Healthy Pasta TASTE TEST + 4 Reasons Why I STILL Avoid Gluten

 

Pasta. What a delectable vehicle for vegetables!  Add your favorite beans, steamed veggies, and tomato sauce and BOOM! An impressive gourmet dinner.  While intact grains are the gold standard (grains in their whole form), whole grains, yes including their bran, germ, and endosperm, are milled into a fine flour to make whole grain pastas, breakfast cereals, and other “whole grain” products.  A few examples of legit whole intact grains would be steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, and millet.

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How to tell if the product is WHOLE GRAIN?

  1. Whole grain stamp is on the package
  2. “100%” or “Whole” are used to describe it
  3. The first ingredient listed is a whole grain

refinedgrains

Refined grains are not only grains milled into a flour, but their grain was stripped of the nutrient and fiber containing bran and germ! Murder! Refined grains are white / light in color and examples include white bread, cookies, cakes, pretzels, white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white flour. Darn!

Don’t fret too much! The recommendation is:

Make at least 1/2 of your grains whole grains.

Grains are an important part of a healthy balanced diet for fiber, iron,powerplategraphichirez magnesium, selenium, b vitamins, and lasting energy! Be sure to include them on your plate.

The Taste Test

Well before #1, my personal favorite is ZUCCHINILINI OF COURSE! Which is simply zucchini or summer squash, spirilized to look and feel like spaghetti. I like to mix it with pasta dishes to add bulk, flavor, color, and more veg of course!

#1 Nature’s Promise Whole Wheat Spaghetti: #1 in taste, texture, and nutritional profile. Contains gluten.

#2. Bionaturae Gluten Free Corn and Soy Spaghetti: Fabulous texture and taste and with 5g protein and 6% iron, this product is ok. Low in fiber :-/

#3. Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti: Quite sticky texture, but great flavor and elasticity.  Would go great with a sauce. However, low in fiber although whole grain. Brown rice is naturally low in fiber.

 

#4. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Corn and Quinoa Spaghetti: Texture dry and kinda crunchy, but a good source of fiber at 16% daily value and 10% iron!

#5. Andean Dream Quinoa Gluten Free Spaghetti: Texture was definitely a little sandy.  But I must say with 6% calcium, 12% iron, and just barely a good source of fiber at 10% daily value, not bad.

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The Consensus:

The quinoa based gluten free products have a better nutritional profile, but are not as delicious as the lower fiber rice based ones.

Why I personally still avoid Gluten?

Do I go out of my way to avoid gluten?

No.  I still enjoy it in moderation. My mom makes homemade bread and pizza with gluten which I eat occasionally.  My diet is whole foods based, so I rarely purchase packaged products that might contain gluten.

Do I eat gluten every day?

No.  Maybe I eat a gluten containing meal or snack 3-4 times a week.  I am generally healthy and do not currently feel any reason to put more effort into seriously avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and foods containing gluten 100% of the time.

Why I make this personal choice:

  1. My sister has ulcerative colitis, which is similar to celiacs in that they are both autoimmune inflammatory intestinal disorders. With a genetic risk factor in my family, I try to not over load the gluten as a personal preventative measure.
  2. Studies linking gluten and autism spectrum disorders autism-and-nutrition-1. The GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet has been shown to help people with ADHD and autism, what else could it be linked to? I am ever curious and after reading such articles have trouble stomaching gluten (and of course would never recommend drinking milk).
  3. Naturopaths recommend avoiding gluten initially when trying to avoid inflammation with an “elimination diet,” along with dairy and other common inflammatory trigger foods. With this in mind, many people have success reversing adverse symptoms like rashes, IBS, fatigue, etc (SO MANY), once they remove gluten from their diet.  I grew up with canker sores, weird rashes, and eczema so, avoiding inflammation (and gluten) is in my best interest.
  4. Close friends with celiac disease so it is easier for everybody to find a gluten free delicious option!

While as you could see from the video, a gluten free diet is not recommended for the general public because it tends to have less nutrients. Be a savvy shopper and let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy those intact whole grains and plant yums! xx

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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Shake My Head (SMH).

