It probably seems strange to follow a cheesecake post with one that promises so many healthful benefits but I’m a firm believer that any little bit helps in the grand scheme of things and moderation is key. I’ve been trying, by way of baby steps, to incorporate more healthful decisions in my life. I have just turned 40 and as someone who loves to cook and eat as much as I do I will admit that there are more than a few lifestyle changes needed in my future. So I’ve started with small changes. I begin each day with lemon water. Lemon water is reported to have many health benefits including aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, flushing toxins, etc. At the very least I figure I’m getting more Vitamin C and starting each day hydrated. After my lemon water I move on to my daily latté. I’m careful to keep my caffeine intake low, usually only one cup a day, maybe two at the most. I’ve stopped dumping a teaspoon of sugar in each time. As a family we’ve made the decision to switch to brown basmati rice and have severely limited our pasta consumption to limit our intake of high carbohydrate foods.
I’m not going to lie, we do miss eating pasta dishes but the alternatives we’ve tried so far; whole wheat, rice, and bean based pastas have been a bust in both taste and texture. So much so that when I got invited to try out the new Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains I was really hesitant and skeptical. What if I tried the product and then found that it was like all the other alternative pastas that I had already tried? I’ve learned from previous experience that writing a blog post about a product or gadget that I didn’t like is a very tough thing to do and I’m not going to patronize my readers or put on a show like a trained monkey. Sure, I was treated to an amazing evening with Canadian chef Lynn Crawford…but what I got out of the evening was a new way to feed my family. I’m really excited to have a new and delicious pasta alternative that doesn’t taste or feel like cardboard. Ancient Grains pasta is quite delicious and it comes in three types; Rotini, Spaghetti, and Spaghettini. Right now it is only available in Western Canada but hopefully soon all of Canada will be on board.
In addition to 100% Canadian whole wheat, the Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta contains…drum roll…five Ancient Grains all of which bring their own unique flavours and nutritional benefits:
Quinoa: Dating back to the 13th century South American Inca Empire, quinoa is high in fibre, protein and minerals – including magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron – and low on the glycemic index.
Amaranth: Native to the Americas and prized by Aztec civilization, amaranth is rich in protein, containing all the essential amino acids, key vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.
Teff: Originating in Ethiopia and Eritrea between 4,000 BCE and 1,000 BCE, this poppy seed-sized grain is high in protein, fibre, calcium, thiamin and iron.
Sorghum: Domesticated in Northeastern Africa more than 5,000 years ago, sorghum – a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin and magnesium – is known to support digestive health, help fight cardiovascular disease and help control blood sugar levels.
Millet: Cultivated 4,000 years ago from wild West African grass, this nutty-flavoured grain is known to be heart healthy, containing a high level of protein, magnesium and niacin. Alkalizing to the body, millet is considered one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available.
This pasta stuff is really kind of cool…it’s non GMO, all natural with no preservatives, low in fat, no sodium or trans fats. It contains 75% of your daily recommended whole grain servings AND 32% of your required daily fibre in one 85 gram serving.
Chilled Noodle Salad with Ginger Wasabi Dressing (from Chef Lynn Crawford)
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 8 min Servings: 4
1 pkg (340 g) Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains Spaghettini
2 cups (500 ml) snow peas, thinly sliced diagonally
1 cup (250 ml) shelled edamame
1 small English cucumber
2 cups (500 ml) napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup (250 ml) red pepper, cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) cilantro leaves
2 tbsp (30 ml) black sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon zest
2 tsp (10 ml) brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil
1 tsp (5 ml) grated fresh ginger
wasabi to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. Rinse under cold water until well chilled; transfer to large bowl and set aside.
- In a pot of boiling water, cook snow peas and edamame until tender-crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water until well chilled; set aside.
- Meanwhile, halve the cucumber lengthwise and use the end of a spoon to scoop and discard seeds; cut cucumber into julienne strips.
- Ginger-Wasabi Dressing: Whisk together rice vinegar, canola oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, sesame oil and ginger. Season with wasabi to taste.
- Add cucumber, snow peas, edamame, napa cabbage, red pepper, green onions and avocado to noodles; toss with enough dressing to coat.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds.
Tip: If you have time, you can chill the noodle dish by refrigerating for 1 to 4 hours.
Per serving: 590 calories, 19 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 710 mg sodium,
To get the most out of your pasta experience here are 10 Whole Grain Pasta Cooking Tips from Chef Lynn Crawford:
- Watch your cooking time: Pasta should be cooked according to the cook time guide on the package to achieve the ideal al dente texture. For a professional twist, cut one to two minutes off the suggested cooking time, drain and finish off cooking your pasta in the sauce.
- Skip the oil: There is no need to add oil to your cooking water. Despite popular belief, this actually takes away from the pasta’s final texture and ability to adhere to the sauce. Skip the oil and embrace the starchiness of your pasta.
- Water your pasta: When cooking pasta, use a large pot. As basic as it sounds, it will make a difference in the outcome of your pasta. You will need one litre of water to about 100 grams of pasta. Using a large pot will give the pasta room to boil and help keep the noodles from sticking together.
- Think salty sea: Add a generous amount of sea salt to the boiling water to ensure your pasta is well seasoned. You may even want to taste the water before adding your pasta to make sure there is enough salt.
- Avoid rinsing: For hot pasta dishes, never rinse the pasta after cooking in order to retain the starch and enable warm sauces to better adhere to the pasta.
- Create the perfect pair: Delicate pasta shapes go well with delicate sauces, and heartier, ridged shapes pair well with richer sauces and ragus. For example, try long thin pasta, such as spaghetti, with a classic marinara sauce. Penne, ziti or rigatoni lend themselves to thicker sauces with more texture, such as a ragu Bolognese.
- Embrace the texture: Whole grain pasta has a hearty, firm texture that’s perfect for cold or chilled recipes and marinates well in tangy dressings. The firmness of the noodles also provides a good base for both crunchy and juicy fresh vegetables.
- Top it off: With a nutty, rich flavour, whole grain pasta can take on other strong, complex flavours. Ingredients that pair well with whole grain pasta include garlic, chili, anchovies, rich pesto sauces, and bitter or dark leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard and radicchio.
- Take the heat: When preparing hot pasta recipes, keep your serving plates or bowls warm in an oven set to a low temperature until you’re ready to serve. This will ensure that your final dish stays nice and hot.
- Crank up the flavour: Whole grain pasta is an easy base on which to build a healthy and delicious meal. Incorporate a lean protein, plenty of fresh vegetables, and seasoning with big flavours in the pasta for an even more nutritious and satisfying dish.
We really had a great night with Chef Lynn Crawford at SAIT Culinary Campus. She kept us on our toes as well as keeping us giggling like teenagers all night long. I would really like to thank Catelli for the fun experience, for feeding us, and for the cool pasta swag.