Over the past six months or so I have been trying to make small, incremental changes to my eating habits. I really have never been one to overeat, but my food choices also never lean toward the “healthful” end of the scale either. I don’t automatically reach for carrots, celery sticks or an apple when I get hungry in the afternoon. Instead, I’d rather have pretzels, a piece of chocolate or a cookie. For lunch, peanut butter & jelly on white bread always sounds better to me than most any other healthy alternative. My healthful choices need to be made consciously and, most times, forcefully. I am envious of people who adore vegetables and will gobble them up enthusiastically. My mom and my sister both love all sorts of veggies; somehow I was born without the vegetable-loving gene. But I am taking steps to re-condition my taste buds.
A big part of my shift in mindset when it comes to food happened when I watched Food, Inc. (you can read my review of it and the ensuing discussion here). While the bulk of the documentary focused on meat production, it opened my eyes to mass production of agriculture in general, overly processed foods, and started me reading everything and anything I could get my hands on about mass agriculture, government involvement, the meat industry, plant-based diets and more.
I have eaten significantly less meat over the last 6 months. Significantlyless. I have been making strides to eat more fresh fruit, more vegetables, whole grains, and less animal products in general (including dairy). At the end of January I did the first week of this Whole Living 28-Day Action Plan. I went vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and caffeine-free. While difficult at first, I was amazed at how great I felt by the end of the week.
Since doing that cleanse, I have been experimenting with different recipes that are vegetarian, include whole grains and lots of vegetables. One day while grocery shopping I went down the Asian aisle and soba noodles caught my eye. I have seen recipes with buckwheat noodles on countless blogs and have always meant to try them, so I grabbed a package with the intent of giving them a go. I figured I might tolerate them, as a “just okay” healthy option once in a while.
Little did I know that I would fall in love with them! They have such a hearty texture and I might even enjoy them more than regular pasta. This stir-fry has become a regular staple in my dinner rotation – it is packed with vegetables, all sorts of healthy ingredients and is incredibly filling. Plus, once you have all of your veggies prepped, it takes less than 15 minutes to throw together. You certainly can’t beat that!
On a side note, I am thinking of chronicling the changes I am making to my diet, my move to become what some call a “flexitarian” (only eating meat very occasionally) and documenting the types of foods I am eating on a daily basis. Would anyone be interested in reading something like that? (I would probably publish those posts over on Unplugged to keep this main site dedicated to recipes.) I would love to hear your thoughts!
One year ago: Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
Two years ago: Anadama Bread
Three years ago: Chicken Fajita Enchiladas
Four years ago: Cheesy Baked Ziti with Sausage
Soba Noodle Stir-Fry with Spicy Almond Butter Sauce
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes
8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup broccoli florets
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, sliced thinly
½ cup almond slivers
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
For the Almond Butter Sauce:
3 tablespoons almond butter
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Add the soba noodles and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with water and set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan or wok, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage, red pepper and broccoli and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for an additional 1 to 5 minutes, until desired crispness.
3. Remove vegetables from heat, add the noodles, and toss with the scallions, slivered almonds and crushed red pepper flakes, to desired spiciness.
4. To make the sauce, whisk together the almond butter and water until smooth. Then, whisk in the rice vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over the stir fry mixture, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.