Hasta La Pasta, Baby

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.

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58 Comments

Filed under family, food

58 responses to “Hasta La Pasta, Baby

  1. Spaghetti is the only pasta I eat, and the whole wheat version is tasty enough. I just don’t like the small serving size for the calories. So now I have pasta once a year or so as a splurge meal. I don’t really miss it that much, which kind of surprised me.

    • Karen

      The longer I went without, the less I missed it. I find it is often easier for me to abstain totally from certain foods, and let the cravings go away completely, than to try to moderate. I was pretty careful with my little serving size the other night but could sense how easy it would have been to eat more. I suspect that when my son leaves in the fall I just won’t make pasta.

  2. Oh yeah, I love pasta. A favorite “comfort” used to be shell pasta with tons of butter. Nothing else, just the pasta and butter. Am happy to say it’s been a long, long time since I indulged in that binge.

    Yes, we’ve tried the whole wheat pasta. Some is better than others – the jury is still out. And like you, I realized that the term “whole wheat” is misleading in many cases.

    • Karen

      Someone blogged about trying different brands and which she liked best. Wish I could remember who:) I forgot about pasta salads! I even like it cold.

  3. this week has been rough for me my eating has been way off will most likely gain wheni weigh in

  4. I have to admit, I’m not a huge pasta fan. I’m from an italian family and so, we ate pasta 3 times a week growing up. At this point, i’m just totally fed up with it.

    As for Whole wheat pasta, I don’t really find there is any difference with the taste assuming you put sauce on it. I was able to sneak a bowl by my grandfather without much protest.

    • Karen

      I think you are right – the sauce is probably key. My older son puts little on his so he might be more aware. We did not eat it much growing up but my mom made a fabulous baked mac and cheese every now and then:)

  5. I love pasta! And garlic. Since both of those are a no go for me, I have bought rice pasta. I’ll let you know.

  6. We’re big time pasta fans, but have really cut back. And we’ve been doing the whole wheat pasta for a couple of years now, so I was excited to see that stuff show up at Costco as well. My daughter is only 15 months old and has only had the whole wheat stuff, so I’m hoping that when she does get a taste of the white stuff THAT will taste weird to her 😉

    • Karen

      Oh I sooooo wish I had started my kids off with whole grains. Back then I didn’t eat them either. And I don’t remember any whole grain pastas or brown rice. Lots of dense breads though.

  7. Lucky for me I am not a pasta or rice fan… like them but just would rather eat other stuff so for me, that frees up a ton of carbs! 😉 I would choose my bread any time over pasta…

    Well, you can always make a mini portion for you…. 😉

  8. Pasta…could take it or leave it. In recent years, instead of pasta for me, I’ve put my Italian sauces or ‘kitchen sink chicken (Italian seasoned) stir fries on a pile of broccoli slaw instead. Funny….I ‘hate’ broccoli, but love broccoli slaw. And as a pasta substitute that is really healthy to boot, it works REALLY well. Still love the occasional Maggiano’s Baked Ziti, though. LOL

  9. We’re converts to the whole wheat pasta–the other doesn’t taste good to me anymore. BUT, the brand makes a huge difference in taste and texture. I prefer Barilla whole wheat pastas. The shape of the pasta makes a difference in how well it holds the sauce. A light (non chunky) sauce for think strands, a thicker sauce with twisted, bigger pieces. We transferred to whole wheat gradually, through some of the “blend” brands.

  10. Pasta isn’t one of my carb frenzy foods. I cook it maybe twice a month (at most) and use one that is lower carb and allegedly healthier – Barilla Plus I think. I like the whole wheat version – the men folk think it’s a little too heavy and chewy (figures I love that).

    Mostly when I make something with which pasta is the natural accompaniment, I roast up spaghetti squash for myself. I absolutely love it and have tons leftover to go with other stuff the next couple days.

    • Karen

      I really like spaghetti squash too which is strange since I pretty much hate other squashes. Okay, I will do zucchini certain ways. (Bread does not count!) But most are about masking the taste and texture. I love spaghetti squash with just a bit of brown sugar on top. Makes me feel guilty about that little bit of sugar though.

  11. I *love* pasta – it’s a total comfort food from my childhood, so I can’t even keep it in the house out of concern that it would trigger a binge. I’m loving pasta substitutes these days, like spaghetti squash and shredded zucchini. Not exactly the same, but delicious and healthier!

