Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting Past the Pasta



Growing up I looked forward to spaghetti made with Spatini spaghetti sauce mix, my mom’s cottage cheese lasagna, and her gumbo served over rice. I miss stuffed shells, ravioli, mac and cheese, even Kraft out of the blue box. No Olive Garden either. Sniff. Whaa.  Okay, I am over it. Sort of.
Ten years ago, when I first gave up wheat pasta due to my allergies, I substituted yucky, mushy rice pasta elbows for everything I missed. Not much on the grocery shelves back then and I was desperate.  Now there are plenty of options. Lasagna noodles, jumbo shells, the fancy twirly kind. Even the texture has improved.

But I discovered rice’s dirty little secret and it wasn’t carbs. It was, GASP, Arsenic! 


I had heard about arsenic through the play and the 1944 movie, Arsenic and Old Lace, about two maiden aunts who poisoned old men as an act of "charity." Arsenic was the go-to rat poison back in the day. Did I say it loud enough? RAT POISON.

Arsenic in my rice? Here I was, being healthy, eating brown rice products as my sole substitute and I discover “too much of a good thing” is true. Ack! Consumer Reports report on arsenic and rice here

Have I scared you? Read the report and calm down. But only a little.  Let's face it, carbs are carbs. Even without the warning, I was still not losing the weight I needed to lose. Too many carbs.

But, but, but! What to do? I couldn't go cold turkey on spaghetti sauce! What about Mom's lasagna? 

That's when Pinterest saved me.  If you don't know what Pinterest is, go here Seekerville Pinterest article and then come back. I will wait for you.

I learned there are plenty of folks dealing with the same struggles. They have found ways around giving up pasta:

Broccoli slaw for rice.  Need to know more about broccoli slaw? Read Ruthy's Broccoli Slaw Need-to-know post.

Spaghetti squash for spaghetti noodles.
How to cook spaghetti squash

Notice a theme here. Fresh veggies replace pasta! Veggies, those things that grow in gardens and don't come in a box. Veggies, those things loaded with vitamins and fiber.  Revelation!

And zucchini squash for lasagna! So I set about creating my own lasagna recipe to suit my tastes.

First I peeled zucchini and then just kept slicing it with the veggie peeler.  You can also use a mandolin cutter to get wider strips or one of those crazy things AS SEEN ON TV.



Then, and this is the most important part. Lay the strips on paper towels and cover with more paper towels to absorb all the moisture. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. Pasta will absorb water in recipes but veggies contribute to it and you will end up with a more liquidy recipe than you probably want if you skip this step. Do NOT skip this step!

Substitute the strips in your favorite lasagna recipe. Just use less sauce since the "noodles" will make things a bit soupy and cook about fifteen minutes longer.   And, lookie, just like the real thing!
It slices, looks, and smells like the real thing. And it has more vitamins!
Hope this has helped those who love their pasta but their pasta doesn't love them.

Until next time, The GAL, living the gluten-free and allergy challenged life

17 comments:

  1. I love this!! Love the pictures and Cary Grant an arsenic in my rice!! Ok, that last part was a lie.

    But this is such a great post! Informative and ending with a pretty picture.... MMMMMM.

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    1. I only wish I had discovered this way to sneak veggies into my kids diet back in the day.

      And Cary Grant? Give me a good Cary Grant movie any day and I can almost forget I can't eat pasta!

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  2. I've never tried making pasta from squash. I've heard of it of course, but just haven't tried it. How does it work as leftovers? Does the squash pasta get too mushy sitting in the sauce?

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    1. Spaghetti squash is like any other vegetable. I would store it in a covered bowl, well drained and then put the sauce on. Here is another article on spaghetti squash coincidently in our paper this morning.

      http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/05/17/2897225/tasteful-garden-spaghetti-squash.html

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  3. Oh man. They just don't make actors like they used to. Cary Grant is one of my all time faves. Was I born a generation too late?

    And I'll have to try vegetable substitutes for pasta again. The last time I tried, my family rebelled. Vigorously. It took years - literally - for them to trust my lasagna again. And I didn't even try to sneak the veggies in! I was up front with them!

    But it also works better for me if I don't try to get them to pretend it's pasta. I even leave the "spaghetti" part out of the name "spaghetti squash". It's squash.

    They're a suspicious bunch.

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    1. Rightly so. I have to laugh at all the cookbooks out there suggesting ways to hide the veggies. Children will never trust their mamas again.

      I don't pretend either.

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  4. So that's what the big huge zuccini are for--I will buy some and try this recipe. Thanks, Julie!

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  5. That's what the mid-summer zucchini overrun is for! Bigger zucchini definitely make the chore easier.

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  6. In never thought to try this in lasagna! Very cool. I'll definitely try it. As long as I can have my cheese, I'll be happy. :) Thanks, Julie!!

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    1. Cheese makes everything better! That's the motto in our house!

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  7. I'm laughing and loving this! My first spaghetti squash salad was at a picnic and I loved it. It was done with cold marinara and I don't know what all...sausage and cheese and it was like the best thing ever....

    But no one in my house would touch it.

    But once we discovered grilled veggies.... corn, zucchini, squashes, beans, asparagus, etc.... oh my stars, everyone dives for the veggies first. We could actually use two grills these days because they're so popular.

    Julie, what a great idea! I wonder if Dave would like it... I might try it to see because he's pretty game about things. And kind of cute.

    Low carb and no gluten diets are a test of wills, but I always feel better physically when I get rid of all my high sugar/high flour treats.... Although I'll have them once in a while again when I get rid of this ten pounds on my body... and my shorts ZIPPER without acrobatic contortions.

    :)

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    1. Grilling is so much more...manly? But yes, there is something about the grill that makes everything better.

      I probably have another seven pounds to go. But it also involves cutting out all sugar. Ugh.

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  8. I like veggies in my lasagna - chunky ones I can see - but plenty of sauce. sauce and cheese makes the world go round and the veggies go down...I like spaghetti squash(learned the hard way about squishing the water out - wasn't a pretty sight on the plate)but don't think I want it in my lasagna..like it with sauce and veggies and italian sausage and cheese stuffed back in the shell and baked :-)

    started pride prejudice and cheese grits- good so far but only 8% into it according to Kindle - my friend's 5 yr old doesn't take hints to 'leave me alone I'm reading' very well plus it's hard to concentrate on reading when he's shaking his booty to 'I'm sexy and I know it' that keeps coming on the cable music channel! kid is just too cute and he's got some moves!
    Susanna

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    1. No, spaghetti squash is used for spaghetti and not for lasagna for a reason. Hmm, should we call zucchini, lasagna zucchini from now on?

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    2. hmm I think I could handle slices of zucchini in place of some of the lasagna noodles or maybe all just depends. I know to drain the spaghetti squash though-that was a mess!
      Susanna

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