Well, I’m back in New York for the week to visit my husband (if this last sentence confuses you, see: coconut macaroons — the post, not the actual recipe). I brought some work with me to do during the day while Gennaro is at work. Otherwise, I had a chance to catch up on some of my favorite T.V. shows (my parents don’t have DVR. Enough said).
Bravo was nice enough to provide a gratuitous Bethenny Ever After marathon on Monday. I have to say, maybe it’s the name (I’m a Bethany), or the fact that there’s a cute baby on the show pretty much all the time now (Gennaro would probably have a field day with this one. He knows how I feel about cute babies. I can’t say he’s not a little worried about it, actually), or maybe it’s the whole New York aspect (there’s something fascinating about watching others navigate the city you live in/lived in for four years). Whatever it is, though, I find that show to be the ultimate in my guilty pleasures. And now I’m caught up. Vacation: successful.
Then yesterday Oprah replayed her “going vegan” episode, where 300+ Oprah staffers signed up to go vegan for a week. Of course, as a vegetarian/vegan who has been known to try to gently convince others of the merits of a vegan diet from time to time, (and who says this doesn’t work? My parents went from reluctant to full-throttle — they’re actually signed up to go on a vegan retreat this summer. By their own free will) it made me giddy with excitement to see that some Oprah staffers not only felt better after a week of going vegan, but that they were going to stick with the plan indefinitely.
Then again, it made me sad to see that some folks were less than enthused about their new food options. As someone who does not eat gluten or animal products on a regular basis (if at all), I am used to the questions and cringing from others over what my diet consists of. In those moments, I feel some sense of duty to channel my inner salesperson and convince others that not only am I not deprived, but that I’ve actually never been more satisfied with my diet (and that is really the truth). But I have to say, I felt for Kathy Freston when it was on her shoulders, alone, to do that with hundreds of Oprah staffers at one time. Sometimes, defending your food can be exhausting.
As a blogger, things get even more complicated. I’m putting myself — and my food — out there, so it’s much more likely to be analyzed (Whoah, that girl eats wayy too much Daiya cheese! Probably true.) On the one hand, I would like to be able to say, “It’s my blog, so I can do what I want.” Still, on the other other hand, I feel a sense of duty to those who might be curious about or just starting a gluten-free or vegan or sugar-free diet. I truly want to show people how satisfying these diets can be, which is why I started this blog in the first place. Plus, I want to provide a variety, so everyone can enjoy at least something on this site.
This dish was inspired by that mindset. I am always asking myself, if I could make one meal to convince someone that “gluten-free, vegan” doesn’t mean lettuce and sunflower seeds for eternity, what would it be? My lasagna? My tempeh tacos? I tend to think comfort foods are the most longed-for when we’re overhauling our diets. I already have a macaroni and cheese recipe on this site, but this really easy, somewhat sophisticated version is the ultimate in comfort fare. It’s rich and creamy, but ultimately full of fiber (brown rice pasta) and healthy veggies (a full head of broccoli).*
So, next time Oprah and her staffers need convincing, I would send Kathy Freston this recipe to make for them.
Fusilli with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce:
1 lb. brown rice fusilli pasta
1 head of broccoli florets, chopped
salt to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 1/4 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 1/2 cups Daiya cheddar-style shreds
1. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Add broccoli during lasting minute to two minutes of cooking. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, while pasta cooks, melt buttery spread in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in soy milk, then Daiya and stir until cheese is completely melted, about 5 minutes. Add drained pasta and broccoli back to pot and pour in cheese sauce. Stir to coat completely. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately.
* It’s worth explaining that I view carb-laden recipes as wasted calories if they’re not infiltrated with something healthy like broccoli or other veggies, which might explain my broccoli with mac-and-cheese streak on this site.