Change in Blog Routine, Pasta Discussion and Maria Emmerich is wonderful! 01/14/2013

Be Warned! Running some experiments ...

The short version:

I'm going to email a recipe a day, rather than a weekly "summary". Expect 7 shorter emails per week, rather than 1 long one, starting next Tuesday. This is an experiment. I may stop it after a week or two, or it may become my new way, for a while. Fair warning!

The long version:

I'm always trying to figure out the best way to do this thing and bring all y'all the information and recipes you seek. I'm personally not a fan of "spam" (emailing people over and over again with useless unwanted information). This is why I chose to limit my emails to once a week.

Historically, I've put a recipe every day onto my Facebook page. I also occasionally post recipes from other sites that I like or feel fit within my own guidelines. Last week, I ran an experiment to put TWO recipes a day, thinking I run the risk of irritating people with too many recipes. WRONG! People seemed to really enjoy it and more chatter has occurred, than ever! I think it helps people feel more involved, through the day or week.

All this combined with the general belief that people on the internet don't read ... leads me to believe I'll leave a greater overall impression by sending less ... more often!

At least ... I'm going to try and experiment with this and ... see what happens! As this blog evolves, I'm sure I'll take it into all sorts of different directions ... always with the core of 7 recipes per week and bringing the best possible blog I know how to give. That should never change.

I'd love your feedback! If you love a daily recipe in your inbox, let me know! If I start coming off as too spammy ... let me know! The last thing I want to do is offend.


Socially Challenged

Finally, I do want to point out that I've really been putting some time into Facebook. I'm secretly starting to like it! If you have a Facebook account, I suggest going to my Facebook page and liking it. This will sign you up for more recipes than I send through my daily email and give a richer "DJ Foodie" experience. (that was just a strange sentence to type!) I also throw occasional articles, videos and other interesting odds and ends into the news feed. I'm also almost always there ... just ready for a chat! If you're interested in this ... head over to my page and like it! You should start seeing more low-carb goodness right away!


Coming Attractions

ChupaChorueso (cheese and chorizo stuffed cheese!)

Crab Salad with Tangerines and Avocado

Flank Steak Roll with Mushrooms and Beef-Tomato Gravy



Everything I know About Pasta within a Low-Carb Way of Life

Pasta, much like bread, potatoes and rice, is gone. There are a million wonderful foodstuffs in the world, but my 4 favorite are very possibly in the preceding sentence. In the time before I regained my health, pasta or sauce and cheese covered flatbreads were consumed near 7 times a week. Giving up pizza and pasta was monstrously intimidating, but ... it needed done. So, I did it. Near 150 lbs. of weight loss later, I'm glad I did it, too!

Since that time, I've managed to find ways to fill the voids that were created by this change (except for the elusive pizza, which I've yet to fully nail). For me, I felt that I'd discovered something called "Dreamfields" Pasta. This looks and tastes just like regular pasta, but claims to be only 5 grams of net carbs, per serving. I have a few recipes on my website that use this product. You can find them, here.

(Disclaimer: I don't make a penny from anyone ... so these thoughts are purely my opinions without any financial gain from anyone ... at any time)

(In other news, that needs to change at some point!)

*wink*

In the past, I was able to eat whatever I wanted behind closed doors and not really pay any mind to the trends or the newest "hot-off-the-presses" information. I could quietly indulge in my occasional dips in the noodle-y side. However, now that people seem to actually be paying attention to me, I'm feeling the need to be a bit more serious and a bit more focused on the right things for "everyone", not just what I like to eat in the dark.

Pasta, being made of wheat, and a major trigger food for a lot of people, is starting to feel like something that maybe I shouldn't showcase on my website. It's a bit like going to an Alcohol Anonymous meeting, with a case of near beer. Maybe on some level it's acceptable, but ... it also probably isn't. So, I asked the question on Facebook. What do people think? I was expecting a bit of a backlash, but ... was pleased to report that most seem to see these in about the same way I do. Alas, it seems reasonable to share my thoughts and then leave it at that (until I change my mind ... which is possible).

This is what I've found: the concept of pasta does need to be lost within a low-carb way of eating. "Pasta" is really little more than a vehicle for sauce, anyway. If you're eating pasta, for the most part, you just taste sauce, with the pasta feeding the sugar frenzy your body is fidgeting for. "Sauce" can go on lots of things and it doesn't necessarily need to be true pasta!

Zoodles and Friends

It seems that the number 1 pasta replacement is "Zoodles". I very rarely eat Zoodles plain. What's a Zoodle, you ,may ask? Zoodles are made of pure zucchini and are made in a variety of ways.

