One of the most popular trends in food preparation is creative ways to spin Nutritionally Dense, plant-based foods. And so I frequently head to my kitchen with that being the desired goal….Something full of flavor, new and unique, easy to prepare, but using healthful plants. Today was the day. My family frequently requests Italian foods, pastas, and pizza. With each ask, I have a subtle feeling of nervousness, knowing there will likely be the dreaded pasta, sausage, pizza crust, cheese, and all things yummy, that I darned well know create an unhealthy gut with lots of bloating and inflammation. But, it’s nearly impossible to say “no” to my beautiful children and husband…and I know you understand that routine too! After all, we love through our food. I could actually write an entire tome on that subject. But I digress…

Italian food is one of the most popular dining choices. And, with that, an idea was born. I’ve used bulgur wheat in Mexican Food!!!..A-HA! What’s good for the taco must also be great for the penne!  Hold on to your spatulas! I’m eliminating at least one issue…Italian Sausage and its typical seasonings. To the pork lovers of the world, I’m not saying all pork is bad, but the typical Italian Sausage carries significant amounts of sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and saturated fat from a source that likely was not pasture grazed without pesticides and free of hormones. That adds another piece of complication.

Today, I’ve transformed sausage, and I’m guessing your family will love you and won’t even realize their meal has been transformed by bulgur wheat! The key is to keep the other elements in place…small steps here, after all Rome wasn’t built in a day! I’ve seen it time and again…My family will eat a bulgar wheat taco (yes with the unhealthy shells and cheese shreds) and pointedly ask, “are we eating meat or a Pacer Kristen creation?”….that’s code for a plant-based alternative! You can do this too!

Let’s get cooking! My Challenge for you?…Create Bulgar Wheat Italian Sausage and add it to your favorite Italian recipe. Pizza, penne, lasagna, your choice! Just be prepared to be surprise…and keep our food transformation secret!

BULGAR WHEAT

If you’re unfamiliar with bulgar wheat, it’s time to get acquainted. Bulgar wheat, unlike many whole wheat products, has not been stripped of its bran and germ. This both allows its texture to closely resemble ground beef, and it best retains the nutrients yielding bulgar wheat a super source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients! That being said, like whole wheat products, bulgar wheat does still contain gluten, so those who are gluten sensitive or suffering from celiac, would want to use this recipe with quinoa or beans in place of the bulgar wheat.

BULGAR WHEAT ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Author: Kristen Tinker

Makes: approximately 3 cups

INGREDIENTS

2 cups water or organic vegetable broth
1 cups bulgar wheat (or 2 cups cooked bulgar wheat); recipe will yield about 1/2 cup extra
2 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp parsley
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (more for spicy sausage)
3/4 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, warm water or broth over high heat. Once boiling, add bulgur wheat, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes until bulgar wheat has softened and expanded. Watch carefully to prevent overcooking. Remove from heat once Bulgar wheat has absorbed all liquid. Fluff with wooden spoon (measure out 2 cups…you may have extra), add spices and stir to incorporate. Adjust seasonings to taste and use immediately in your favorite Italian recipe or store in a glass dish, refrigerated, for later use. Keeps 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

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