Once upon a time I ate a lot of pasta. I like it. A lot.
The second meal my husband made for me while we were dating was tuna noodle casserole. (The first meal was a horrible, huge plate of white rice and frozen veggies doused in soy sauce. Sorry, hubby.) My mom never made tuna casserole and it seems to get a bad rap, but my husband’s version was a very pleasant surprise. And the recipe became a favorite of ours. Until we had kids. And I inadvertently trained them to be picky eaters. (Eat a casserole with the food all mixed together? Never!)
Given my druthers, I could eat pasta every day of the week. Any kind. I love mac and cheese from the box. Lasagna with meat or spinach. Ravioli, tortellini. Macaroni with cottage cheese, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Wide egg noodles with margarine and parmesan cheese. Spaghetti with just about any sauce on top. The list is endless. As was the bottomless pit of my stomach. Pasta, more often than not, lead to overeating for me. And, despite my struggles with over-snacking, I don’t usually overeat at meals.
But the end of pasta came less from my overeating and more from an evolution as I tried to please my finicky boys. The oldest loves pasta too. When he comes home from college we always have a supply of mac and cheese boxes waiting for him to microwave his own lunch. Spirals. He doesn’t want the elbow shape. But my younger son turned his nose (which looks like mine but smaller) up at any kind of pasta and insisted he didn’t like it. So pasta left the repertoire of potential family meals. Until he was subjected to eating it while overnighting at a friend’s house. And later was inspired to eat more to carb-load during his track and cross-country running seasons. And, after 18 years, he finally conceded that he likes it, but only with meat sauce.
So that brings us to me, cutting white carbs. Which means pasta. Or not? As whole wheat versions gradually made their way to the grocery shelves. But since my finicky little eaters refused to even try brown rice, I suspected they would have the same reaction to brown pasta and didn’t want to deal with the drama. Typically pasta dinner here recently looked like this: my teen had (“white”) spaghetti with meat sauce while my husband, trying to cut back on meat, had his spaghetti with plain sauce, and I had meat sauce with spaghetti squash. It was sort of working for us.
Then my husband, who is a bit of a Costco addict, came home with whole grain pasta. Not one box. This is Costco after all. So one night not too long ago, when I was making healthy chicken cacciatore for dinner, I suggested hubby boil up a pot of rotini and see what happens. Lo and behold, will miracles never cease, the teen not only didn’t notice a difference, but he went back for seconds! Wowza! One hurdle passed. The next test would be when the true pasta connoisseur (if you can call a Kraft lover a connoisseur) came home from college and we tried dishing up the brown stuff to him.
I am calling our little pasta experiment a resounding success. And I am giving hubby a virtual pat on the back. Left up to me, trying whole grain pasta would have waited until our nest empties in the fall. Along with a very long list of recipes to try when there are no more picky eaters to please.
Are you a pasta lover too? Have you tried the whole grain version? Ever tried to pull one over on the people you feed?
Postscript: Turns out our little experiment was not as successful as I thought. Last night when I made whole wheat rotini for dinner, which, by the way, I discovered is only 51% whole grain, my teen asked, “Why aren’t we having ‘string’ pasta?” When I queried if he just prefers the shape of spaghetti or also the taste, he informed me that he did not really like the stuff we’d been eating. Oh well.