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Product Spotlight: Pastas and Pizza

Back to Product Review Main 

1.1.05 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Dreamfields Pasta

This might just be the most asked for product review in history. Since Dreamfields Pasta began showing up on grocery store shelves in February of 2004, we've been flooded with emails asking us for the "skinny" on this almost-too-good-to-be-true pasta. But this is no ordinary low carb pasta... nor do they claim it to be. So Low Carb Luxury took its time to make sure it is what it says it is before we were willing to go out on a limb and stamp it with our approval.

Today, we officially do that.

The question of "digestible carbs" (and how Dreamfields arrives at this number) is a tricky one. It's not a simple carbs minus fiber mathematical equation like most products use. There's a very specific science behind it.
It's one that we had to do some investigation on our own. This meant long talks with the company, talks with R&D folks, reading studies, and of course, doing our own studies. In point of fact, I was one of the guinea pigs who ate the pasta under controlled circumstances, and then tested my blood glucose response over the course of 1, 2, 4, and 8 hours. My personal results varied somewhat, but most definitely proved this was no ordinary pasta and was not causing a noticeable spike.

This revolution in low carb nutrition means that we can truly enjoy pasta dishes again... from a cool Macaroni Salad to a rich Penne with Alfredo. And make no mistake about it — this is really good pasta. As good as any premium pasta. And we checked that out for ourselves as well. For our review testing, we tried all the varieties of Dreamfields: Spaghetti, Elbows, Penne Rigate and Linguine. But for our comparisons, we stuck with the Penne Rigate for its shape, consistency, and mouthfeel. When testing, all pastas were served with only a butter and olive oil mixture.

Dreamfields For comparison testing, we chose Barilla, Creamette, and Kroger's brand. We also tested against Atkins Low Carb Pasta... in all cases, we used the penne. While about half of our reviewers preferred the Barilla brand to Dreamfields, the other half preferred the Dreamfields. And Dreamfields beat Creamette 5 to 1. It beat the Kroger's 10 to 1 and in all cases, the Atkins pasta lost to Dreamfields. Those are pretty amazing results for a pasta that fits a low carb lifestyle!

Of course, we cooked up some great dishes with it too, since we wanted to try it with a red sauce, a white sauce, and cold in a salad. Dreamfields actually has a better mouthfeel than most pastas that can easily get "waterlogged." It allows rich sauces to blanket it, and it shines with a premium taste, hot or cold.

Dreamfields pasta comes in at 5 grams of digestible carbs (for more on how digestible carbs work, see our article in the January 2005 LCL Magazine.) You can find it in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores, or at Netrition.

Product Discontinued
03.10.04 :: Product Recommendation & Review:

Last year we were proud to spotlight Keto's great new low carb spaghetti, and this year we're just as happy to recommend their newest offering,
Keto Fettuccine! Keto's been working at this for quite awhile and it shows.

It's a great tasting pasta that marries well with most any sauce. And we tried a lot of them... from a creamy alfredo style sauce, a basic butter sauce, and a cheese sauce to the basic "reds," notably their Keto sauces (see below.) It has a traditional mouthfeel and no overt "soy taste."

At 5 grams of effective carbohydrates (after deduction for 2 g of fiber), and only 110 calories per serving, this is a real fettuccine any low carb dieter can embrace! But the best part is that it's just delicious.

Keto Pasta Sauces Now, let's talk sauce... the new
Pasta Sauces from Keto are rich, thick and very authentic. In fact, they're made with imported Italian San Marzano Tomatoes! They come in three varieties:

  • Marinara
  • Vodka Sauce
  • Meat Sauce
These sauces come in at 4 grams of net carbs per
1/2-cup serving and we can tell you that's a real carb-bargain. If you're a pasta lover, run, don't walk, to buy these great new products from Keto. We highly recommend them!

The fettuccine is available from The Low Carb Connoisseur or from Netrition. The sauces are available directly from Keto Foods.

Product Discontinued
01.02.03 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Keto Spaghetti

There's a new pasta out, and this one's such a winner! It's as close to real spaghetti with a tiny fraction of the carbs as we've ever seen. The folks at Keto Foods have debuted their new
Keto Spaghetti and we think you're gonna want to keep this one in your pantry at all times. It cooks very much like any spaghetti (and comes packaged the same way.) We found it best when timed at 8 minutes from it being immersed in boiling water.

