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Oodles of Noodles! : Still Me - Allergy Free

by Melisa Priem

"My child wants macaroni and cheese everyday!" Does this sound familiar? And who can blame them? Who doesn't love to nosh on the warm comfort of noodles swimming in a tang of soothing cheese sauce? But as good mothers, we want our children to have balanced nutrition. So we try to offer a variety of foods, only to quickly realize that sometimes the only way to get our children to eat anything at all is to dish up those famous, beloved noodles from the blue box. But what if they could get nutritious variety by simply eating noodles everyday?

When we hear alternative or whole grains, we freeze. Whole grains sound so, well, healthy. And they are. Unlike wheat, many alternative grains contain substantial nutrients, making fortification unnecessary. However, "healthy" doesn't always taste good, especially to the littlest palate in the household. So you struggle with the dilemma of adding nutrition to your family's diet with the lack of knowledge on how to cook the products and seamlessly incorporate them into your family's lifestyle. Fortunately, these "healthy" grains are available in many shapes, sizes, and flavors that mimic the conventional noodle. Suddenly, providing your family with a well balanced diet that they will happily devour becomes a realistic possibility by serving a variety of these wonderful, gluten-free noodles. Although the noodle dishes are suggested with complimentary ingredients, the same nutritional benefits can be reaped by smothering the noodles with gooey, melted Velveeta cheese sauce everyday! Let's face it, to obtain nutritional benefits your child has to actually eat the food.

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup with Orgran Rice & Millet Pasta, Spirals

Millet is highly nutritious and similar to buckwheat and quinoa, is soothing and easy to digest. In fact, it is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available. Millet is rich in nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, folic acid, B17, B6, iron, potassium, and zinc. It is a warming grain that can help heat the body in cold or rainy seasons, making it a perfect option for surviving Minnesota winters or combating the common cold. So the next time you make Chicken Soup, add some of these mild-tasting noodles to the pot to not only boost nutrition, but soothe the tummy and warm the soul.

Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff over Ancient Harvest Quinoa Linguine
Quinoa has been classified by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization as a "supercrop" for its extremely high protein content (12-18%). However, this power-food also contains dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It's a great source of B vitamins (containing niacin, thiamin and B6,) zinc and copper, and also contains folic acid and Vitamin E.

Quinoa is actually one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom. Unlike wheat and rice which are low in lysine, quinoa's balanced set of essential amino acids not only helps the body absorb the protein in the quinoa, but it helps the body absorb protein in other foods consumed. The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa to be equivalent or superior to that found in milk products.
As an ingredient in pasta, quinoa's appetizing golden color and flavor provide a wonderful substitute for egg noodles. When served alongside more gourmet dishes, Ancient Harvest's Quinoa Pasta can put you at ease as your kids pick off the beef in the stroganoff, but wholeheartedly gobble up the noodles!

Wednesday: Orgran Buckwheat Rotini á la Vodka Sauce.
Buckwheat's numerous benefits and nutritional value make it ideal for the health conscious family. It is fat-free and contains rutin, a natural ingredient which studies indicate lowers cholesterol and helps reduce high blood pressure. Buckwheat is also a good source of protein as well as minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium and calcium. These minerals are important in the prevention of hypertension and anemia. The high level of magnesium (approximately 86 milligrams per cup) can contribute to improved blood flow and nutrient delivery, often resulting in lower blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health. Diets rich in magnesium also correlate to a reduction in the instance of diabetes, particularly in women.

Buckwheat has a stronger, earthy flavor that is a wonderful compliment for robust sauces. Sauces with a hearty sausage for example generally overpower any unfamiliar flavor, allowing everyone in the household to receive the nutritious benefits of this power-ingredient.

Thursday: Tinkyáda Brown Rice Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Brown rice is a well-known whole grain that has similar amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein as white rice, however it is far more nutritious. When the bran layer is removed from a grain of rice to produce white rice, rice bran oil is removed and several vitamins and minerals are lost, such as B1, B3, magnesium and iron. Brown rice retains the oil. Rice bran oil may also help lower LDL cholesterol.
Brown rice noodles have a very mild flavor and closely resmble a wheat noodle in taste and texture. Substitute brown rice noodles anywhere you would commonly use a wheat noodle. For best results, cook rice noodles to al dente as overcooked rice-based noodles tend to get a little mushy.

Friday: Heartland's Finest Elbows and Cheese (aka Macaroni and Cheese!)

Hi-Protein bean pastas taste great and contain a higher concentration of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates than conventional pastas. Heartland's Finest pastas are made from a combination of navy bean and corn flour. Like most beans, navy beans are rich in soluble fiber, which aids in eliminating cholesterol from the body. Navy beans are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron and manganese. As a high potassium, low-sodium food they may help reduce blood pressure.

The dry beans used in the products from Heartland's Finest from farmers located in Minnesota and Michigan. Similar in taste, texture and color to traditional wheat-based noodles, these bean-based pastas are a simple way to boost your health and support Minnesota farmers without resulting in skeptical faces at the dinner table.

Many of these gluten-free noodles can be found locally at Fresh & Natural Foods (four metro locations) or online at AllergyGrocer.com. Accommodating recipes can be found in "8 Degrees of Ingredients."

Melisa Priem, author of "8 Degrees of Ingredients," has made dreams come true for the food sensitive family by creating hundreds of hypoallergenic recipes that allow individuals with food sensitivities to enjoy their favorite foods with ingredients that are safe to consume. She resides in the Twin Cities with her husband and their three children. Visit her website at EightDegreesofIngredients.com.

Categories: Food & Recipes, MomShare,

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