    • Karen

      I’ll have to try the zucchini that way. Love spaghetti squash. I saw someone on TV yesterday make lasagna with zucchini instead of pasta!

  12. I adore pasta- but I can’t eat it like I used to. I remember HUGE plates of pasta (probably 3-4 servings worth!) a few nights a week.

    I can’t really remember the last time I had pasta- it was definitely not this year! lol.

    I have bought the active lifestyle pastas- and whole wheat is better than whole grain because CORN can be considered a whole grain apparently! I think over time people get used to it- hubby eats it and he’s SUPER picky.

  13. Boxed mac and cheese is my weakness. I’m a good cook, so why I would crave this processed crap is a mystery! My son complains about the whole grain, brown rice, spelt or kamut pasta I prepare, so Í’ve gone back to making him the white stuff. Extra work for Mom, but he’s happy and I’m happy.

    • Karen

      Sometimes that processed crap either is the taste we remember or they put in so much bad stuff that it makes us crave it more! I’m about making my boys happy too:) Mostly.

  14. I too, love me some pasta.

    I ALSO am addicted to Costco…

    Guitar Guy and I have a FULL pantry of whole wheat pasta from Costco. Penne, Rotini, Spaghetti…you name it we have it.

    What do we also have? A SCALE and measuring cups. Because we BOTH struggle with portions.

    We have discovered the beauty of adding tons of veggies and chicken/fish to our pasta while in the pot…it makes the portions look huge. And in reality, they are so filling.

    Guitar Guy is a wiz with seasonings, so the pasta is an amazing way for us to add to our healthy meals, keep money in our pockets, and keep us happy 🙂

    • Karen

      I wondered how to measure this. The serving size said 2 oz but I figured that was a dry measurement. Makes it kinda hard to figure it out after a pot is cooked. I figured I needed to have a cup or less.

  15. I definitely love pasta and have substituted whole wheat with no problems. I tell people I cook for it’s whole wheat too and so far no complaints. Then again, I have no children.

    It’s great that your whole family is on board with healthier eating endeavors!

  16. I almost always buy whole wheat pasta these days, but Dr. Andrew Weil states that a little regular, white pasta is okay so long as it’s cooked al dente. Eating it prior to thorough cooking significantly reduces its glycemic index. This is a good thing.

    • Karen

      Ah but that requires me to actually be able to judge doneness! I suspect we prefer it past al dente. I remember in college someone throwing spaghetti against a wall saying “when it sticks it’s done.”

  17. Not a big pasta fan here. Potatoes are more to my taste. I think it’s because my mother was a terrible cook and any pasta she made was totally overcooked and tasted like glue.

    • Karen

      I have pretty much given up potatoes, as you might have guessed. Love sweet potatoes now. Probably only tried them a couple of years ago.

  18. sunnydaze

    I could easily eat pasta everyday but have cut back to maybe once or twice a month. I’ve tried the wheat version and didn’t like it. I’d rather eat the “real thing” less and enjoy it more.

  19. We went from swearing we were never eating the whole wheat version of anything—-to actually preferring and eating virtually all of our bread & pasta in the whole wheat varieties. LOVE it!

    Sarah
    TheWeatheredWord.blogspot.com

  20. I can so relate to this post! I have been guilty of making several different options to accommodate all the taste buds in my family as well. I should never have started that but oh well.

    I am not a huge pasta fan but my hubby and son love the stuff. I do however feed them Barilla whole grain (51% wheat)which is at least better than the all refined white stuff! I fix them a huge pasta meal at least once a week and they can dine off the leftovers for a couple more lunches as well. I usually but not always opt for something else. Not because of carbs or calories, just personal preference.

    • Karen

      I was trying to remember who wrote about different brands and thought it might have been you. Someday I hope I can make a meal and satisfy everyone!

  21. I.Love. Pasta. Pasta does not effect my “I’m full” meter, and I could eat a bucket full of spaghetti. Gross? Yes. But totally doable. It took me a while to get used to whole wheat, and I don’t like it as much – so it’s good becuase it keeps me from over eating it.

  22. Funny about pasta as I also don’t tend to be a big eater. Really, I’m not. I earned my fat from calorie laden sweets while watching TV at night.

