Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Antipasto Pasta

Let's talk carbs. Specifically pasta.

Yes the whole point of this diet is to cut out a lot of carbs and all sugar but you can still have carbs there are just a lot of rules. First you can only have carbs one meal out of the day, preferably for lunch when your metabolism is working harder. That means one carb/low fat meal and one protein meal a day. Secondly only whole grain carbs are allowed, brown rice and whole wheat pasta for example. Lastly the carbs have to be eaten with as little fat as possible so that your body doesn't absorb a load of fat along with the carbs.

So what does this leave for you to eat for low fat/carb meals? Plenty you just have to get creative, give up the idea of ever having cheese on your pasta, and look really hard for the couple grocery story products that you can eat. Lucky for you I've already done the last step, the intensely annoying and soul draining part for you. Seriously I was torn between breaking into tears or throwing sauces on the floor the first couple times I tried to shop and found how little there was to eat that was sugar free and diet friendly.

The other rule with pasta is that it has to be very thin angel hair pasta made with hard wheat. Montignac claims the pasta dough being forced through the thin metal pasta extruder during production causes a reaction in the wheat that makes it harder to break down into bad carbs while being digested. A lot of his quasi science leaves me scratching my head so I just take his word for it and any of my scientist readers can let me know if this is total crap.

There are three pasta brands I've found in stores in Madison that fit all these quantifiers. Bella Terra Organic Capellini Angel Hair, Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Angel Hair, and Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Grain Angel Hair. In regular grocery stores these brands hide in the organic section rather than in with the regular pasta.

Pasta sauces get a little more complicated depending on how strict you want to take the low fat rule. I've found some good sauces with less than 2 grams of fat per serving from Barilla and Classico. The roasted red pepper and tomato basil in both brands were especially tasty. I was very surprised that the least expensive brands more consistently were sugar free.

In the past I've been posting pasta recipes with penne and lasagna noodles going off the French version of the diet that didn't specify the angel hair only rule. Apparently the American diet needed more rules to keep us fat lazy poor eaters under control. Substituting angel hair in for my earlier recipes will make them perfectly legal for the diet however.

For now I'll post a very tasty and very easy recipe that will work for the weight maintenance stage of the diet when you can add a little more fat into carb meals without any dire consequence. This is when you aren't losing weight but are following most of the same rules to keep your weight steady. It works, I haven't lost or gained a single pound while eating this way. Next week the fella and I are going hard core on the weight loss phase again to see how much more weight we can get rid of, though the vacation from counting GI levels has been nice. I highly recommend taking a month off from the strict eating after a couple months just so the low GI doesn't break your will to live too much.

This recipe just involves tossing some marinated veggies into store bought pasta sauce to make it a little more special and give it a home made feel. It was delicious. We had pan roasted cauliflower with thyme and lemon juice as a side and El Coto Rioja which I believe I may have already raved about once before. It really is a wonderful spicy Spanish wine in the under $10 price range. With wine this good for that price I see no reason to spend more. Plus I'm a sucker for quirky labels.

Antipasto Pasta

1 16-ounce package whole wheat angel hair pasta
1 28-ounce jar sugar free pasta sauce
1 4-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained, halved
1 10 to 12-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, cut into strips
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, sliced or chopped

Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, following package directions, until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, place the marinara sauce, artichokes, peppers, and olives in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Add sauce to pasta. Stir to combine. If desired, add some of the cooking water if too thick. Top with basil. Serve.

Original recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs Enlightened Cooking.


Anonymous said...

That bit about the angel hair pasta undergoing some pseudo-reaction by the act of making it skinny is TOTAL NONSENSE. If angel hair pasta is better for you on this diet (an idea of which I am immensely skeptical), its because it is digested sooner, instead of hanging around in the small intestine to get more absorbed. But I think the real secret to the carbs on this diet is that all of the rules keep you from eating a lot of them.

<3 your scientist-y friend, SAJ

Emily said...

That's pretty much what I figured seeing as we had been eating whatever noodles we wanted and losing weight like crazy. Thanks for confirming it though.

Think the not eating much fat with carbs helps but a lot of the rules are silly and I'm going to keep ignoring them.

Anonymous said...

Hi I just had to comment on this: "give up the idea of ever having cheese on your pasta"

Why, oh why would you say such a thing? Although I'm not eating pasta for my extremely low carb diet, one of the things I eat the most is cheese. Cheese is one of the perfect low carb diet foods; it's high in protein, has no to extremely little amount of carbs, and the fat content is pretty low, specially if you're only using a small amount of shredded parmesan on your pasta!

Emily said...

It's just part of French Diet eating to not combine fat and carbs. So cheese on pasta is a no no. I didn't make the rules I just talk about them. And if people can lose weight while eating cheese on pasta then more power to them. If you're not on this diet then go crazy and put cheese on everything.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, "Antipasto" (antipasti) means "before the meal" and also means no pasta. Try the ingredients on a bed of spinach or romaine lettuce instead. Better carbs and you don't have to worry about the glycemic index with those. I'm diabetic and I know that even whole grain pastas can wreak havoc on one's blood sugar.

Emily said...

If you read the recipe you can see this is something I borrowed from someone else, it's a play on antipasto not claiming to be the real thing. And thanks for your idea about an alternative but a person has to eat some whole grain fiber every once in a while. As I said I'm cooking for the French Diet rules not for diabetics so this is what works for me.

Daniela Hendea {PurpleD} said...

I've been on the Montignac diet for a month and a half and BAM! 15 pounds in the first month!

It's crazy to think that I've been eating about 15 pounds "worth" of sugar, white flour, etc...

The basic idea is that the pancreas is "uncalibrated" after a life of eating foods that spike the sugar in the blood. Instead of releasing insulin to digest only the carbs, the pancreas releases too much insulin, therefore metabolizing the fat and the protein into fat.

Eating carbs separately allows the pancreas to regulate its function.

@Emily: you can eat 0% fat cheese (like 0% cottage cheese) with whole wheat pasta: they're both pure carbs.