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Easy Meals for Holiday Weekends 

As spring eases into summer with frequently warmer days and delightfully cool nights, you will enjoy this delicious gluten-free, vegan Spinach and Mushroom Pasta. (And if you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out for a simple yet satisfying meal.)

I occasionally make a dish with shiitake mushrooms because I love that umami flavor and because their well-documented health benefits include immune support and anti-inflammatory defense. Many vegans and vegetarians see mushrooms as a meat replacement. Although I personally don’t think of them as an instead-of-meat choice, they do add texture, volume, and another layer of flavor to this dish that will be welcome to any mushroom lover.

My faithful readers know that my husband enjoys the flavor of mushrooms but hates their texture—and I think that’s true for a number of folks. For that reason, I usually run the mushrooms through a food processor, so they disappear in the final dish. This time I sliced them because slices are more photogenic, but suit yourself when you try out this recipe!

I simmer the mushrooms in cooking sherry until the alcohol cooks off, but you can also cook them in a favorite white or red wine to suit your tastebuds.

Recently I’ve switched to the Andean brand of pastas for gluten-free cooking that holds up well and tastes just fine—as long as you’ve made the switch to gluten-free and have surrendered your longing for traditional noodles. I prefer the Andean pastas because they mix rice with quinoa. The quinoa gives the pasta added protein and stability, but I find all-quinoa pasta difficult to digest.

Enjoy this gluten-free, vegan Spinach and Mushroom Pasta—or perhaps for you it’s just easy and delicious Spinach Pasta!


(Or just spinach!)

Preparation time: 30 to 40 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

You could top this pasta dish with vegan parmesan. Though I’m not a fan of vegan cheeses myself, you might want to add some nutritional yeast for a hint-of-cheese flavor. For me, the pine nuts are the perfect finishing touch.

Cook’s Tip: 1. If you wish, roast the pine nuts for 3 or 4 minutes in a rimmed pan at 350°F. 2. Gluten-free pastas made from quinoa do not have to be rinsed after cooking the way that all-rice pastas do.

8 to 12 ounces gluten-free fusilli pasta
5 to 10 ounces of shiitake mushrooms
1 large leek bulb plus an inch of the light-green shank
2 tablespoons avocado oil
½ to ¾ cup sherry or wine
1 pound fresh baby spinach
5 ounces arugula (optional)
3 cloves garlic
1 or 2 handfuls of fresh basil
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, divided
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 to tablespoons of olive oil
1½ to 2½ teaspoons mineral salt, divided
¼ cup or more pine nuts
1 or 2 grinds of black pepper (optional)

1. Fill a large stock pot about ⅔ full with water, add 1 teaspoon salt, cover, and heat on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and follow directions on the package. Quinoa pasta will take 11 to 13 minutes to become al dente and digestible.

2. While the water is heating, rinse and slice the mushrooms or mince them by pulsing them in a food processor. Wash and thinly slice the leek. Heat a large frying pan or soup pot on medium- l heat. Add the avocado oil to the pan with the sliced leek and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it turns golden.

3. Add the mushrooms with the sherry or wine and let the liquid simmer uncovered until it cooks away. While the mushrooms are cooking, rinse the spinach and arugula (if necessary). Peel the garlic for use in a garlic press (or, if you prefer, finely chop the garlic). Chop the basil fairly finely.

4. Once the liquid has cooked off the mushrooms, add 1 cup of the vegan milk into the pot and turn the heat down to warm. Add the arrowroot to the second cup of almond or coconut milk still in the measuring cup and whisk this until the mixture is completely smooth—no lumps at all. Then add the milk/arrowroot mixture to the pot along with the pressed or chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Increase the heat to medium low while you stir in the spinach and arugula. Cover the pot and cook the greens 3 to 5 minutes until they are wilted.

5. When the pasta becomes tender enough to pierce with a fork, pour it into a colander, straining off the cooking water. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle on ½ teaspoon salt, and lightly toss the pasta. Add the vegetable mixture and toss the pasta again. Add the basil and toss once again. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling the pine nuts on top of each serving.

Ayurvedic Note: Mushrooms are not included in traditional Ayurvedic cuisine; however, modern practitioners respect their health benefits. Mushrooms increase vata because they are so chewy, so they should be cooked well until tender.




2 Responses

  1. Martina says:

    Just reading this recipe it seems mouthwatering! I’m gonna have to try it!