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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spinach Rice Vermecilli

Pasta dishes have long been family favourites, anything from cold pasta salads to pasta casseroles to pasta in soups to simply pasta topped with a sauce or sometimes just a bit of butter and garlic or salt.  Pasta dishes tend to be inexpensive, easy and quick to make, and they are kid friendly making them the perfect frugal meal choice.  Pastas certainly aren't boring either as you can find them in a wide range of shapes, different colours (red, orange, purple, green), and even whole grain.  For those needing to avoid gluten, rice based pastas are available and just as inexpensive as wheat based pastas.  However, pasta has a bad reputation for those trying to lose weight, lower their sodium intake or following a low carb diet.  The problem is not just the pasta itself, it's the sauces some which can be high in both calories and sodium combined with portion size. 

We eat a fairly low sodium diet already and we avoid commercially canned foods by home canning which eliminates preservatives and other food additives (MSG, HFCS) that can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, ADD/ADHD, headaches, asthma and allergies. My husband was thought to be pre-diabetic had a gastrointestinal infection that hospitalized him for five days last fall.  His new doctor ruled out diabetes but recently him with high blood pressure to be controlled by medication and weight loss that will hopefully eliminate the medication.  My blood pressure has been high the last couple of doctor visits and regular testing at home still in the high range so I'm following a few tips to lower my blood pressure without having to take medication. 

In light of these problems, I decided to take a closer look at our diet.  I had already been modifying our favourite pasta dishes to make them healthier as well as getting ideas from healthy pasta recipes from various sources.  Many of the celebrity chefs have great ideas for reducing the calories and sodium in their pasta dishes.

Green pasta gets it's colour from spinach.  Up until now I had only seen wheat based pastas with spinach added.  I also have a recipe for spinach pasta for my pasta attachments.  The other day I saw spinach rice vermecilli in the grocery store so just had to buy it.  This vermecilli was such a pretty pale green that I knew would look lovely cooked. One of our friends eats gluten free so I'm trying find a few good dishes he can eat.  The neat thing about rice vermecilli is to just bring the water to a boil, turn it off and soak the vermecilli in it for 2 minutes then drain. 

I made an alfredo sauce topped with lobster pieces, shredded garlic and dill cheese, and garnished with parsley from my indoor garden.  Alfredo sauce is easy to make but if using a standard recipe thickened with flour contains gluten, and has 996 calories and 1264 mg sodium (53% of recommended daily intake).  I use grated Parmesan cheese melted in a little butter then stir in 2% milk instead of half and half or heavy cream.  I don't add any salt as the cheese has enough salt in it.  Four ounces of steamed lobster has 111 calories, 431 mg of sodium any only 1.5 g of carbs.  I love lobster!  I buy a case of 8 - 7 oz Cuban rock lobster tails along with cod filets and King Crab legs from Elite Gourmet Food Service who delivers right to you door anywhere is southern Ontario.  The problem is, I can easily eat a 7 oz lobster tail (754 mg sodium) or even a whole lobster especially with drawn butter!  I wanted the taste of lobster that night without the calories and sodium so I steamed a lobster tail, cut it into pieces and divided it into 4 portions (189 mg sodium each).  I topped the pasta with a half cup of sauce, added one portion of lobster tail then 1 tsp of shredded garlic and dill cheese for extra flavour.  The end result was a gluten free pasta dish lower in calories, sodium and carbs but still flavourful.  I'm sure our friend will enjoy it the next time he visits!

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