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Friday, March 18, 2011

Plant Strong Foods at the Homeless Shelter

If you've ever visited a homeless shelter, it would be fair to say that you have seen many casseroles and gooey desserts ready to serve. Twice a month, my co-workers and I head to two different shelters where we feed the homeless. And cheesy casseroles are far from our minds when we prepare our meals for the homeless.

When we decided to cook healthy meals for the homeless, I felt very strongly that it was important to give them the best and healthiest food possible. Since the plant-strong mantra is such a vital part of what drives my own life, we planned to serve "Plant-Strong Dinners" to the residents of two shelters.

Our menu is very simple. We make recipes from the Engine 2 Diet, or ones that are inspired from this wonderful book by former Austin (TX) firefighter, Rip Esselstyn. If the ingredients for the dinner are from the ground, you have the basics for a great dinner. No oil. No salt. No dairy. Nothing from an animal. There are endless possibilities for creating the most delicious meals.

We cull all of the vegetables. And we get really creative with our dishes. Everyone really loves what we make. Only two people have asked, "Where's the meat?"

Here's what we served last night--it was so good, that I also make it for my family.

What you'll need:

4 cups of assorted vegetables (leek, zucchini, peppers, carrots are great)
Seasonings to your taste (garlic powder, parsley, fresh basil, bay leaves)
2 boxes of Pomi(r) tomatoes

One pound of whole wheat pasta
Nutritional Yeast

Here's what to do:

-Clean all veggies (I leave the skins on)
-Dice/cut into bite-sized pieces
-Arrange on a baking sheet (use parchment paper)
-Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes

When the veggies are "al dente" remove them, and place them in a pan with the Pomi(r) tomatoes. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the nutritional yeast for extra flavor.

Cook pasta to package instructions. Add pasta to the vegetable sauce mixture. Toss. Add nutritional yeast for added flavor Garnish with freshly minced parsley.

Serve with a tossed salad and a slice or two of your favorite whole wheat baguette.

The picture above was taken of me and my co-workers when we were serving exactly this dish to the homeless at a shelter in Norristown, PA.

Enjoy the meal. Stay plant-strong!

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