March 9, 2012

Stuffed Shells & When In Doubt, Add More Garlic

I decided to get crazy last night and turn the Vegan Spinach Lasagna into Vegan Spinach Stuffed Shells.

And it was awesome.  

It's so exciting to me how versatile some recipes can be.  Like taking the filling of the lasagna, and using it as a stuffed shells filling.  Once you gain some confidence in the kitchen, your imagination is the only thing holding you back!

Speaking of the spinach filling, it's freaking amazing.  I could pretty much stuff that stuff into just about anything... or eat it right out of the bowl like I did when I ran out of shells. 

I made the full portion last night and will have tons left over for the weekend.  But let's face it, this is not about stuffed shells or leftovers...... this is about the garlic. 

I love garlic, and I'm putting garlic in everything lately.  And you don't have to be vegan to truly overuse this amazing little bulb, but it helps.  I love it when I reek of garlic, and I love the smell of it on my breath.  And I don't really care that others don't.  Garlic is my friend, plus I've never been attacked by a vampire.

I found this little tidbit about the health benefits of garlic from The University Of Maryland Medical Center web site.

"Garlic is rich in antioxidants, which help destroy free radicals -- particles that can damage cell membranes and DNA, and may contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.

The conditions for which garlic is showing the most promise include:

Heart disease
Some evidence suggests that garlic may help prevent heart disease. It may slow down atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and lower blood pressure slightly, between 7% and 8%.  Garlic also seems to be an anticoagulant, meaning it acts as a blood-thinner, which may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Common cold
Some early evidence suggests garlic may help prevent colds. In one study, people took either garlic supplements or placebo for 12 weeks during "cold season" between November and February. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than those who took placebo. Plus, when they did get a cold, the people taking garlic saw their symptoms go away faster than those who took placebo.

Garlic may strengthen the immune system, helping the body fight diseases such as cancer. In test tubes, garlic seems to have anti-cancer activity. And population studies -- ones that follow groups of people over time -- suggest that people who eat more raw or cooked garlic are less likely to develop certain types of cancer, particularly colon and stomach cancers. In fact, researchers who reviewed 7 studies found a 30% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer among people who ate a lot of raw or cooked garlic. Garlic supplements don' t seem to have the same effect.

A large-scale study, called the Iowa Women's Health Study, looked at how much garlic, fruit, and vegetables were in the diets of 41,000 middle-aged women. Results showed that women who regularly ate garlic, fruits, and vegetables had a 35% lower risk of developing colon cancer.

Garlic may help the immune system function better during times of need such as in cancer. In a study of 50 people with inoperable colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer, immune activity improved after they took aged garlic extract for 6 months."

So, basically, by consuming as much garlic as I can get my little hands on, I'm gonna live forever!  See, reeking like garlic isn't so bad after all......

Love and Kale,


Vegan Stuffed Shells
Yield:  Lots and lots of shells
The stuffed shells filling is creamy and rich - and incredibly nutritious.  Packed with spinach and beans, it's amazingly healthy - add in garlic, nutritional yeast, herbs and spices?  Now it's just creamy, cheezy deliciousness.  We cooked the shells al dente, since they will cook a little more in the oven with the sauce.

Print here.

  • 1 box pasta shells
  • 2 jars sauce (without added sugar and low in sodium!)
  • 2 - 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 oz (a couple handfuls) of fresh basil leaves (I used a couple tsp of dried basil)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (4!)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt (depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs frozen, chopped spinach (I used three 9oz containers) OR 1 lb frozen kale, defrosted, drained with all the liquid squeezed out
  • 1/2 bag of Daiya mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Boil your shells according to package directions - just until tender - do not overcook!
  2. Meanwhile, make your filling.  Combine your filling ingredients (beans through spinach) in a food processor.  Process until well combined and smooth.
  3. Drain your shells and start stuffing! (I put about a couple of tablespoons of filling in each shells).  
  4. Pour 1 jar of sauce into two (because you'll probably need two) baking pans, just covering the bottom.  Place your stuffed shells on top.  Cover your shells with the remaining sauce.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, uncover, top with cheeze, and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with a huge salad, whole grain bread and ENJOY!  

Boil your shells until al dente

Making the filling

Elements are ready - time to start stuffing!

Lots of stuffed shells

Ready for the oven

Done and YUMMY


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  3. I just made this and WOW! I love them! I had to make a few substitutions (I had roasted cashews...I used veggie parmesan cheese instead of nutritional yeast) and it still came out fantastic. I must have a small food processor (Cuisinart Classic?) and had to halve the filling recipe for it to fit. My husband couldn't believe these were healthy and still tasted great. Thanks for posting this! (I found it on pinterest btw.)