can see how this recipe would taste good with garlic powder and/or soy sauce too, so add it if you think it needs it)
Boil water for the pasta, and cook the pasta according to package directions.
In a saucepan, heat the oil or margarine over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add 1 cup of pumpkin or sweet potato puree and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Stir. The consistency should be watery. Take the sauce off the heat and add 1/4 cup Tofutti cream cheese.
Blend the sauce using an immersion blender or food processor. Add salt, more pumpkin, or more water to taste.
Pour over the drained pasta and serve.
Green and Yellow Burritos
Now on to dinner: I made Green and Yellow Burritos. There are so many different ways to use this filling mixture. I put it in flour tortillas last night and heated them in the oven. Tonight I will form the leftover filling into veggie burgers. You could add it to a bread mix. The possibilities are endless.
2 large sweet potatoes or yams
2 big handfuls of spinach, washed and thick stems removed. No need to cut it up.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs (Jason brand are dairy-free)
Salt to taste
8 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
Shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and cube the sweet potato. Place it in a steamer basket on the stove and cook until it is soft.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic puffs up. Add the spinach, stir to coat, and continue to cook uncovered over medium-low heat until the spinach has wilted.
Combine the spinach mixture and the cooked sweet potato in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the sabatier blade (the standard blade that sits at the bottom of the bowl). Pulse a few times until the mixture is blended and the spinach is in small pieces.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Add bread crumbs, salt, black beans and cheese to taste.
To form the burritos:
Lay on the workspace a piece of aluminum foil a little larger than the size of the tortilla. Lay the tortilla on the foil. Spoon some filling onto the tortilla and either roll it up (there are excellent YouTube videos showing how to roll a burrito – check them out) or fold the tortilla over to make a half circle. Wrap it up in the foil, place it in the oven, and heat thoroughly before serving.
Learning about Vitamin A has been good for the girls. They are much more inclined to eat healthy food if they know why they should eat it. It becomes less about “what is that green stuff in my dinner?” and more about “that green stuff might not taste like candy, but I know it’s good for my body.” That’s how it should be.
I might note here that they used to eat all kinds of things that were good for them, and they ate them willingly. As they got older, their tastes changed. I feel like it happened around the time they each turned 4 years old. All of a sudden the things they loved looked like the weirdest, grossest food ever. I’m hoping that with a little understanding about how food fuels the body, that attitude will change.
Today they’re learning about the B Vitamins. They already get tons of it when they eat chickpeas (an almost daily part of their diet). Avocados also contain Vitamin B, and that will be part of our next food experiment.