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Pasta alternatives


Doodad
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My wife is on meds now for a heart condition that thankfully is not life threatening, but requires some additional lifestyle changes including lowering carbs. She is already fairly frugal on carbs, but this reinforces that.

So, she wants ravioli. What can I do? I am having trouble thinking outside the box on this one. Sure, lettuce cups or such. What else?

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This has been a big focus area for the avant-garde/molecular people, as well as for the food corporations. I've seen several variants of transglutaminase pasta made from shrimp and other proteins, along with ravioli and dumplings that use thinly sliced fruits and vegetables as skins. And in the health-food section of the grocery store where I shop, they have all sorts of wheat-free pastas made from all sorts of stuff.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This has been a big focus area for the avant-garde/molecular people, as well as for the food corporations. I've seen several variants of transglutaminase pasta made from shrimp and other proteins, along with ravioli and dumplings that use thinly sliced fruits and vegetables as skins. And in the health-food section of the grocery store where I shop, they have all sorts of wheat-free pastas made from all sorts of stuff.

And that is where I figured this might lead me. Some pearls or orb creations. I saw Morimoto once thinly slice tofu and was somehow able to fold it and seal, but that just sounds like a disaster.

I have seen the alt pastas, but they all still retain the carbs. Supposedly dreamfield pasta is for diabetics, but it looks questionable as well.

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My mother is a diabetic, we use nut flours as replacements for wheat but haven't tried any raviolis.

We use julienned zuchini/summer squash as a substitute for pasta like spaghetti.

Sliced thin for manicotti and lasagne, zuchini boats for shells. Eggplant can also be used the same way. Anything firm enough to hold up to julienning and then being heated and tossed with a sauce should work.

Cauliflower has been used as a sub for rice and bettini. You can also grate broccoli or julienne the stalks.

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... a heart condition that thankfully is not life threatening, but requires some additional lifestyle changes including lowering carbs.  She is already fairly frugal on carbs, but this reinforces that.

So, she wants ravioli.  ...

I'd seek specific, qualified medical advice.

Specific to the condition, the medication and this particular patient.

General advice to "reduce" is rarely meant to be applied to patients who are already light on those food groups.

Get specific quantified recommendations.

Without quantification, there is too much scope for misunderstanding.

Fats, oils and sugars are much more likely to be met with a professionally raised eyebrow than a little bit of pasta.

Its most unlikely that pasta would be harmful - unless consumed to excess.

And it would sound as though this patient is further from any definition of 'excess' than most.

I'd beware of substituting things like ground nuts - because they generally have a high oil/fat content.

My supposition would be that a little pasta (especially if wholemeal and not swimming in oil or butter) wouldn't be a very bad thing.

And if it cheers up the patient, any slight harm would be easily outweighed by the positive good it was thereby doing ...

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I'm wondering what you mean by lowering carbs, as well. Do you just mean refined carbs, or carbs altogether?

Ravioli, specifically, is tougher than my other pasta-replacement solutions.

Gnocchi is versatile; you can use ricotta, or nut flours. Depending on the answer to the first question, sweet potato could be used in place of potato.

Shredded zucchini makes a great "noodle".

As fatguy said, there is transglutaminase pasta -- I'm fairly certain that's what Richard Blais did for his "impasta".

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I guess to me the question is what is the attractive part of the ravioli to the patient?

If it is the filling, you can make gnudi or malfatti, which is essentially the filling without the pasta, and sauce it.

If it is the pasta, she is unlikely (I would think) to be attracted by substitutes like vegetables, and you have to look at grain based pasta substitutes like quinoa that try to mimic wheat flour.

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I was on a low carb diet 5 years ago and lost 50 lbs. in a year. During the diet, I started adding in some carbs and when I wanted pasta, I always used Dreamfields. It really is pretty good. I still use it when I can, it is not always easy to find these days. It is my dried pasta of choice.

Donna

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How about wonton skins? They still have some carbs, but once you get the filling in, you can trim them very close. They're very thin, and bound to have, overall, fewer carbs than a much thicker pasta.

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You could try tofu skins/bean curd sheets. In a well-stocked Asian market you might even be able to get a variety of textures. Or rice paper sheets (like those used for Vietnamese salad rolls), which won't be carb-free, but should be less carbs than pasta. Or use egg to make very thin omelette wrappers.

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