A common tool is one of these things:

Those are fun and I understand why people like them. I had one and never used it, though. I brought it into a restaurant where I worked and it was eventually thrown away.

I personally use one of these:

This is just personal preference, but I like a little more control than the Spiralizer gives. You can adjust the thickness with this thing, plus slice fat wide strips, too. I use my Japanese Mandoline for all KINDS of things (just watch your fingers, though ... this tool bites!)

With these tools you can get something that approximates a noodle concept. Noodle shaped ingredients without a lot of flavor ... which do a great job of carrying the flavor of the sauce! You can quickly, with high heat in a little bit of olive oil, butter and/or salt, sauté the Zoodles, put them on a plate, top them with sauce and you have ... Zoodles with Sauce!

If you're not into kitchen gadgetry, you can also use a peeler to make wider Zoodles, by peeling a zucchini, until the zucchini is nothing but a zucchini core of seeds and pile of fat little Zoodles!

Let's not ignore the simple fact that ... the word alone is fun to say. Ok, everyone say it with me: Zoodles.

ZOOOOOOOODLES!!!!

WHEE!!!

Zoodles are a great induction friendly way to have your pasta, and eat it, too.

Finally, Zoodles are also a great way to add bulk to a pasta. This is what I do almost all the time. A Noodle-Zoodle combo, if you will. Znoodles, anyone?

Speaking of Znoodles ... another induction friendly tactic would be to take my super versatile ricotta crepes (omitting the sugar equivalent), roll them up and cut them into ribbons. Toss these into a hot sauté pan with your Zoodles and you'll have a great big bowl of Crêpey Zoodles! (note to self: add this to your website!)

Another very common trick I read about all the time is "Spaghetti Squash". It's named after a pasta shape, even! Must be good with the sauce! I'll add this to my site, eventually (I couldn't get them in Mexico). Until I do, here's a great article that goes into detail on cooking methods.

These are the kinds of things you can make at home, right now, with fairly standard ingredients and equipment, with minimal effort.

Shirataki Noodles

Then, we start getting into some of the weirder stuff, such as: Shirataki Noodles!

Shirataki Noodles are a very low carbohydrate Japanese noodle made from the Devil's Tongue Yam (also known as the Elephant Yam or Konjac Yam). Shirataki means "White Waterfall", presumably because the noodles are white, when they cascade.

Shirataki Noodles aren't controversial that I'm aware of. I assume you could even eat them while even in the earliest phases of a low-carb diet. True shirataki noodles have almost no calories. They're almost pure fiber, so they're completely acceptable and can even be eaten in abundance!

Ah, but ... alas ... things are not all prim and perfect in noodle-land. Shirataki noodles are ... in a word ... bizarre. Some people love them and swear by them. Some people write them off as a bowl of lengthy rubber worms. They are definitely a divisive little critter.

Firstly, they come in little refrigerated bag of liquid. They're like square limp water balloons with a surprise inside. The contents are fishy smelling "water" and some smoked glass looking strands of weirdness.

Here's where the fun begins! First, pour the contents into a strainer and get rid of the funky liquid. You might want to plug your nose, or you run the risk of being biased when the neutral noodles actually hit your mouth (they have no flavor of their own). Once the noodles are in a strainer, run them under cold water for a good minute or two and wash that fishy odor off of them. Then, let them drip dry for a bit.

Next, pre-heat a non-stick pan. Add your noodles to the pan and stir fry them, to dry them off and tighten them up, a bit. I've read that you do not need to oil these; there are no carbs to stick to the pan. However, I always add a little sesame or coconut oil to them, just to be on the safe side. I cook them over very high heat for about 2 or 3 minutes, tossing them around, until they're dry. Evidently, if you do not coat them with oil, when they are sufficiently dry, they will "squeek", like a basketball player stopping abruptly.

At this point, you can consider them edible and are ready for any flavor you may choose to throw at them. This is when some may top them with Alfredo Sauce, or Marinara and Meatballs. I personally can't really imagine that. These noodles are just too darn strange to go with an Italian preparation, but there are MANY who swear by this approach. If you like this, more power to you! I wish I were one of them!

I DO, however, love them in a good stir-fry. They are wonderful in soy-ginger based soups. They are good chilled and tossed with some soy, lettuce and cold chicken for a bit of an Asian Chicken Salad effect. They definitely have their place and are a wonderful tool and I do like them, but definitely not with parmesan cheese. *shudder*

It would be incomplete of me to omit that there are many brand names and varieties out there, in many shapes and colors. More often than not, I see people reach for the Tofu Shirataki noodles. Because of the tofu, these have a slightly higher carb content, but also have a slightly better texture and are white, rather than opaque. They are a little closer to an Italian pasta experience (not enough for me, though).

