Get Your Pasta Fix The Healthy Way

Get Your Pasta Fix The Healthy Way

The Problem

For those who have participated in a moderate level of competition or athletics you’re probably familiar with the term “carbo loading” with pasta. Complex carbs, like pasta, break down slowly in your digestive system and can help you sustain energy through a game, match, or workout. The problem is that 99% of the population doesn’t burn enough calories to require a high intake of complex carbohydrates from pastas and other carbohydrate-dense foods. However, people still love to eat pasta because it tastes great and easy to make.

The Solution

My recipe for a “pasta substitute” not only tastes better, but is lower in carbohydrates and made up of more vitamins and minerals. This pasta recipe can also curb hunger, increase energy levels, and deliver superior vitamins, minerals, and nutrition levels to your body.

The Ingredients (Makes 4 large servings or 6 medium servings)

  • 2 whole spaghetti squashes
  • 1 lb of shrimp
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 4 cups of mushrooms
  • 2 whole tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 ounces of white wine
  • 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. of balsamic
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil

The Nutritional Breakdown (per large serving)

  • Calories-400
  • Saturated Fat-1 gram
  • Protein-47 grams
  • Carbohydrates-27 grams
  • Sodium-800 mg
  • Sugar-11 grams
  • Fiber-10 grams

For those looking to take in more calories, top the pasta with avocado and brussels sprouts.

Nutritional Breakdown (with 1 serving of brussels sprouts and avocado)

  • Calories-520
  • Saturated Fat-1 gram
  • Protein-55 grams
  • Carbohydrates-37 grams
  • Sodium-900 mg
  • Sugar-11 grams
  • Fiber-17 grams

How This Recipe Compares To Competitors 

Olive Garden’s Fettuccine Alfredo

  • Calories-1220
  • Saturated Fat-47
  • Sodium-1350
  • Carbohydrates-99
  • Fiber-5
  • Protein-36
Olive Garden’s Chicken Parmesan
  • Calories-1090
  • Saturated Fat-18
  • Sodium-3380
  • Carbohydrates-79
  • Fiber-27
  • Protein-83
Olive Garden’s Seafood Alfredo
  • Calories-1020
  • Saturated Fat-31
  • Sodium-2430
  • Carbohydrates-88
  • Fiber-9
  • Protein-50
The Comparison 
Honestly, I shouldn’t even need to give a detailed explanation of the difference in nutrition as the results above are pretty staggering.  I will point out that besides having about 1/3 the amount of sodium and significantly lower carbs, calories, and saturated fats, the vitamins and minerals you get from the spaghetti squash itself is far superior to what you will obtain from traditional pasta noodles served at most restaurants. Spaghetti squash is loaded with vitamin C, B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid and vitamin K… to name a few.
Cooking Instructions
Spaghetti Squash
1.Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length wise and clean out seeds and excess leftovers.
2. Lightly drizzle the inside edges of the spaghetti squash in oil to soften the insides. Cook for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
3. Place the sliced mushrooms in the oven half way through squash cook time and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and fork the squash into spaghetti strands until the squash shell is bare.
Shrimp and Toppings (while squash cooks)
1.  Remove tails from shrimp.
2. Lightly coat a pan with canola oil and turn on a high temperature. Add the chopped garlic clove.
3. Add shrimp and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.
4. Add white wine to the edges of the pan.
5. Cook shrimp for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is disolved.
6. Add spinach and tomatoes.Cover and simmer on low.
7. Add cooked mushrooms, spaghetti squash, and seared shrimp, spinach, and tomato to a large bowl.
8. Top with avocado and add brussel sprouts. (optional)
This is a great alternative to generic pasta with meat. Also, this is just a foundation. If you are looking to add more protein or calories, mixing in other great stuff like chicken and black beans is highly encouraged. I hope you enjoy this recipe and I appreciate all the great feedback and questions I have been receiving. Thanks.
From Naples,
Kevin


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Is It Time To Go Gluten-Free?

Is It Time To Go Gluten-Free?

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple years then you have probably heard about the “gluten-free” diet. Here is a quick synopsis to get you up to speed.

  • Gluten is a protein found in most grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats, that is consumed all over the world.
  • Gluten-free diets were originally formulated to treat celiac’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects 1% of the US population who are allergic to gluten and gluten products. In recent years, upwards of 6-10%  have been treated with mild cases of a “gluten sensitivity”.
  •  Some evidence attributes gluten to numerous diseases ranging  from obesity to autism and everything in between. There is also some evidence that shows gluten possibly contributing to overall inflammation in the body which is a major cause of more serious illnesses such as heart disease and joint pain.
  • A gluten-free diet allows for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, many dairy products, rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, nut flours and many specific gluten-free products while excluding all ordinary breads, pastas, and many convenience (processed) foods.
The Science In Support Of A Gluten Free Diet
  • When the human body senses the gluten, it needs to break it down, and it takes fairly strong enzymes to do that. The small intestine is not necessarily designed to digest large amounts of processed carbohydrates and gluten dense foods present in the evolving “Western Diet”. Therefore, the 99% of Americans who don’t have celiac’s disease also tend to respond favorably to a gluten-free diet.

