Category Archives: Health/Nutrition

Spaghetti with Calamari Sauce and a Food Gal Giveaway

A tangle of noodles and calamari.

A tangle of noodles and calamari.


This bowl of pasta is chock-full of tender calamari.

That much, you can see.

But did you know there is also one serving of vegetables hidden within that is not visible?

Yes, there is corn, carrot and squash — a half cup’s worth — incorporated into each 4 ounces of the dried spaghetti noodles.

Golden Grain has launched a new line of pasta, Hidden Veggie, that comes in spaghetti, thin spaghetti, small penne and twisted elbows. The pasta cooks up just like any other dried pasta. It also looks and tastes the same as any other. In other words, your spaghetti isn’t going to all of a sudden taste like Bug Bunny’s favorite snack.

What you get, though, is 150mg of potassium per 2-ounce serving compared to the company’s regular spaghetti that contains none. The Hidden Veggie spaghetti also weighs in at 200 calories per 2-ounce serving, 10 calories fewer than the company’s regular spaghetti. The total fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, dietary fiber and protein amounts are the same with both, though the Hidden Veggie has 5mg of sodium, compared to 0mg for the company’s regular dried pasta.

If you’re worried about your family getting enough potassium, Hidden Veggie pasta is one way to up that nutrient quotient. Each 12-ounce box is about $1.99 and available at Safeway stores.

New Golden Grain Hidden Veggie dried pastas.

New Golden Grain Hidden Veggie dried pastas.

I used the Hidden Veggie spaghetti in this recipe for “Linguini with Calamari Sauce,” swapping out the slightly wider, flatter noodles called for originally. The recipe is from “Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book” (Welden Owen) by food journalist Julia Della Croce, of which I received a review copy when it was first published three years ago. What’s great about this book is that it truly spans the world of pasta, including recipes not only for making fresh Italian pasta and dishes with dried noodles, but also for making Asian noodles and dumplings. Find recipes for everything from “Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon” to “Pork and Cabbage Gyoza.”

The calamari pasta sauce cooks up quickly, in only about twice the time it takes to cook the dried spaghetti. Shallots, garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes are sweated gently in olive oil, before adding tomato paste, red wine and bottled clam juice. The calamari is added in for the final five minutes of cooking. I used calamari bodies, already cleaned and scored, purchased from my local Japanese market to make the process even easier.

The tangle of noodles absorbs the briny sauce that’s a little sweet from the tomato paste and a little spicy from the pepper flakes. The tender calamari add just enough chew.

It’s a dish that’s a classic at Italian restaurants. Try your hand at it to realize just how easy it is to make at home, too.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win practically a year’s worth of Golden Grain Hidden Veggie pasta — 24 coupons, each good for one free package of the new pasta varieties. Hidden Veggie pasta has rolled out in these markets: San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Oahu, Seattle and Portland, Ore. So, entries should be limited to those folks who live in those markets or have friends in those regions you want to give the winnings to. Entries will be accepted through midnight PST March 23. Winner will be announced March 25.

How to win?

If a fairy with a magic wand could make it so, what else would you want a year’s worth of? And why? Best answer wins the pasta.

Here’s my own answer:

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A Soup or A Side: Curried Parsnips

Curried parsnips star as a side or the foundation of a soup.

Before spring is sprung, I had to get in one last fix of my favorite parsnips.

An often overlooked root veggie, they have a lovely nutty, vanilla taste, making them ideal for using in so many ways.

Take these “Curried Parsnips.”

As is, they make for an easy side dish. But mixed with two cups of stock, then pureed, they also make for the base of a comforting, velvety soup.

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Baked Better Introduces A Gluten-Free Bread Mix; Plus New Santa Cruz Organic Jams

Fort Green Gluten Free bread mix -- just add water and a sweetener of your choice.

With more and more of my friends going gluten-free, I’m always on the lookout for baked goods that fit their dietary restrictions and taste good.

Believe me, the two don’t always go hand in hand.

But at Brooklyn’s Baked Better, they definitely do. The company, founded by two friends, makes organic bread mixes that make baking your own loaf at home a cinch. All you do is add water and a tad of honey or sugar.

I’d already tried their three initial mixes, when they sent me a sample of their newest creation: Fort Greene Gluten Free.

The mix, named after one of Brooklyn’s most historic neighborhoods, contains brown rice flour, light buckwheat flour, teff flour, rolled oats, ground flaxseed meal, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and yeast.

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Valentine’s Day Treats, Chocolate Dinner & More

Make Valentine's Day especially sweet with these boxed macarons. (Photo courtesy of La Boulange)

La Boulange’s Valentine’s Days Offerings

From now through Feb. 15, your neighborhood La Boulange is offering three sweet treats especially for Valentine’s Day.

Choose from a box of raspberry and vanilla macarons for $12.50; a box of chocolate and raspberry macarons for $12.50; or a gorgeous heart-shaped raspberry fruit tart ($9.95).

Find them at any of the Bay Area La Boulange locations.

Chocolate hearts filled with raspberries and strawberries. (Photo courtesy of La Boulange)

Sent Sovi’s Savory Chocolate Dinner

Who says chocolate is only for dessert?

Not at Sent Sovi in Saratoga, where Chef-Proprietor Josiah Slone will be hosting his third annual “Savory Chocolate Dinner” at 7 p.m. Feb. 28.

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Gluten-Free Baked Goods from Dia Delights and A Food Gal Giveaway

(Front to Back): Dia Delights' chocolate-raspberry cupcakes frosted with vegan cream cheese, raspberry frosting, and coconut frosting.

After moving to the United States a decade ago from Serbia, Sanja Pesich inexplicably found herself doubled over in pain anytime she ate bread.

Turns out she had developed a sensitivity to gluten.

As she educated herself about how to bake her favorite treats without gluten, an idea for a new business also came about.

The result is Dia Delights.

Pesich, a Santa Clara University business school graduate, put her studies to work, creating a business that specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods. She sells them at the Vallco farmers market in Cupertino on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and at the Santa Teresa Boulevard (at Camino Verde) farmers market in San Jose on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additionally, her treats are sold at Good Karma Deli in San Jose. She also does custom orders for weddings and parties.

After winning a California Entrepreneurship Program scholarship, she teamed up with her business partner, Tanja Vrcelj, who has a son with severe allergies to milk, dairy and peanuts.

Pesich says nothing is more satisfying to her than to bring her treats to a classroom and watch as every child, no matter their food allergies, are able to indulge. “For children with allergies, not being able to participate in celebrations can be very emotional,” she says.

Recently, I had a chance to sample some of her goodies. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from food allergies, but I’m always interested in trying products geared to those with dietary restrictions to see just how closely they can resemble the real deal.

Gluten-free pumpkin bread.

In Pesich’s case, she comes as close as one can. Her cookies and cakes are made with a flour mix that consists of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, white sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and fava bean flour. Her products also make use of extra virgin coconut oil, cane sugar, soy protein, lactic acid (non-dairy and derived from sugar beets) and flaxseed meal. Her cakes and cookies often incorporate fruit to ensure they stay moist.

There’s a nice homemade quality to the products, as they are all created by hand in small batches. The double-chocolate chip cookie was soft and fudgy tasting, with just a hint of a beany note to it. The chocolate chip cookie was cakey in texture and the oatmeal cranberry cookie was none too sweet and full of heartiness from the gluten-free whole grain oatmeal.

The chocolate-raspberry cupcakes are moist with a muffin-like texture. You wouldn’t know the cream cheese frosting flavored with a touch of vanilla was vegan from just the taste, as it’s as thick, creamy and as satisfying as the familiar Philadelphia brand.

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