You can also find them under the brand names of Miracle Noodle and NoOodles.

A woman named Michelle Stott suggested that she eats Sea Kelp noodles. I've heard of these, but have never tried them. They seem as if they'd be a completely different, but similarly odd taste and texture as a Shirataki.

Low-Carb Pastas

Then we have the wide assortment of low-carb pastas, whole wheat pastas, quinoa pastas, etc. I have no opinion on them, as I haven't tried them. Everything I've read about these products is that they taste like cardboard, and cardboard is much cheaper!

However, there is one product that seems to stand apart from the crowd. It's called "Dreamfields" pasta. I'm able to find it in some grocery stores and it can also be bought online. It's on the expensive side, but I've seen deals on it. It can be found at a reasonable price.

This is probably the most controversial product. It's wheat based (wheat is taking a lot of heat, these days) and looks and tastes and cooks precisely, exactly like any other high end dried pasta. It is delicious!

HOWEVER, if you read the label, it's got 41 grams of carbs, per 2 oz. serving. It also has 5 grams of fiber, which allows you to conclude a net carb total of 36 grams. One tiny 2 oz. portion of pasta at 36 net carbs is near twice my daily allotment. Yikes!

Here's where things get weird. Dreamfields claims their product is wrapped in a protective matrix, which slows the digestive process and drops this product much lower on the glycemic index. The box states that we should count a further 31 carbs as "protected". This means, we can take the total of 41 grams, subtract the 5 grams of fiber, PLUS the 31 "protected" carbs ... yielding only 5 digestible carbs. It sounds like pretty murky math to me. If I were to read this, I'd probably wonder if it were true, how they did it, etc. I was skeptical.

You can read more of the fuzzy math, here.

Somewhere I listened to an interview with the head of the company and he won me over. At the very least, the company stands behind their word and puts out a good product. Netrition.com also sells their product and I trust them to do a good job at vetting a product. I've also tried it many times and I generally have no poor reaction to it, and it is DEFINITELY delicious. It is pasta in every way a pasta can be a pasta. In all honesty, whether you are on a low-carb diet or not, this pasta is probably just "better for you".

Again, all is not as well as it may seem in paradise. Unfortunately, there are many reports around the internet of people whose blood sugars spiked after eating this product. (Diabetics, be warned!) This shouldn't be the case with a product reacting like near pure fiber within the body. Many say that the spike occurs at all times, but only several hours after eating the pasta. The effect is delayed, rather than when a normal spike might occur. As a result, many may not be aware what it's doing to their blood sugars, but it probably DID rise ... later that evening, long after they'd tested their blood.

This is generally countered with the advice of not overcooking it. Dreamfields states that the protective matrix breaks down if the pasta is overcooked (except in the case of the magical lasagna noodles ... somehow). The belief here is that people experiencing high blood sugar surges, didn't read the box. This is one pasta you do not want to overcook!

My personal stance is that the product has integrity and tries to be everything it claims to be, but that different people have different systems with different sensitivities to the product. How you react to it might be different than how another may react to it. I can only suggest you try it and see!

This is how it reacts with me: If I eat it too often, I find myself craving it, pizza, donuts and other sweet carby things. If I eat Zoodles too often, then does not happen. It is my belief that this product DOES have a higher than 5 net carb reaction within my own system. For me, it's a trigger food and it makes me crave. Something within me gets that little extra jolt of glucose and my body begins longing for more.

HOWEVER, this never happens if I eat it sparingly. Limited to once or twice a month, I never crave it and it never seems to stall me. I'm able to eat it on a Friday night (I usually have about 1 1/2 servings, bulked out with Zoodles and sauce), and then not eat it for 3 more weeks. Interestingly, I often lose weight the day after eating it.

If I were to make a recommendation, it would be to start at the top of this list and eat Zoodles, Crepes and Spaghetti Squash as often as you want. If you're into the texture of the Shirataki, eat those as well! Reserve Dreamfields for a treat, a splurge, the first Friday of the month, or when company is coming over. Otherwise, I don't suggest it on a regular basis ... but ... that's just me!

Your mileage may vary.


Share the LCve

I'll keep it short, because this blog is WAY too long! The passionate Maria Emmerich is awesome, though! I really wonder where she gets all the energy! (Good diet and exercise, probably!) She's got several books to her name, she's always on Facebook, she does calls, video chats and all sorts of nutritional consultations, has a family, stays fit, shares wonderful information on a continual basis and puts out a wonderful product! Her recipes look delicious, her baking ideas are revolutionary and her photographs are tantalizing!