The Benefits And Hype

  • While people with celiac disease have little choice but to avoid gluten, others may be avoiding gluten in an effort to;
  1. Trim pounds
  2. Benefit cholesterol levels
  3. Aid in digestion
  4. Increase energy levels
  • Wheat and other grains associated with the gluten-free diet are considered moderate to high on the Glycemic Index. ( A measurement of the type or quality of carbohydrates in a particular food and how fast they raise blood glucose levels. AKA the lower the better) Anything with a Glycemic Index rating over 50 is considered counterproductive for fat loss in high quantities. Many foods considered “healthy” like some breakfast cereals often contain a GI of 70+. More on the Glycemic Index to come later this month.
  • Marketers estimated in a 2008 study that 15% to 25% of consumers desired or wanted gluten-free foods, even though doctors estimate just 1% of actually having an allergy to gluten itself.
  • Gluten-free diets have gone mainstream getting endorsements from people like Oprah to Chelsea Clinton. In the most recent endorsement, Madonna was publicized as serving gluten-free brownies at her 52 birthday,
  • Many mainstream companies have created gluten-free products as well.

The Reality 

  • I believe the increased energy levels and documented weight loss isn’t from substituting generic whole grain bread for gluten-free bread or gluten-free products in general. Instead, people (excluding those with celiacs) “feel better” because they consume fewer fast and processed foods, which tend to contain gluten. They are substituting starchy carbs, breads, and convenience foods for more fruits, vegetables, and other natural carbohydrates.
  • In fact, many processed gluten-free foods and gluten-free junk foods contain almost twice the calories as their traditional counterparts, not to mention they are usually much more expensive. Processed gluten-free foods are generally lower in fiber, so you won’t stay full as long, creating an increase on overall caloric intake in the long term.
  • It’s a surprising statistic, but one study found that 81% of people suffering from celiacs disease (gluten intolerance) who followed a gluten-free diet actually gained weight. That’s because there is a common misconception that anything labeled “gluten-free” must be good for you.

  • Many gluten-free products are not fortified or enriched and contain lower amounts of nutrients such as folate, iron, and fiber than other foods
  • Some other drawbacks of specific gluten-free cultivated products;
  1. Less fiber than whole grain products
  2. Lower levels of certain essential vitamins and nutrients
  3. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products
  4. Manufacturers replacing gluten with more calorie dense substances causing an increase in overall caloric intake.
  5. THE COST FACTOR
The Cost Factor For Specific Gluten Free Products (not substituting products containing gluten for fruits and veggies)
The following data is from a 2007 US Government study. It shows that the cost of gluten-free products are considerably higher than their equivalent wheat filled products. Here are some extreme cases;
  1. Wheat flour $0.34/lb TO Brown rice flour $1.89/lb
  2. Wheat bread $1.09/loaf TO Gluten-free bread $6.00/loaf
  3. Wheat pasta $0.87/lb TO Gluten free pasta $3.69/lb
  4. Chocolate chip cookies $2.69/lb TO Gluten free chocolate chip cookies $12.83/lb
  5. Wheat crackers $1.63/lb TO Rice crackers $9.12/lb
  • The average unit price for gluten-free products was $1.71
  • The average unit price of regular products was $0.61
Conclusion
So, the answer to the article is yes and no. If you are substituting regular wheat products like breads, pastas, and processed foods, for more natural foods like fruits and vegetables than, YES, a “gluten-free diet” is great. Should you start buying gluten-free pastas, breads, and mixes? NO. The benefits of gluten-free products don’t seem to outweigh the negatives of the cost and convenience factor. However, anytime you can substitute gluten dense products like a high carb tortilla or wheat wrap for a more natural lettuce wrap is highly encouraged and very beneficial. The benefits and weight loss people experience from a gluten-free diet is not buy substituting breads, pastas, and processed foods, for their more expensive gluten-free counterparts. It is by eliminating these foods completely or opting for a more natural version where people see benefits. (For example, using spaghetti squash noodles instead of starchy, high-carb pasta noodles.)
Saving your money on what you would have paid for a gluten-free product and spending it on something like organic produce, dairy, or grass-fed meats, is going to be much more beneficial to your overall diet and wallet. The last and most important fact of gluten-free diets is; Do people know one of the ingredients in some of the most popular beers around? Gluten! Have fun drinking this on Friday night if you are giving the gluten-free diet a shot.