What surprised me was that when I tasted it right out of the pan (before butter or sauce was put on it), it wasn't bad at all... no heavy soy taste. By the time we added a sauce, it was really quite delicious. We were all commenting that if it weren't a reputable brand like Keto, we might be questioning the carb count on this stuff. It was that good. We tried it with several sauces including a classic meat and mushroom tomato-based Italian sauce (our favorite), an alfredo sauce (superb with diced chicken), and with a carbonara sauce (with plenty of bacon!) The spaghetti hold the sauces really well and doesn't get gummy or fall apart.
Keto Spaghetti
A single serving according to the package (it comes in 8-oz boxes) is 1/6 of the box and comes in at 5 effective grams of carbohydrate (after fiber.) Many of us found the serving size a little small and felt 1/4 of the package was more appropriate as a main dish. That would make it 7 1/2 grams of carb per serving... still very very reasonable!

If you've been missing spaghetti and need to keep those carbs down, this is the one. It's even low calorie (at 110 calories per serving)... well, until you add those rich sauces [grin].

If you're one of those people who really love "leftover spaghetti" (we are)... we checked that out too. We stored about a cup of cooked Keto Spaghetti in the Italian tomato sauce overnight in Tupperware, and reheated it the next day in the microwave to find it was still delicious 24 hours later. In some ways, even better since the sauce had truly "married" itself to the pasta. Keto Spaghetti is available from The Low Carb Connoisseur and netrition.

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05.06.02 :: Product Recommendation & Review:

Pastalia Pasta and Sauces More Pasta, folks!

In the mood for a bowl of fettuccine? Want it covered in a rich, thick, Italian sauce? You're gonna love the newest entry into the low carb pasta market --
Pastalia Pasta and Sauces!

Fettuccine Balls The pasta itself comes in two varieties --
Plain Fettuccine, and Tomato & Basil Fettuccine. Each are tightly wrapped balls of fettuccine noodles in resealable plastic pouch-bags. They are prepared like any other pasta, but take a bit longer to cook (directions say 15 minutes, but we found they were nicely al dente in 10 minutes... adjust as you like.)

Both varieties are very, very good. While it's not true that they are identical to the high carb varieties of pasta, these are the closest yet. As you might guess, there's a trade-off. They come in at 7 grams of carbs per serving (after fiber), but we think the serving sizes are unrealistically small, and instead of 4.5 servings per bag, we think 3 servings per bag makes for a very hearty meal. This makes them 10.5 carbs per serving. But they're so good, we think they're worth it a few times each month for a real pasta lovers' treat.

Fettuccine & Sauce The Pastalia pasta sauces come in four varieties: Fra Diavolo (with onions and lemon pepper), Vodka Sauce (with Parmigiano and Romano cheeses, and Vodka), Puttanesca (with olives, capers, and anchovies), and Classic Marinara. No sugar added and low in carbs, these sauces are spicy delicious. The Puttanesca (which I was surprised to find was all our favorites since it's made with anchovies) tastes nearly identical to a sauce I used to get at an amazing Italian restaurant in Chicago years ago.

We think you'll love 'em too! Pastalia pastas and sauces are available from
The Low Carb Connoisseur.

Product Discontinued
07.24.01 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Due Amici Pasta Lite Are you one of those people that watch those TV Products ads and shake your head? I used to be one of them (and still am with many things), but I have a much more open mind now. Why?

Well, since low-carbing, I've seen the 'infomercials' that promote both the Atkins Diet and the Protein Power Diet. There was a time I would have assumed these must be scams since they were being sold in such a fashion. Now, of course, I know better. So it was with a more open mind that I saw another "TV Product" — the new line of Low Carb
Due Amici Pasta Lite!

Due Amici Pasta Lite No, I didn't get it from that infomercial — I got it from one of my favorite low-carb vendors (Low Carb Dieter's Page), but we're sure glad we opted to try it for the review group.

The great news is that it DOES come in handy considering all the options they offer — Capellini, Elbow Macaroni, Linguini, Penne Rigate, and Rigatoni.

