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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

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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Test subject Bill asked for Bolognese sauce last week. It’s always nice to get a request…and then NAIL IT. This sauce was a thing of beauty. I recommend serving it over homemade pasta for best results! Note: a good Bolognese takes time. Don’t rush it, and you will be rewarded.

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KKF Bolognese Sauce

1 lb ground beef

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

5 cloves garlic

2 t curry powder

2 small bay leaves

1.5 cups red wine

14 oz tomato paste

Bunch thyme, tied together tightly with string

2 T olive oil

1.5-2c water

½ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Buzz your onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the food processor until you have a chunky paste. Warm the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the garlicky mirepoix. Hit it with a big pinch of salt. Cook gently for at least 20 minutes, letting the flavors develop. Add the ground beef (you’re using grass fed beef, right?) and give it a good strong stir, blending it well with the veggies. Let it cook, stirring frequently, for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for another few minutes, then add the wine. Bring the mixture to a light simmer and hold for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently, then add about half a cup of the water. Add the curry powder, thyme and bay leaves.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer and give it some time, at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently, before adding another half cup of water. Monitor your sauce, adding water as necessary when it reduces, and tasting and adjusting salt and pepper as desired. The longer you can let it go the better it will be. Mine probably went in this phase for about two hours.

You want to end up with a fairly thick, uniform sauce with very, very small chunks of the ground beef. You don’t want to see big chunks of anything. Once you are happy with the consistency and flavor of your sauce you are almost done. Just one more finishing touch…

Slowly stir in half a cup of heavy cream and let it just heat through before serving. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a smile.

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