I recently purchased her book "The Art of Healty Eating - Sweets" to learn a bit more about baking without grains or sugar. A fantastic read filled with wonderful imagery and recipes. I trust Maria to only continue bringing inspiring, thoughtful and educational information to the world! Check her, her books and services out!


My Recipes

There's no way you're reading this, right now. Scroll down. Check them out! Those ribs were highly requested when I mentioned them a few months ago. I also highly suggest checking out the vinaigrette recipe, as it goes deeper in the concept of a salad dressing ... than meets the eye!

Ok, that's it. Next week will be a barrage of daily emails. Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks!

DJ

ALL NEW Weekly Recipes!
Fennel-Horseradish Pork Spare Ribs
These pork spare ribs were FANTASTIC! They were different than your standard dry rubbed, smoked and either sweet or vinegar soaked ribs. These had more character to them, and the horseradish in the end just give it an earthy heat, pulling together the aroma from the orange and the sweet little pop from the fennel seeds.
White BBQ Sauce
I experimented with a zero carb diet for 30 days (interesting experience, with overall great success!). During that period of time, I wanted to ensure that I had a wide variety of options. If I constantly felt that my choices were limited ... I couldn't believe that a zero carb way of eating would work for me. So ... I worked to create a menu of interesting options! One of them ... was this Northern Alabama favorite ... right here!
Panzanella
Panzanella is basically an Italian summer salad made out of old bread and fresh tomatoes. Bread being looked at as pure evil within a low-carb way of eating, is tough to imagine being the primary focus of a whole salad! Read on ...

There are many low-carb bread products on the market. You can find them in the store, online, or you can even make them yourself! Some use wheat, some pass on all grains, many are gluten free. This would really work with any of them. Picture a normal salad, but with LOTS of croutons. Stale bread or croutons are little more than bread that's been dried out. Toss this into some lettuce and tomatoes and ... that's Panzanella!
Balsamic Vinaigrette: More than just a vinaigrette
At its core vinaigrette is a ratio of an acidic liquid, blended with fat. I believe it's supposed to additionally be emulsified, but I've worked in countless restaurants with non-emulsified vinaigrettes. ("Emulsified" means that the oil and fat were blended into a single slightly thicker, creamier liquid) No one ever complained that their vinaigrette wasn't emulsified.

The standard ratio is 3 parts oil to one part vinegar. A very standard red wine vinaigrette, for example, one would whisk together 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a touch of salt and pepper. This would yield 1/4 cup of "red wine vinaigrette".
Whole Roasted Pesto Rubbed Chicken
This roasted chicken is a twist on a standard roasted chicken, or a chicken rubbed simply with herbs and oil. This chicken is rubbed with PESTO!

Not only is it rubbed with pesto, but the pesto is also rubbed UNDERNEATH the skin, so that some of the pesto is directly in contact with the meat. Roasting causes the pesto and oils to melt, mixing the fats from the pesto with the fat rendering out of the skin. This all bakes deeper into the flesh, yielding a plump and juicy bird.
Tomato Water
I'm a big part of one of the biggest farmer's markets in all of Mexico. When I lived there, I helped organize and run it. Now that I'm in Seattle, my role is limited to website updates and spamming customers. Whee! Spam is fun!

... Ahem ... A year or so ago, the market had a sprawling organic festival and we wanted to come up with some interesting drinks. I suggested some tantalizing beverages made with tomato water, from locally grown tomatoes. I got a lot of strange looks. "Que es esto?" I explained a method by which they could puree the tomatoes with some salt, hang the puree in sacks of cloth and get a very pale yellow, very clear liquid ... containing the pure heart and soul of the tomato.
Pan Seared Salmon with Veggies and Tomato Water
I don't know what I was thinking when I made this dish. It was the middle of summer, tomatoes and other summer produce was in abundance at the local Farmers' Market and I had just made tomato water with a friend.

This dish is almost like a soup. Once you cut into the salmon, it begins to break apart and settle into the seared veggies, swimming around the pool of transparent tomato juice. It's so pretty and so simple and so light and clean, that it's clear it's an impossibly summer dish.
I now feel like a noodle expert thanks to you! :) And I agree those Shiratake noodles are best served stir fried with asian preparations....just thinking about and Italian shiratake makes me want to scratch my head....Too bad you're not into spiralizers though, but hey to each his own. :)

http://bestspiralizer.com/
by Robert on Oct 05, 2014, 11:26 AM EST