Pasta Bolognese

This is a basic marinara recipe with added vegetable protein for a more substantial and “meaty” sauce.  It’s easy to prepare, but still quite enjoyable. There are only a few ingredients, so it’s important that they are all good quality.

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce) package pasta (regular or gluten-free)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, blended
1 teaspoon salt
1–2 teaspoons coconut sugar, or other unrefined sugar
Pinch of black pepper
½ cup dry TVP
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and toss with a little olive oil. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Stir in crushed red pepper. Add blended tomatoes, salt, sugar and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add TVP. Continue to cook the sauce over medium heat for 30–40 minutes. Add a little water, if needed. When done, stir in fresh basil. Serve over pasta. Serves 4–6.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are often considered a vegetable, though in actuality they are a citrus fruit. Tomatoes are an incredibly versatile food. They are delicious eaten raw, in salads or on sandwiches, and take on a wonderful sweetness when cooked. Their high acid content makes them a perfect food for canning. Tomatoes are such an important part of the American diet that it’s hard to believe that they were once considered toxic. It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that they became a staple food in the U.S.

One medium whole tomato contains around 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein and 6 milligrams of sodium. It also provides 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 20 percent of the RDA of vitamin A, 2 percent of the RDA of iron, and 1 percent of the RDA of calcium. Here are some of the health benefits of tomatoes.

1. Ward off Cancer : Numerous studies have concluded that the more tomatoes people eat the lower their risks of certain cancers, especially lung, stomach and prostate cancers.  A substance called lycopene, which is responsible for tomatoes red color, is thought to be the reason for this cancer protective effect. Processed tomatoes contain even more lycopene than raw ones. The process of cooking breaks down the cell walls, helping to release the lycopene. Eating tomatoes with a little bit of fat, such as olive oil, helps lycopene to be better absorbed by the body.

2. Prevent DNA Damage: Tomatoes are high in important antioxidants such as vitamin C and Vitamin A. These vitamins work to fend of DNA damage from free radicals. Consequently, tomatoes may help to ward off age related diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes.

3. Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease: Tomatoes contain important nutrients, such as niacin, folate and vitamin B6, that have associated with the reduction of heart disease risk. One study found that women who ate 7 to 10 servings of tomato products per week had a 29 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than women who consumed less than a serving and a half of tomato products each week. Results were even more impressive when the women ate oil-rich tomato products.

4. Protect Against Thrombosis: Another study showed that drinking 8 ounces of tomato juice daily reduced platelet aggregation significantly, among study subjects. Those drinking a placebo showed no benefit. It’s important to drink low-sodium tomato juice if you are trying to protect against thrombosis (blood clots in the blood vessel) , as high sodium levels can cause negative effects for this type of disease.

5. Ward off Inflammation: A double blind study found that drinking a glass of tomato juice a day can reduce blood levels of TNF-alpha by 34 percent. TNF-alpha causes inflammation. High levels have been found in individuals with most chronic, degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

Health Benefits of TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a soybean-based, high-protein alternative to meat, commonly used by vegetarians and health-conscious individuals. It is sold in bags and comes in the form of a caramel-colored, dried, crumbly, almost pebble-like consistency. TVP does not need to be refrigerated until after it is cooked. Although TVP is not widely used in restaurants or by the majority of Americans, it is nutritious and tasty and can be used in a variety of recipes.

  • Carbohydrates and Fiber: TVP serves as a rich source of carbohydrates: 1 serving contains 26 grams. The carbs in a serving of TVP break down to provide energy to keep your body functioning as it should, and the nutrient plays a role in the health of your brain, muscles and kidneys. You require 130 grams of carbs per day for best health. Not all carbohydrates get processed into energy, however; fiber is a carb that stays solid to influence bowel and digestive processes. A serving of TVP contains 12 grams of fiber, a significant portion of the recommended 25 to 38 grams per day.
  • Protein: One serving of TVP provides you with 32 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of this macronutrient and a good choice for vegetarians. Your diet needs 46 to 56 grams of protein daily. The protein in TVP is important for your immune system, as well as building muscles, repairing cells and tissues and producing enzymes.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Including TVP in your diet gives you access to a rich source of potassium. One serving contains 81 percent of the daily recommended intake. This essential electrolyte is vital to the function of your heart and muscles. You will also get 35 percent of the iron you need each day in a serving of TVP. Additionally, a serving of TVP provides 16 percent of the calcium and 1 percent of the vitamin A you require daily. Calcium and iron play important roles in helping to maintain energy levels and bone health.
  • Fat: One benefit that textured vegetable protein has over meat is that it has no saturated fat. CalorieKing.com explains that TVP has no total fat or cholesterol either, since it’s made from purely vegetable sources.

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