You can make lots of traditional pasta-enhanced dishes and it's quite good. A little "chewier" than traditional pasta (obviously since it's not starchy), but has a pretty good texture and flavor that I think most will really like. It's much more like a whole wheat pasta than "regular" pasta. At approximately 3 carbs per serving (after 7 grams of fiber reduction,) it's available online from The Low Carb Dieter's Page or The Low Carb Connoisseur.

Product Discontinued
03.12.01 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Keto Pizza Dough Mix Last August when the folks at Keto first introduced their Bread Machine Mix, we'd tried making a pizza dough with it and were pretty pleased with the results. The only two drawbacks were that it rose too much (we had to use a "dough relaxer" [review to come soon] to hold it down) and that the quanity was "off" for a pizza dough. We expressed a wish for them to make a dough specifically for pizza crusts.

In the meantime, others have introduced Pizza crust (or kit) options. Most are pretty good, but none have exactly hit that deep-dish pizzeria feel we were looking for — a dough with a faint sweetness and a lot of "pull" to it. This month, Keto grants our wish with their new Keto
Pizza Dough Mix.

Keto Pizza Dough Mix Obviously, the first thing we did was set about making pizza. We went for thicker crusts (came out the best), thinner crust (you'll need to "dock" the dough for this), and a few in between. We really like the deeper dish, but especially when we season the crust with some good Italian herbs and garlic before baking. We also found it was worlds easier to let the bread machine handle the mixing and kneading.

One of our members suggested trying a "Stromboli". Can you believe I'd never heard of this? (People thought perhaps I'd been living in a cave — heck, I thought it was a volcano.) Anyway, what it is is a great folded, baked Italian sandwich (I assume that's where "Hot Pockets" came from.) Our Stromboli expert, Jan, developed a quick and delicious recipe for this amazing sandwich using the Keto Pizza Dough Mix and here's the recipe! We're looking forward to what other treats we can come up with using the Keto dough. You can order online at The Low Carb Connoisseur, The Low Carb Dieter's Page, and of course Life Services.

Product Discontinued
02.26.01 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Low Carb Chef's Low Carb Pizza Kit There's a new Pizza Kit on the Low Carb specialty market. Manufactured by Low Carb Chef, the newest kit contains the makings for 4 Big, Tasty Pizzas! Each kit comes boxed in a no-frills style (to keep costs down) and includes 4 sealed packets of crust/dough mix, a can of Hunts brand no-sugar Italian tomato sauce, and a full shaker of pizza spices (you'll have lots of spices left over, so plan on making some Italian dishes later!) Our group made pizzas over two weekends with this mix and had good results every time.

The addition of water, eggs and butter are all that's needed to get a great crust. Should you want a really thick crust, add a 1/2 package of yeast and allow the dough "rise time" on the pan before baking. If you're making a "sweet pizza", sweeten the crust with a bit of Splenda and perhaps a little cinnamon or cloves. We made a great Hawaiian pizza by adding diced ham and unsweetened fresh pineapple cut into chunks (don't use canned pineapple — it's far too high carb!) Sweeten a bit with Splenda if you like. Top with a mild white cheese and even some slivered blanched almonds. To make a more traditional pizza, use your favorite ingredients as usual. Remember to follow directions and pre-bake the crust for 5-10 minutes so sauces don't sink in and make it soggy. We also found sprinkling the crust with a little shredded cheese and oregano before the initial baking made for a delicious bonus!

Mixed Pizza A few tips for a great pizza — put a thin layer of shredded cheese over the sauce before adding any ingredients, then add toppings and follow with the rest of the shredded cheese. Mixing cheeses also makes for a more robust taste.

Different people wanting different toppings? Don't worry, just like with a traditional pizza, you can still make a half-n-half topped pizza. We made one side cheese and one side a "works" pizza. It came out great!

Lastly, the crust — you'll want to make sure you use a perforated pan to get a really crisp crust, too! The merchant listed below sells the micro-perforated pans in case you don't own one. And we really liked the effect we got when we sprayed the pan with butter flavored non-stick spray and then sprinkled on a thin dusting of sea salt (NOT table salt!) before placing the crust on top. The sea salt slightly dries the crust bottom and makes it crisper still with a hint of saltiness, but not too much.

Before toppings, the carb count works out to only 3 grams after fiber subtraction for each 1-slice (1/6 of the pizza) serving, so calculate accordingly. The Low Carb Chef's Low Carb Pizza Kits are available online from The Low Carb Dieter's Page.

