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Laura Theodore’s Vegan Ease & Her Mac ‘N Peas

Garden Eats Vegan Ease Laura Theodore

Garden Eats Vegan Ease Mac 'N Peas With Creamy Butternut Squash

Garden Eats Pumpkin

Garden Eats Spices

I’m always being asked, “how do you create such versatility with vegetables, it seems like you’d run out of options?” Quite the opposite- preparing meat-less, vegetable-filled meals allows for endless creativity in the kitchen. One vegetable alone can be prepared countless, taste-filled ways- consider the sweet potato- fries, whipped, dehydrated, pies, sauces… I even use it in milkshakes and cocktails. While my mind is constantly streaming new, healthy food ideas, I realize it’s not the same for everyone- especially for those wanting to convert to a plant-only diet. Laura Theodore’s latest release, Vegan Ease is exactly that- the calm, relaxed, no stress answer to preparing plant-based meals for beginners or busy people wanting fresh, new, healthy vegan ideas for their families.

Laura’s recipes are straightforward, easy to follow and while they feature a variety of healthy ingredients, the recipes tend to feature those ingredients in manageable numbers.

With busy schedules and differing skill levels in mind, Laura created her recipes with an “Ease” guide to follow called “The Ease-Factor”. And, so that you’ll be able to follow the ease guide, she goes on to suggest basic ingredients and kitchen tools to keep on hand, a shopping list, how to eco-clean your kitchen and even a nutritional guide related to plant-based diets.

As someone who has been in private practice with a focus on plant-based medicines and nutraceuticals for over a decade, Julieanna Hever, RD did a really awesome job helping Laura out by demystifying popular questions about getting enough calcium {plant-based diet is superior for bioavailable calcium by the way}, B12 and protein.

I invited over a chef friend and two new vegans to try out the Mac ‘N Peas with Butternut Squash {although we used a small pumpkin}. I procured all of the ingredients and they put the recipe together in my kitchen to test the recipe. The taste tester- my 3 1/2 year old mini-foodie, Milan- a girl with a very discerning palate! We’re Italian so peas and pasta are a thing in our family! She loved the smoky flavor and the texture {which she described as a creamy and “toasty flavor”}.

A few days after I made this recipe myself with two additions- cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mac ‘N Peas with Creamy Butternut Squash

Ingredients


3 3/4 peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped butternut squash {we used a pumpkin}
2 small cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 raw cashews
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 TB filtered or spring water {more if needed}
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 pound pasta {we used gluten free elbows}
1 cup frozen organic peas, thawed
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika {we used Mexican paprika}
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp turmeric
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Method


1. Fit a steamer basket into a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 to 3 inches cold water then add squash and garlic. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam squash and garlic until very tender, about 20 min. Let the squash and garlic cool for 20 min.

2. Meanwhile, put the cashews and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl. Let soak for 30-40 min. Drain the soaking water from the cashews and thoroughly rinse the cashews under clean, cold running water.

3. Once the squash and garlic have cooled, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 tsp salt (optional). Stir in pasta. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is almost tender. Add the peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, but firm and the peas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and peas.

4. While the pasta and peas cook, put the cooled butternut squash and garlic, cashews, 1 1/2 TB of cold water, mustard powder, smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, cayenne and turmeric into a blender and process until the consistency of a thick, smooth sauce. Add more water 1 TB at a time, as needed, to achieve the desired consistency of a thick, smooth sauce. Add more water, 1 TB at a time if needed. Transfer sauce to a medium pan and cook over medium-low heat, just until heated through, stirring often adding more water as needed if sauce is too thick.

5. Put the pasta and peas in a large bowl. Immediately pour the warm sauce over the pasta and gently stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

When you try it, let us know or tag your IG photos #gardeneatsveganease

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