That’s right. You read that recipe title correctly. It says “Vegan.”

Michael recently had a doctor’s visit that didn’t go so great. His doctor was concerned with his A1C level and told Michael that he needed to make some major changes in his lifestyle.

We talked over various dietary changes that we could make. Michael has followed a low-carb plan for years – but not as strictly as he should. We talked to a friend who had recently lowered his A1C through diet and other changes and his wife (my sweet cousin) told me that they had turned to a vegan lifestyle and it had really helped her husband to turn his health issues around – and pretty quickly. She recommended some documentaries for us to watch as well as several really great cookbooks.

I am no stranger to cooking for a vegan. Elizabeth was vegan for about three months when she was in the eighth grade. So I knew the restrictions and I knew there were vegan alternatives to a lot of foods.

But to cook this way for our entire family? That really is the only way that I knew that we could be successful. I mean, who wants to cook two separate meals every single time?

Not me.

At the same time, we also decided to give up soft drinks. Anyone who knows me knows that this was the hardest part for me. I’m a hard-core Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Mountain Dew addict. And my family went through an embarrassing number of 2-liters each week. Obscene, really

But we did that, too. We stopped cold turkey. Water – mostly plain for me, but doctored up with Crystal Light for the family. Now, don’t get me wrong. Christopher is nineteen. He has a truck and a credit card and he knows the way to Taco Bell. But at home, he’s eating and drinking the same things the rest of us are.

I made this dish the first night we were “all-the-way” vegan. It was loved by everybody!

Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

  • 1 lb. of bowtie pasta
  • 2 cans of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 jar of roasted red bell pepper strips, drained
  • 1 12-oz. bag of frozen chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons of plant butter (or other vegan butter)
  • 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups of unsweetened cashew milk
  • salt and pepper

In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil and add the pasta and frozen spinach. Boil for 14 minutes – or to your desired tenderness.

While pasta is boiling, melt butter in a large skillet. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and stir together for 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Add the milk – one cup at a time – whisking after each cup until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to whisk until it is a gravy consistency.

Add the drained artichokes and bell pepper strips and stir to combine.

When pasta is done, drained pasta and spinach and add to the skillet, stirring to combine.

Well Duh #1: This is just a bechamel sauce made with plant-based ingredients.

Well Duh #2: DO NOT add all the milk at once. It will never thicken properly. Add one cup at a time and wait until thickened to add the next.

Well Duh #3: Wouldn’t this be pretty at Christmas?

This was gobbled up and at least 2 members of my family asked if it was really vegan. I was happy to report that it was!

This has been a really big change for us in lots of ways. But I’m proud of my tribe for embracing this huge difference!