Friday, August 31

Pastafarian Groove

Before I say this, I need to point out that PASTA WILL PROBABLY KILL YOU. OK, my moral duty is done.

Next, I also want to point out that Big Daddy D has a zucchini-as-pasta recipe he rates as his #1 lowcarb favorite recipe, which since his website is stuffed full of awesome recipes is probably really saying something.

I just wanted to mention kind of a trivial thing here.

Long before going lowcarb, before the carb thing was even a conscious issue for me, I had a problem with pasta. The problem was, even in my blood-sugar-oblivion of those days, I knew very well from repeat experience that pasta would make it spike and crash. For some reason, I could eat three times the carbs in other foods and not seem to have too major an effect, but eat pasta, and I would literally get dizzy and lightheaded, or if sitting down like on my bed with my laptop, might literally just pass out into sleep without ever going through the conscious decision to do that first. It was frightening.

Some time ago I bought "Dreamfields" pasta. This is said to be "lowcarb" pasta. It's got hype all over the box, and all over the internet.

See the idea is that the processing of the grain makes the protein count much higher, and the fiber count much higher -- rather like in Wheat Protein Isolate for example (a flour-type that products like CarbQuick utilize) -- and hence, the resulting pasta made from that flour has enough of both to offset the more limited carb count and slow down its digestion so that it has a lesser impact on your blood sugar.

The problem is, for me, it doesn't work.

I am not diabetic. I do seem to be insulin resistant. But there are only a couple of foods that so kick the ass of my blood sugar regulation that shortly after eating them I all but pass out, and pasta -- even in limited doses -- is one of them.

Since pasta with pesto was hands-down my favorite food in the universe next to pizza, the other food-that-will-kill-me as irony would have it, this is just SUCH a bummer.

I tried Dreamfield's pasta. And I had the same blood sugar response as I get with regular pasta, basically. If it was reduced in any way, it was not measurable to me -- since I'm not literally measuring the "high" of the blood sugar as diabetics do, merely reporting on my physical "nearly passed out" response to the later blood sugar drop.

I've heard other people report this on the lowcarb forums, including diabetics who were measuring: that Dreamfields pasta spiked their blood sugar in a way it was heavily advertised not to.

So, my 30-second hope that maybe teeeeny amounts of pasta on my higher-carb cycling days would be do-able were dashed.

But then....

Had to buy some pasta for a dinner I promised to make for the kid and her friend. Standing in the grocery, I see this pasta called Barilla Plus. Now, Barilla is the primary manufacturer of pasta in the world. They've probably induced more gradual diabetes than any corporation except the soda makers. But this "Plus" version, as I read it, appears to be the equivalent of Dreamfield's: high protein, high fiber.

It doesn't actually make any big deal about the lowcarb aspect, but that is the essential result, is less blood sugar impact from the carbs which is the whole point. So I figure since I have to buy something for the kids, I'll try this -- I'm mixing it with meat so hopefully they'll at least have more protein.

Dinner -- hamburger meat, newman's spaghetti sauce, and penne pasta of the Barilla Plus variety, with parmesan cheese and some oregano on top -- looked and smelled so amazingly good that I fell completely off the wagon and ate a bunch of it. Not just a little. A bunch.

Oddly, the "dizzy nearly passed out" feeling never happened. I felt perfectly normal and hours later, marveled.

Probably a fluke, I figured. And there was lots of meat in that dish to try and 'balance' the carbs better and... and it was probably a fluke. I'd love to use that excuse to try and explain why, about six hours later, I nuked a bunch of this concoction (which was very thick, between the meat and penne) and ate a whole plate of the stuff.

And still I had NONE of the "blood sugar crash and burn"-effect that I get with any other form of pasta -- including dreamfields.

I ate some more of it the next day. For whatever reason, this ghoulash-like thick mix in the fridge called me like a siren -- something that carbs in general don't do, by the way, when I'm on lowcarb I am not really tempted by carby food in general. It just tasted really GOOD and was great as a quick heat-up munchie food. But still no measurable effect.

Here's the more amazing thing. I ate two big portions of this one day, and another big portion of it the next day. And it did not seem to affect my ketosis at all.

Whether this is the meat, or the improvement of the pasta, I have no idea. But since even lowcarbers sometimes make pasta dishes for others, or have carb-cycling high-carb days, I thought I would mention this stuff.

Barilla Plus. Make it with white sauce and lots of chicken, or red sauce and lots of beef burger, if you must have it at all. (I'm sure the preference is not to have it at all, on lowcarb plans -- especially if you are gluten-free!) Given that it didn't make my blood sugar crash as-prepared, and didn't seem to interfere with my ketosis, I think I may plan this as one of the foods I have on my higher-carb days -- not in excess, just as a nice change.

I don't really like the idea of programming myself to eat high-carb-variants, as I feel that sorta defeats the purpose of learning to eat well, but my kid is a pasta freak and it's difficult for me to resist that particular temptation. From now on, if and when that might happen, I'm using that stuff instead.



Big Daddy D said...

I looked up Barilla Plus on their website and couldn't find the carbohydrate counts. Can you post the counts and serving size?

Also, FYI my wife and I have begun experimenting with other phony pastas. The latest experiment was last night. We used a Jicama (pronounced HIC-UH-MUH), a Mexican turnip. We grated it on a course cheese grater then pan fried in oil. And, then we made an oriental sechuan peanut sauce. I haven't posted the recipe yet because it's still about 20 net carbs per serving due to the peanut butter in the sauce. I'm going to carb it down next time and if it's even 1/2 as good then it'll be posted. The jicama, cooked this way has a very similar taste and texture to pad thai.

Speaking of jicamas... we like making hash browns out of them! mmmm.

the witch said...

What you describe sounds just like what happens to me when I eat free glutamates. Glutamates cause you to release too much insulin and get a blood sugar crash. Glutamates have a worse effect on my blood sugar than carbohydrate. I wonder if you are slightly sensitive to them? Some of those pastas are heavily processed and contain hidden glutamates in their ingredients. Glutamates are often hidden in pasta sauces too, especially tomato.