06 June 2013

Slippery Supper: Devil's Tentacles Pasta with Lemon and Arugula

Tofu shirataki noodles and I have a contentious relationship.

At 20 calories per serving (40 calories in the entire bag), what's not to love, you ask? (If I may put words in your mouth...)

Dude, that's exactly the problem! In my opinion, in my "I work out and therefore I need real food" opinion, unless I were to eat an entire bag smothered in three cups of cashew cheeze sauce, I do not find these to be a valid "substitute" for pasta. (If I were to eat three cups of cashew cheeze sauce, which would be a lot, yes, I'd be looking for a low-calorie vehicle for said sauce, and then these would fit the bill. However, I don't want to do that.) 

I eat carbs. Yay, carbs. I eat complex carbs, such as whole grains, whole fruits and veggies, and legumes because the body digests these slowly (hence the name complex).

I've made an effort to kick simple carbs, such as refined sugar (cane sugar, beet sugar--we're not talking molecules or macronutrients, but ingredients), to the curb. My body says, "Hell no, we won't go," to the roller coaster high that comes from eating simple carbs. I notice my thinking is clearer, my mood is more stable (at least I need significant provocation to waver), and my overall sensations are sharper. It was not easy, and I dragged my heels through every last dessert, baked good, and cereal in my collection--the week after this, no the next one, no, the next one I'll quit!

Come on, addict, admit you have a problem.

It wasn't until one of my fellow health coach students suggested I cut back even on maple and agave and dates--just sweeten with fruit alone and notice fruits' and vegetables' unique sweetness--that I surrendered. So I did. After cleaning out the fridge of sugar-containing food at the Abbey, I went through my own items. I noticed while eating jumblejacks that I craved more (and was also extremely thirsty) when I ate them. If I was having a bad time, I'd seek out that which had the tiniest bit of sugar in it--these baked goods I made with a troublesome, sugar-sweetened trailmix--to get that high.

So. We are going clean. You may notice I keep changing around things on this blog, adding pages, playing with the subtitle. I think the "clean eats" movement/subculture/lifestyle/diet is towards what I'm gravitating. Being a religion scholar (I'm not an undergraduate anymore; therefore, I don't think saying "religion major" or student is quite accurate), I'm all about making clean/dirty, sacred/profane, inside/outside dichotomies and tearing apart said dichotomies, too. The term and its moral overtones fascinates me. This is coming from the kid who wrote hir junior paper on guilt language in religious diet manuals; of course this clean eating business attracts me. Plus also, it's what I grew up with. The first time I read a "clean eating" magazine or website, I thought, uh, this baked chicken dish with rice and veggies is the kind of dish my mom made in the '90s and still makes today. What's so revolutionary about this?

In a culture of dietary decadence, where salted caramel truffles and maple bacon doughnuts and deep-fried sugary baked goods are accessible one-could-have-them-daily treats, voluntary simplicity is a slap to the face of this (over)consumptive culture. Clean eating means eating that which is transparently understood. This cucumber came from the ground. This cow ate grass (one hopes--and I would venture to say clean eaters ought take into account the diet and lifestyle of its animal protein).

For all their strangeness, tofu shirataki noodles count as clean in my book because the ingredients list is simple: starch, starch, and a binding agent that's not toxic (far as I know). While this recipe may not be as clean as a salad in terms of one-ingredient components, it's pretty darn clean since there's few, if any,  incomprehensible ingredients. 

I modified this dish after my grandmother made the original for a family gathering two weeks ago.

Devil’s Tentacles Pasta with Lemon and Arugula
Modified from Tyler Florence’s “Angel Hair Pasta with Fried Chili Flakes, Lemon and Arugula

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 cups GF cracker crumbs (I used Mary’s Gone Crackers Original and Herb crackers)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
4 ounces vegan pesto (I had some frozen parsley hemp pesto that needed using)
2 packages tofu shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
6 cups arugula, washed and still wet

In a large skillet, heat the oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cracker crumbs and toast for a few minutes, again, until fragrant. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir briefly. Fold in the pesto and stir well (the pan will begin to get crowded). Add the noodles and arugula and stir carefully, cooking until the arugula wilts. Serve warm.

I forgot how weird the texture of the noodles is—slimy devil’s tentacles, not silky angel hair!

I learned why one is not supposed to freeze noodles the hard way. Actually, since freezing them leeches the water from the noodle matrix, they become pleasantly chewy.

Then I dolloped leftover chilli on my pasta because I couldn’t decide which to eat for supper.

It looked like vomit when I accidentally spilled the leftovers the next day. Not one of my better combinations.

Parting Shots

From Happy.Healthy.Fit again, this is June's challenge. I suppose I could just add 100s to the plank counts right off, but since I'm also doing INSANITY, I'm cool with working up to 100s in plank. I haven't done sit-ups since middle school fitness tests and I'm enjoying the hip-flexor work. Since beginning INSANITY, what jiggled doesn't jiggle so much anymore and my saddlebags are decreasing. Progress!

I made Carnival cookies from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. The recipe is all over the webbernetz as Heidi has loyal followers. My mom gave me the recipe to deconstruct and rebuild. Actually, I just added a little xanthan gum, used GF oats, and switched raisins for chocolate chips. As Ownie Mom said, the taste is "meh," but I like 'em for breakfast. These are definitely clean eats, the ubiquitous "banana-and-oats" simple cookie (OK, so there's popcorn, peanuts, raisins, and a little coconut oil here, too, but basically the same deal). Since the blogosphere has gone gaga for them, I may have to do my own post, just to put in my two Gothic Granola cents (Abraham Lincoln was so Gothic Steampunk...I mean, you know, the stovepipe hat and black suits? American history lolz).

I made another raw dessert: raw blueberry cheezek! It's muy delicioso and freezy cold for the hot days. We just better not lose power de repente like we did last week. I'm lookin' at you, Dominion!

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