I’m an east coast girl and I grew up on pasta. Pasta was a staple in my kitchen every Sunday afternoon. A big pot of sauce would be simmering away for hours that we would dip our Italian bread into as we waited hungrily for the main Sunday meal to be served. I loved pasta and cheese and I thought it loved me back. After struggling for more than two decades with chronic strep throat, tonsillitis and ear infections I realized that pasta and the cheese that went along with it weren’t doing me any favors. Just as with my story, many of us have figured out along the way that gluten and dairy make us feel bad.
Gluten and dairy can cause fatigue, digestive upset, congestion, and leave us hugging our tummies with remorse the following day.
Many of us have developed a love hate relationship with pasta. We love it and we crave it but more often than not it sits there like a rock in our digestive system. Then we’re up all night wondering what in the world possessed us to order it off the menu in the first place. Pasta has this uncanny way of adhering to our tummies contributing to bloating and belly fat.
It is true that traditional pastas can contribute to inflammation being laden with wheat, gluten, milk, cream, cheese and cured meats.
Chances are that at one point in your life traditional pasta worked for you. Maybe now your body has changed and it doesn’t metabolize quite like it did in the past. That’s okay, it’s simply time to make some adjustments. Instead of attempting to eat the same old thing and feeling bad as a result…try respecting the changes that your body has made and adapt to them.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that a food doesn’t make you feel good anymore and switch to a replacement that does.
Remember the definition of insanity; continuing to repeat the same behavior and expecting different results.
Question: What’s a girl to do when she’s craving a bowl of pasta?
Answer: She gets savvy and makes a better choice for her. One that hits the craving head on but does not leave her reeling from a pasta hangover the following day.
Bottom line: You can still mange! mange! Simply choose healthier options that do not interfere with your body’s ability to function.
I’ve got three fantastic pasta alternatives for you today. Three healing recipes that are different ways for you to prepare and eat pasta without the guilt.
Zucchini noodles in a creamy pepper sauce
Creamy Pepper Sauce:
4 Red/Orange/Yellow bell peppers
¼ cup of canned ‘light’ coconut milk
1/3 cup Sundried tomatoes in oil
⅓ Diced onion
¼ Lemon, juiced
Add chopped raw peppers, coconut milk, sundried tomatoes, onion and lemon juice to food processor. Blend until smooth and add salt to taste.
Use a spiralizer to make ‘zoodles’ out of the zucchini. (learn how to spiralize vegetables HERE)
Cook zucchini noodles on the stovetop on medium-high heat until soft.
* You can cook them for a shorter period of time so they are firmer, or you can cook them a little longer so they are soft and melt in your mouth.
Pour Pepper Sauce over zucchini noodles stir until warm and serve.
Spaghetti Squash with Vegan Pesto
1 large or 2 small spaghetti squash
8oz vegan pesto
Trim the ends off the spaghetti squash and slice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and disregard. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash on a cookie sheet face up in oven and bake for 35 minutes. A knife inserted in the center will pierce it easily but it should still be a little crunchy. If you over cook it the noodles will be mushy instead of firm. Leave it on top of the oven to cool. Once cooled, hold the squash in one hand and scrape it with a fork with the other. As you rake the fork through the squash it shreds into noodles.
For the pesto, you can make your own or buy it fresh at Whole Foods or Trader Joes.
Conventional pesto contains cheese, the vegan varieties replaces the cheese with either nuts or seeds.
Vegan Pesto – Dairy Free – Makes 1 cup of pesto
1 ½ cup fresh basil, packed
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup water
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon red onion chopped small
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
In a saucepan over medium heat toast walnuts until golden brown, remove from heat and add all ingredients to food processor. Blend well.
Red Lentil Pasta Primavera with Tomato sauce
12oz bag red lentil pasta (Sprouts or Trader Joes) There should only be one ingredient red lentils.
1 yellow bell pepper chopped into small cubes
1 yellow onion chopped
1 zucchini diced into ½ inch cubes
½ cup frozen peas
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add pasta. Let cook for 8-10minutes or until tender. Drain off liquid.
In a large saucepan sauté pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add peas and zucchini, stir for an additional 3-5minutes. Add your favorite tomato sauce and mix well, remove from heat. Pour cooked pasta over the mixture, toss and serve.
A Note about prepared Tomato sauces:
Be sure to read the labels carefully. Many brands use citric acid as a preservative. Citric acid is derived from a chemical source and is not body friendly.
Be persistent with your label reading until you find a sauce that has clean ingredients and no citric acid.
These look delicious, Dr. Purcell. Thank you! My husband loves pasta and I’ve been trying to convert him to the zucchini noodles and spaghettis squash. These recipes will help. We’ve tried the TJ’s red lentil pasta noodles and they’re pretty good. Thanks for the tip on the citric acid.