The other day I watched a really powerful documentary called "Forks Over Knives" and it really left it's mark on me. The film discusses the benefits of eating a plant based diet and how degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. After watching this I spent a good bit of time thinking about it and we've decided as a family to embrace a plant-based diet. For now, we're trying it full time for a couple weeks to see how we do. It's not an easy change, certainly. Finding substitutes for dairy and meat products can be a challenge... so far though, we've been doing well with it and have been enjoying the new dishes we've been eating.
Will we, as a family, turn into vegans? That I'm not sure of. I know my honey and especially my teen really love meat and dairy products and that this isn't something I see them doing forever. And I'm okay with that. My two youngest children have really been enjoying this new way of eating and have already lost some weight following a plant-based food plan. Weight is an issue with my two youngest children and for me it's pre-diabetes and hypertension. I feel confident that this diet will help all three of us achieve better health. For the rest of my family, I think that they will be consuming less animal product is beneficial. Even if they are eating animal products 2-3 days of the week, it's much better than every single meal of every single day.
I'm not going to preach here. I understand that eating style is a highly personal and individual choice. I do not believe in any one thing being the right and only way. What works for you, what makes you feel good and is right for YOUR body is the thing to do. I don't believe, as a whole, that animal derived foods are bad. I just believe that we, as a country, place too much emphasis on animal-based nutrition. Balance is key.
If you are interested in viewing "Forks Over Knives" it's available right now on Netflix instant streaming. Also, at the "Forks Over Knives" website there is much more info and a trailer of the film.
This recipe comes from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. I made some adjustments to it, to suit my family's likes. The recipe you see published here below, includes my adaptation. If you would like to see the original recipe, please visit this page: Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie. If you are interested in vegan cooking, Susan's blog is worth a visit. She creates some of the most amazing food!
We LOVED this shepherd's pie! So satisfying! Really great flavor and even my meat eaters didn't miss the meat... I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think!
Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie
Ingredients:10 large potatoes
3/4 cup Almond milk (more or less to your preferred consistency)
1- 8 ounce tub Galaxy chive & garlic vegan cream cheese alternative
Salt to taste
3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided into 1 and 2 Tablespoon amounts)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces baby Bella mushrooms
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms
4 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid
2 Tablespoons dry red wine
2 Tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons original Mrs. Dash seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Method:1: Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
2: While the potatoes are cooking, heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
3: Drain cooked potatoes and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir the vegan cream cheese alternative into the potatoes until melted, then add the almond milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit .
4: Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
5: Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
6: Lightly oil a 3-quart casserole dish. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, and then spread the potatoes evenly over the top.
7: Bake for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
*Kitchen Notes*~ I love Galaxy chive & garlic vegan cream cheese, it's great for a vegan alternative to butter, sour cream or regular cream cheese in mashed potatoes.
~Don't skip the step of covering the bottom of your casserole dish with panko... the crunch that it gives the dish is so delicious!
If you would like to try some other fabulous vegan lentil dishes, try these:
Cauliflower and Lentil Coconut Curry from vegangela
Vegan Lentil Chili with Roasted Red Peppers, Olives, andGreen Onion from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Vegan: Lentil and Coconut Soup with Cilantro-HabañeroGremolata from Serious Eats
Spanish Lentils and Mushrooms from herbivoracious
Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf from Oh She Glows