Friday 6 June 2014

Foodie Friday - the great pasta swap

I love food and I enjoy cooking, but I just don't seem to have as much time as I'd like trying out new recipes and making every meal from scratch.

I do have some staple recipes that I come back to time and again as they've had the husband seal of approval - high praise indeed! In particular, he loves my lasagne and I have to admit, I do too. I am a big fan of carbs and anything that's topped with cheese is good in my book (I know, I should feel guilty about that statement but sorry, I don't!).

I am starting to cook a bit more and having a 13 month old to cook for is giving me a very good reason to try new things. To fit in cooking and fresh food into our busy week, I tend to make larger meals or batch cook recipes on a Saturday or Sunday, so we have a couple of dinners sorted or leftovers that can be frozen for another day.

As you may have read before on my blog, I'm trying to reconsider my overall health and wellbeing and I have of late been trying to give myself a boost through juicing and by taking Udo's Choice Ultimate Blend Oil as a daily supplement. I have also added the collagen and Five A Day powders from Xenca to help give me a good dose of vitamins and other goodies that will hopefully make a difference to how I feel from the inside out.

As part of this step-change and with my desire to be a Nigella in the making, I have tried an exciting alternative pasta in some of my latest dishes.

Rizopia is a pasta that's made from only organic brown rice and water, which actually makes it the only 'good carb' you can eat. Well, to me they are all good, but in health terms, this is the real deal. Rizopia pasta is a great source of energy and as it retains the natural oils found in brown rice, it's also very good at lowering cholesterol.

As such, this healthy pasta has scooped several awards for it's texture, taste and added health benefits and can tick all the following boxes:

  • Low fat food
  • Sodium free
  • Trans fats free
  • Cholesterol free
  • Gluten free
  • Wheat free
  • Egg free
  • Milk free
  • No GMO's

That all sounds amazing but, for me to make the swap from standard pasta to this, the proof would be in the eating.

I decided the best way to put Rizopia to the test would be to cook two meals - lasagne for me and the hubs (if I can convince him, you know I'm onto something!) and a five veg pasta bake for Ethan.


A firm family favourite, hubs loves it when I cook this and it's easily his favourite meal. It's right up there for me too - just add garlic bread and a nice side salad. There's a saying in our house: "nothing beats next day lasagne!".

I won't bore you with my recipe as everyone has their own way of making lasagne but I will let you in on my secret ingredient - cinnamon. Yep, that's right. I add cinnamon to the browned beef, along with a few dashes of Worcester sauce and chopped garlic, before adding the tomato sauce and it seems to add a bit of depth to the flavour.

Now keep that under your hat!

I made my lasagne in the same way as usual but instead of using the usual fresh pasta sheets, I used Rizopia's lasagne sheets. They come in long thin strips so it took three pieces per layer to cover the sauce. I managed three layers of pasta before reaching the top of the dish and after adding my white sauce and the crucial cheese topping, my lasagne was ready for the oven. Gas mark 6 for 45 minutes was enough time to have it bubbling to perfection.

So, it had cooked just like normal pasta, but how did it taste? Well, after being a little dubious, hubs quickly cleared his plate and I agreed that the lasagne was full of flavour and we just couldn't tell the difference.

Five veg pasta bake

I made this up as I went along - I simply wanted to make an easy, tasty dish for Ethan that was packed full of good things. I chose the Rizopia penne pasta for this dish and followed the on pack instructions. Within 12 minutes, just as it said on the packet, my pasta was cooked to perfection so I drained this and put it to one side. Meanwhile, I chopped and diced a leek, a courgette, carrot and swede and once cooked, added these to the pasta along with a couple of handfuls of spinach. I poured over some white sauce and added cheese before giving everything a good mix. I popped this in the oven to go nice and brown and 25 minutes later, it looked ready so I set it on the side to cool.

Again, the pasta was super easy to cook and this recipe is really flexible, so you can add any vegetables that you may have in your fridge, according to what you or your little one likes to eat.

But, what would Ethan think?

I was a bit unsure as to what he would make of my pasta bake - he's good with his food but has been a bit hit or miss with my home-made recipes as opposed to finger foods, as he can be in a bit of a funny mood at dinner time.

No such complaints this time though! I naturally tried some of the pasta myself as I went along but it was Ethan who scoffed a complete bowl without a moment's hesitation. Success! Even the baby couldn't tell the difference.

I really enjoyed cooking with Rizopia and I'm looking forward to trying some other recipe ideas - there's some helpful suggestions on the Rizopia website so I will be sure to check these out.

Knowing that the switch I made to my tried and tested recipes is a healthy one is enough to convince me to use this pasta again and again. The taste is great and it cooks just the same as standard pasta so really, why wouldn't you want to make the great pasta swap?

Rizopia pasta is available to buy from Amazon (including free delivery), Ocado and leading independent health food stores across the UK - find out more here. And if you're a coeliac, you can ask your doctor for Rizopia on prescription. Find them on Twitter here.

* Note: I was kindly sent three types of Rizopia for the purposes of this review but the results speak for themselves - it's delicious!

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