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If you’re a pasta lover like me, transitioning to a low-carb or ketogenic diet can feel like you’re being forced to give up your favorite foods. While I stand firmly in my position that I CAN eat whatever I want, but I CHOOSE to eat foods that are better for my body, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss some of those “naughty” foods.

Luckily I’ve found a product that makes me feel like I’m eating pasta without all the negative effects of all those carbs: konjac noodles!

Konjac is a Japanese plant with a root that is extremely high in fiber and can be used to create noodles that have a strong resemblance to al dente pasta. Pretty much every gram of carbohydrate in konjac is fiber, resulting in a zero net carb food that also supplies lots of fiber and serves as an excellent carrier for my favorite pasta sauce – Alfredo!

skinny pasta

Skinny Pasta with Alfredo sauce, kale sauteed in bacon grease and smoked wild salmon.

I’ve tried several different brands of konjac noodle and so far my favorite is the Skinny Pasta brand. It doesn’t have the “off” aroma that I’ve gotten from some other brands and the preparation is super fast – much quicker than traditional pasta. Simply open the bag, rinse under running water for 1 minute, then heat in a pan for 2-3 minutes. Boom. Pasta.

Konjac noodles have a firm but squishy consistency, a bit like squid or octopus. There’s no real flavor to them on their own, so make sure whatever sauce you serve them with is flavorful.

Pros:

  • Has the consistency of and can be used just like pasta.

  • Holds on well to sauces.

  • Fast and easy to make.

  • Zero net carb, extremely low calorie and high in fiber.

  • Fairly long shelf life.

  • Comes in a variety of shapes including fettuccine, spaghetti and rice shape.

Cons:

  • Price. It is fairly expensive, which can make it costly to make to serve a whole family. The most consistent price I’ve found so far for the Skinny Pasta brand is here for the six-bag variety pack. At the current price this works out to $4 per 9.52 oz bag. Vitacost sometimes has them on sale and you can pick them up individually at a good price. Currently Vitacost has it for $3.43 per bag which is pretty darn good and I plan to stock up. If you use Rakuten and shop at Vitacost you can get money back, too! (Note: you may see the Vitacost brand konjac/shirataki noodle and it is much less expensive. Please feel free to try it, but I found the aroma a little off-putting and am happy to pay a little bit more for Skinny Pasta.)

  • Konjac noodles are not easy to cut like wheat pasta. If you don’t like the noodle length, I recommend cutting it with scissors prior to plating.

  • Some people have a strong reaction to the type of fiber in konjac. A friend of mine described the experience as turning his “colon in to a fire hose.” I have eaten a whole package myself in one sitting with no ill effects, but to test this on yourself you might try eating half a package and see how your body responds.

skinnypasta

Summary

As far as keto “look-alikes” for high carb foods go, Skinny Pasta is pretty impressive. Assuming you don’t have the “fire hose” experience it’s a fantastic substitute. The first time I tried it I was pretty apprehensive because I knew it wasn’t “real” pasta and it made it hard to enjoy purely because of my mindset. But as my commitment to a keto lifestyle has strengthened, I’ve truly come to appreciate all it is. I use Skinny Pasta about once a month to get my Italian on!

I no longer feel pasta deprived with Skinny Pasta. No, it does not produce the “carb high” of regular pasta – and that’s a GREAT thing. You can feel like you are indulging without the inflammation, weight gain or low energy consequences.

Hi-yah!

 

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I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friendly neighborhood farmer who occasionally offers to his inner circle fine items he makes from his pastured meats like bacon, bratwurst and sausage. Recently I got a few pounds of an amazing somewhat hot Italian sausage that he made. At the same time, I ended up in possession of a large number of red, orange and yellow bell peppers (Sprouts had a sale on not-so-perfect but organic peppers).

There was only one thing to do.

Of course if I was going to make sausage and peppers I needed something to display them on. It had to be a potato, and for the most eye pleasing plating, they needed to be turned into hash browns. Welcome to the most delicious sausage and peppers ever. It’s simple and it’s satisfying. You’re welcome.

sausagepeppers

KKF Sausage & Peppers with Hash Browns

1 pound of the best quality sausage links you can get your hands on (raw)*

2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)

4 bell peppers (mix of red, yellow and orange), thinly sliced

4 T butter

2 T olive oil

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

2 t paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the sausages for about 30 minutes. Shred the potatoes in your food processor. Move the spuds to a large bowl and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and a little salt and pepper (you can always add more later.) Melt 2 T of the butter in a cast iron pan over high heat and add the oil. Spread the potato mix over the fat and cover. Let it sit, undisturbed for about five minutes, then reduce heat to low and give it another 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are mostly soft. Cover and set aside.

In another cast iron pan melt another 2 T of butter. When it is nice and hot add the sausage and brown them up on all sides. I usually let them go about two minutes or so, then roll them until they are brown and crunchy looking all the way around. Move to a cutting board and let them cool. In the leftover butter and juices from the sausages, add your sliced peppers. (You can add more fat if needed but usually what’s left is sufficient.) Sauté the peppers with about a half a teaspoon of salt until they are just softened.

While your peppers are cooking and your sausages are cool enough to touch, slice them on the diagonal in about one inch slices. When the peppers are done, add the sausages back to the pan and heat through.

To serve, layer a serving of hash browns (crunchy side up if you please) on the plate and pile peppers and sausage medallions on top. Delicious!
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*This is the most important element of this recipe. Your sausage and peppers will only be as good as your sausages.

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