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The controversial pro-GMO vs. no-GMO hysteria has a lot of people talking.  Especially for us here in CornVille (aka Indiana).  Let’s talk food.  Of course it is better to increase fruit and vegetable consumption whether or not it is organic- but think you know what’s on your plate?  Inspired by my Public Health Nutrition Text, pg. 58: “Food is not a constant thing.  Vitamin content can vary… Farming techniques also change our food supply on the most basic level.  A cow fed a corn-based diet is not nutritionally the same as a cow that grazes on grass.  We may think we are comparing the proverbial apples to apples, but in reality often those apples have very different nutrient contents.”  Maybe that’s not the nourishment you think it is… let’s find out!

Apple-GMO

What are GMOs? GMO=Genetically Modified Organism.  According to Monsanto’s website, GMOs are plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism.

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Hold up- what is Monsanto? According to the Huffington Post, Monsanto is one of “The Big 6” chemical companies including Dow, Dupoint, Syngenta, BASF, and Bayer.  It was founded as a drug company, and its first product was saccharin for Coca-Cola – a derivative of coal tar that was later linked to bladder cancer.  The Huffington Post describes Monsanto as a company who manufactures the world’s most destructive chemicals, and is a pioneer of biotechnology; their first product being artificial recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and they have sued companies for labeling their products as “rBGH-free”.

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Why care?  A lot of our food is genetically modified to resist bugs and grow bigger, brighter, and sweeter in all kinds of weather.  In Indiana, most farmland is GMO corn and soy.  The “big 6” companies have a lot of power here.  Our Indiana farmers need to do everything they can to maximize their profits- that means with every new chemically altered seed that comes out- they better invest if they want success.  It is brilliant what these companies have come up with, but there are some adverse outcomes worth discussing.

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Disease and allergies- Fact is- researching health outcomes based on food consumption is difficult.  There are so many barriers and variables.  Studies have been done by the FDA and the CDC that did show allergy and inflammatory responses from people who consumed genetically modified corn products, but they concluded, “These findings do not provide any evidence that the reactions that the affected people experienced were associated with hypersensitivity to the Cry9c protein (a protein genetically modified into the corn). The difficulties of this investigation highlight the importance of evaluating the allergic potential of genetically modified foods before they become available for human consumption.”  Funny thing is about this conclusion, we eat GMOs all the time, and nobody evaluates their allergic potential.  All the evaluations I could find end in questionable conclusions like this.  Nobody even lets you know your food was messed with.  And I won’t go into the science- but you are what you eat, and if you mess with the genes of your food, the potential for mutated genes certainly increases.  #cancer.

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Other Countries, Education, and The Environment:  GMOs are required by law to be labeled in lots of countries including Europe, Australia, and Japan.  Why not America?  Is there something they’re not telling us? Why would they not want something labeled GMO if they are so safe?  GMOs are in almost every packaged food- it’s about time us ignorant Americans actually knew what we were eating.  Might I add the disruption to the soil, and the superbug insects that these technologies could be creating?

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How to avoid GMOs?

  1. Buy USDA Organic certified food and food products
  2. Look for Non-GMO seals.
  3. Grow your own food
  4. Avoid risk ingredients that are commonly genetically modified:
  • corn (as in corn oil, cornmeal, cornstarch, and other corn based ingredients
  • soybeans (as in soybean oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based ingredients)
  • canola (canola oil), cottonseed (cottonseed oil), sugar beets (the “sugar” listed on food labels is almost always derived from sugar cane and genetically modified sugar beets)
  • most Hawaiian papaya
  • some zucchini and yellow squash
  • and beware of dairy products, which may come from cows injected with genetically modified bovine growth hormone, and meats from animals (including farmed fish) that have been fed genetically modified foods.  Look for dairy products labeled No rBGH or rBST, artificial hormone-free, or organic; wild-caught fish; and meat labeled organic or 100% grass-fed.

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This was a hard article for me to write, because I know and love a lot of people in the ag business.  They are kind, whole hearted people, and truly do want the best for the world.  I came to Indiana to see their side of the story.  However, as a dietetics student, it is up to me to educate about exposures to various foods, and the possible outcomes.  There is a difference between a farmer, and a global chemical corporation.  Let’s do what we can.  We can talk to our food providers and parents about starting to grow our own food and consume more local, organic food.  We are the promising future.  Not a science experiment.