Product Discontinued
01.13.01 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Keto Brand Macaroni & Cheese
For years at our house, it was just a "given" that anytime I worked long hours and neither my cooking or our going out to dinner were options, my husband knew he'd be reaching into the cupboard for that familiar blue box. The box was — of course — Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. It was something he could make for himself and yes, he really always loved it. I wasn't so much a fan, although every now and then — especially in Winter — it was almost a comfort food for me.

Then came low-carbing and we said our goodbyes to pasta. At least until low-carb pastas made themselves known last Summer. But they were still simply an ingredient for meal planning and not something Richard could grab out of the cupboard and make up for himself with only a few minutes' prep-time. All that changed when the folks at Keto Brand introduced their creamy new
Low Carb Macaroni and Cheese Dinners. At only 4 carbs per serving (after fiber), and in an amazingly easy-to-make mix, their new Red Box will now be the standard.

Keto Macaroni & Cheese — baked It comes packaged with a dry mix that with a little butter and cream becomes a very smooth white cheddar that blends into the macaroni and covers it in a velvety richness. Add a little fresh black pepper and it was great.

But you know us — we wanted to know more. We tried it with a few twists when our review group arrived. We asked everyone their favorite add-in when they used to make the old high-carb variety and we took it from there. We made one batch with a can of chunk tuna (and a 1/4 cup of frozen peas if you can spare the few extra carbs), as well as with browned beef and spaghetti sauce for a very filling Chili-Mac. But one of our favorites was when we placed the prepared macaroni and cheese dinner into a PAM-sprayed casserole dish and added mounds of finely shredded cheddar and jack cheeses and baked till brown and crispy. This served beautifully with a cool tossed salad. It should make a super main dish or serve it with chops or chicken as a side dish.

The Keto folks have improved their pasta (now in a traditional elbow macaroni) to taste even better, but we did note that it cooks more quickly than the package directions indicate, so check it when it's boiled for 3 minutes.

Keto Brand products are available from The Low Carb Connoisseur, The Low Carb Dieter's Page, and Life Services.

Product Discontinued
07.02.00 :: Product Recommendation & Review:

Keto Pasta Did you ever go shopping for an outfit for a special occasion and find something you liked, purchased it, and then the very next day found the perfect suit/dress/etc that had eluded you the day before? I have — and that's just how I felt when one day after writing the review for the proslim pasta (still a fine product). I received an order of a new brand of pasta. Apparently those little elves at Keto Brand have been hard at work on a Shell Pasta/Macaroni!   Receiving it on a Friday, and having a panel scheduled for the next day, I decided it would only be fair to our readers to get this one reviewed and tested right away.

So yesterday I told my group there was a change in the schedule and we had another marathon pasta-cooking session. It was actually great fun. And here's what we cooked up: Being a more sturdy shape than the noodles we reviewed the week before, we decided to go right for
Macaroni and Cheese. We did it two ways: First, I used my mother's traditional recipe (I've posted it here) with aged cheddar, heavy cream and lots of black pepper. It cooks like a casserole and I was concerned the pasta would not "hold up" like traditional macaroni. It worked like a champ and I got to have — and share — a dish I haven't had in nearly two years. Wow. Then we decided to cover the bases with those folks with little time. We took a package of the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (the white cheddar has no added sugars and no trans-fats). We tossed away the unhealthy carby macaroni that comes with it and substituted the Keto Pasta. We needed to cook it a few less minutes and used cream and water instead of milk, but it came out just great. Lastly, we tried a batch with a simple basil-pesto sauce and peppers so we could get a real taste for the pasta itself. We served it with some sliced Keto Bread toasted with garlic butter. With, or without parmessan it was a hit. We give this pasta 20 thumbs up (10 people — 2 thumbs each ).

The best news is that each package contains 4 servings, was only $3.99, and is
only 4 carbs per serving!   ( 4 Servings / 4 Carbs / 4 Bucks! ) Quite a bargain, any way you look at it!

Keto Brand products are available from The Low Carb Connoisseur, The Low Carb Dieter's Page, and Life Services.

