My mother and I agree that a good cook can make something out of nothing. Translated, you look in the fridge or even better think about what simple ingredients might be in the pantry and fridge and come up with a new recipe that has great taste and flavor. Contrast that with a commercial product substitute that is more expensive and less nutritious than the original product, and has no taste.
My example is noodle substitutes. They may go by Shirataki noodles or Nooodles or Miracle noodles. They are sold in the cold “health food ” section and promise nonGMO, no guilt and no gluten. They also do not contain any shiitake mushroom or soy products and no nutrients of any kind. They are made from glucomannan which is a dietary fiber from the Konjac Plant. They promote a feeling of fullness because the absorb fluid in the stomach and become a gelatinous blob. Glucomannan is also sold in a powdered capsule form as a weight loss supplement.
Is this a safe product? Is it a healthy product? Is it worth the $3.00 price for 8 ounces of product with the serving size being 1.6 ounces?
Let’s look at the serving size of 1.6 ounces first. The serving size of dry pasta is 2 ounces which becomes one cup of pasta. This serving would contain about 180 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber as well as 8% percent of the daily RDA for iron. A 16 once box costs about $2.15. So right up front you are paying a substantial amount more for a product with a substantial amount less of nutrients. In this case there are no nutrients just fiber.
Is this product worth the price to have the mental fulfillment that is has virtually no calories so you can eat as much as you want? One cannot be certain that other nutrients from other foods are also not malabsorbed because of the large gelatinous mass created. That would be an even higher price to pay for a non nutrient.
So I assume the dilemma is that people want pasta but not the calories. The reality is that if you choose to eat as many nutrients as you can with the calories that are correct for your desired body and exercise type, the weight will take care of itself.
Being overweight is a definite risk for lifestyle diseases. But attacking just the weight will not result in optimal health. Choosing products that promise all you can eat at the cost of poor nutrition will not help either.
I suggest focusing on the sauce. Make it nutrient dense by adding many different vegetables, greens and even beans. Then add it to a whole grain such as rice, quinoa or pearl barley and on occasion a whole grain or bean flour pasta. Just remember that pastas are more calorie dense so the portion will be smaller. That also does not mean that the sauce cannot be served over other vegetables such as spaghetti squash or mushrooms.
Eating plant based is not expensive when you eat whole real foods. Don’t fall for the quick fixes that will leave your wallet lean and your body nutrient deficient.