    BUT pasta. I don’t stop until I’m stuffed, and I don’t get stuffed quickly with that stuff. Seems like there’s always room for more pasta!

    I don’t have it at all now. I buy Miracle Noodles. Fake pasta. 0 cals, 0 carbs.

    Deb

    • Karen

      You are not the only one who said that about it not making you feel full. I need to check those out. Also, shirataki noodles. Have you tried those? Maybe they are the same thing.

  23. Karen, pasta is something I don’t miss so much. Unlike potatoes and tortilla chips, which show up to tempt me whenever I’m dining out. 🙂

  24. I used to adore pasta and eat it all the time. All.the.time.

    When I really began noticing how much other food I could get for the same calories I stopped eating it. I actually just prefer the fluffy white pasta when I do eat it LOL!

    My favorite is ravioli or farfalle. I swear the shapes taste different 😀

  25. Over the past few years pasta has become something I could take or leave. Sometimes I use a little in a dish (and I like the whole grain and brown rice varieties) but I don’t crave it.

  26. I’m not a big meal eater either. My excess weight is purely from sweet treats, such as cake and candy bars. But I once lost 70 pounds while eating pasta once a week. Tuesday nights were pasta nights. I love the stuff, but only eat a half a cup of the whole grain stuff with three smallish meatballs and 1/2 C. sauce. I think I’ll start the Tuesday night pasta tradition again!

    • Karen

      Such great portion control! I was pretty careful about what I ate the other night but could sense how easy it would have been to eat more.

  27. That is to funny. I don’t like whole wheat pasta, so I eat the regular when and if I eat it.

  28. There is a pasta that I have been wanting to try but just haven’t gotten around to it: http://www.fibergourmet.com/ClassicPastaHealthy.aspx
    for 2 oz it’s only 130 calories and it’s jam packed with fiber (18 grams!). I have heard really good things about it but I think it’s only available online as I can’t find it anywhere around here. I’m always on the lookout for pasta alternatives.

    • Karen

      Please let me know what you think if you try it. Or, right a post about it:)

    • Karen

      I just checked that site and can share that I have tried their crackers. They carry them in my grocery store in the health section. Very expensive but tasty for lots of fiber and little calories. Lots of strange ingredients but I know you are like me and not scared off by the fake stuff:)

  29. You have the most-fun titles!!!

    My hubby is the fussy one. Everyone else is fine with brown rice and whole-grain pasta except him. Pthhtht! I still serve it for the most part but have reduced the number of meals with pasta to once per week.

  30. I tried whole grain pasta once. I’ll just say it’s not for us.

  31. LOL, I love pasta too! Almost enough to tempt me to try the “carb lover’s diet” if I weren’t so sick of reading about different ways to eat less. Ha! We do mainly stick to whole wheat pasta, but I do like the white kind better. Unlike with brown rice, I prefer the taste of it to white b/c it actually has (good) flavor whereas white doesn’t seem to taste like anything. Sorry your experiment didn’t go as well as you thought! kids. 🙂

  32. It’s not really the pasta I’d miss as much as the SWEETS. I’m not sure I could do it. I also LOVE potatoes and my favorite thing to eat is a bean burrito at our local Mexican restaurant. I’d definitely have to give that one up and the thought makes me sad. So I’ll stick with Weight Watchers…for now.

  33. Ah, rotini… tell the kid it holds the pasta saucemuch better than string pasta. It also is more accurate when using as ammunition in a sling shot that spaghetti. Well it is!

  34. potatoes and pasta, love them but they are the devil,giggle…I enjoyed my visit to your lovely blog. wishing you happiness and a super weekend, Hugs!

  35. I have TRIED to eat whole wheat pasta…I can’t choke it down. I just think it tastes disgusting! I’d rather cut back in other areas than eat whole wheat pasta…!

  36. Seriously – regular pasta is so yummy – funny how our taste buds are trained, eh? I’ve seen different versions out there – soy, rice, etc – but I haven’t tried them much. I would SOOOOOOO love to find a good pasta alternative though cuz the flour stuff is my nemesis. And the teen? Geesh – he’s probably too old to trick! I did make spaghettin squash & my boy liked it though – I was soooooo pleaseantly surprised!

  37. It doesn’t have to be an all or none thing. Mix the regular and whole wheat pasta together. Same with other things like rice or even coke.

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