Product Discontinued
06.29.00 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Proslim Pasta Pasta... That thing low-carbers dream they could still have... You might recall we reviewed a pasta a few months ago (See review of 3-27-2000) called Pavico. We gave it a plus for taste and nutrition, but the carb count was just too high for anything but an occasional small side dish - and even then, best left for maintenance. But now, there's a new option for us called Proslim!

They make a
tagliatelle (a wide, wavy noodle) that is well suited for traditional noodle dishes from tuna or chicken casserole, to alfredo dishes! And best of all, it comes in at 8.5 grams per serving — only 6.3 of them usable. Now these are carb counts we can live with. Made with soy protein, egg whites, and wheat grits, they look, cook, and feel almost the same as "regular" pasta — albeit a bit less "rubbery" since they are not starchy.

So, how did they taste? Well, in a word — good. Eaten plain or with butter, you'll see that they do have a slightly different taste than traditional pasta. Two people on our panel referred to it as a "nutty" taste. But when covered with sauces — we tried it with cream sauce, lowered carb spaghetti sauce, alfredo, and garlic butter sauce — it tasted pretty much like any noodle. In other words, almost no taste of its own — it takes on the taste of the sauce. My husband put it best when he said "pasta is a great sauce delivery system!"

It comes in two pre-measured serving packets per box and is available from
The Low Carb Connoisseur, Netrition, and The Low Carb Dieter's Page.

04.25.00 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Low Carbolicious Pizza
Hey ... remember
Pizza? I mean real Pizza? The kind with a crisp or doughy crust that gives a buttery goodness to your favorite toppings! Thought that was gone forever on a low-carb diet? Quite honestly, I thought I'd never have it again. At about 30 carb grams PER SINGLE SLICE, regular pizza is just not something we can ever hope to "work in" to our daily diets!

Well, the talented folks at
Low Carbolicious have changed all that. A group of five of us low-carbers got together last night to take their Pizza Kit out for a spin. Everyone's reaction? Wow! This was really good pizza, folks. I know it's been a year and a half since I've had pizza with crust, but this was the best tasting pizza! I really enjoyed it! And I wasn't alone. We got 4 "loved it"s and 1 "liked it."

It was surprisingly easy to make (we did two pizzas on two round pans with the holes in the bottom to make 'em crispy.) The crust is easy-to-make with only the addition of melted butter and water, and the sauce tastes like a trip to Italy — no sugar included! We made one with cheese and beef only, and one piled high with the works. The works pizza took a few extra minutes, but both came out superb. We give this high recommendation. We cut each pizza into 5 slices and they work out to approx 6.5 carbs per very filling slice.

You can order online at The Low Carb Connoisseur.

Product Discontinued
03.27.00 :: Product Recommendation & Review:
Pavico Pasta Hungry for "real" pasta? Well, there's good news and bad news. Pavico Pasta makes a really tasty pasta product from Soy Protein Isolate resulting in a great selection of linguine, fettuccine, angel hair and more that you can't tell from the pasta you've had all your life. Is there a catch? Sure. While it's much lower in carbs (and made of the healthier carbs) than ordinary pasta, the bad news is that if you're doing Atkins (or anything ketogenic) it is not for you while you're in induction. But afterwards, here's where I see a good "fit" in the various diets:

For a "Somersizing" (Suzanne Somers) Diet, a Sugar Busters Diet, or a CAD diet, it can be worked into a regular routine to give you a healthy pasta meal like you're used to.

For those on Ketogenic diets, it must be looked at as an occasional treat and a "side dish" rather than the whole meal. For instance; their packages come with little individual "swirls" of pasta that make a fine size side dish serving to accompany a meal where meat is the main dish. Their recommended serving size adds up to 26 grams of carbs. Too much for most of us, but a small swirl (about a 1/2 cup serving cooked) works out to about 8-9 grams — manageable for most of us.

We wish they could work harder to further reduce the carbs — even if only in one version of their pasta. They'd sell through the roof. I have been notified of another company that will be introducing a very low-carb version later this year, but I will keep you posted. To sum up, for Atkins-ers, this will likely be best as a treat once you're on maintenance. For others, if your diet plan will allow it, the taste is great and we do recommend it. Remember, the carbs it does have are low-insulin-impact carbs, unlike pure wheat flour pasta. Can't find it locally or want to read more? Go to Pavico's site.

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