I took a much needed break from writing these past couple weeks. It has been a very busy month for me between work and some pressing personal deadlines. I love writing for my blog more than I could ever explain, but I knew if I didn’t hit pause, I was going to accomplish what I needed to this month.
I just finished up my applications for graduate school in food studies/gastronomy. I felt as though I was under a ton of stress this month, not only trying to finalize all my materials but starting to come to terms with what this all means for me. Hitting that send button made it feel so real. It is a wild feeling to be on this journey.
Last night, I was recalling my time studying abroad during my undergraduate in Mendoza, Argentina. I loved my experience there, and I miss is frequently. It was probably the greatest time of my life thus far, but it was not without its challenges.
I am not known for being directionally adept. I blame my dad. (My family members can attest). I knew I had a poor sense of direction, but early on in my time there, I decided to venture out on my own with just a paper map and a local cell phone that I hadn’t quite learned how to use yet. Let’s just say that I got lost a few times.
There were times where I was so certain that I had made the turn in the right direction when I was walking, only to realize I had gone several blocks in the wrong direction. There were times that I was so turned around I wasn’t remotely sure how to get back where I needed to be. These are frightening experiences, especially when you are in a new country that speaks a different language. I didn’t have my smart phone to tell me where to go or English speaking passersby to help guide me in the right direction.
I could have easily freaked out when I was in these situations. Instead, I just figured it out. Somehow, even when I felt the most lost, I made it back to where I was going. Sure, I took longer routes at times than I needed to, but I always made it there. By the end of my semester abroad, I was nearly an expert in navigating the streets of Mendoza, as I had been walking everywhere for months. I often decided to take a 40 minute walk home instead of taking the bus because I felt like it. When I close my eyes, I can still the streets grids of Mendoza’s city center.
This story feels like a metaphor for my life right now. I am heading on this journey in my life, and I don’t have a clear guide or map. I am making decisions about my life that are going to put me in new places and new situations. It is a little scary, but it also exciting. I feel so good about the actions I have taken thus far, and I know there is more to come. Every single decision or action might not take me immediately where I want to be, but I am confident I am going to get there, just like I did in Argentina. So, I am embracing the process and the journey and not focused on my destination.
I have a few backlogged posts to catch up on, but for now, I will leave you with a brief review of a new product I discovered.
When I recently tested positive for a slight wheat allergy, one of my first thoughts was “don’t you dare take pasta away from me!” Pasta is in my bloodline. It’s one of my favorite things to make. I can’t imagine my life without it. I even just started to get into pasta making this fall, which felt like the most natural thing “me” thing I have ever done. The idea that I have to give that up is difficult to bear.
If I am being realistic, there is no way I could ever give up wheat pasta entirely. I just love it too much. There are going to be some times when I decide any negative effect on my body will be worth it. However, I know if I want to work towards my goals of taking care of myself and feeling better, I need to respect my body’s needs. So, I have been trying to embrace a more gluten free diet.
I was looking for some gluten free pasta options when I was making a chicken paprikash couple of weeks ago. (You will get to read more about that soon, I promise). I bought egg noodles for my friends, but I wanted a gluten free pasta for myself.
The problem is that it was so hard to find gluten free pasta that didn’t include corn or wasn’t $4-$5 per package. It isn’t anything absurd, but when you are used to paying $1 for a box of pasta, it is hard to fork up that much.
Then, I stumbled across a unique item in the regular pasta aisle. Barilla apparently makes these legume pastas. They are made with only one ingredient (either chickpea flour or red lentil flour) so they are completely gluten free.
I picked up a package of the chickpea rotini for my meal. They actually cook to al dente in slightly less time than regular pasta. They also look just like pasta, especially the chickpea ones. It is about the same look and color as regular rotini.
I would never lie to you about pasta, so this is my honest opinion of this product. Barilla is my go-to pasta brand, so I trust just about anything they make. My initial reaction was how it was clear that this was not regular pasta. I am a true pasta lover, so I am going to notice the difference. It has a decent structure, but there is a slight gritty texture to it. Once I constructed my meal and topped the pasta with my chicken paprikash, I quite enjoyed the pasta. I didn’t notice the texture difference as much. My brain seemed tricked into feeling like I was really eating pasta.
I liked the pasta so much, that I bought two more boxes. This time, I gave the lentil pasta a shot. I had some leftover sauce from the paprikash once I finished the chicken. I imagined I could turn that into a new meal.
The red lentil pasta was nearly identical in shape and texture to the chickpea pasta. The only clear difference is the color. I was hard to see my sauce on this dish, because my paprikash sauce was about the same color as the red lentil pasta. I did not notice a difference in taste between the two. The red lentil pasta was also enjoyable and gave me the illusion of eating pasta.
This pasta tastes good and is fairly healthy. Both the lentil and chickpea pastas are high in protein and lower in carbs than your traditional wheat pasta. This could easily be a less indulgent version of one of my favorite foods. Plus, it is much easier on my stomach. I am planning on making this a more regular part of my diet.
If you have a gluten intolerance/allergy, I highly recommend trying Barilla’s legume pastas. If you love pasta but are trying to cut carbs, I also recommend this pasta. You won’t be disappointed.