So I was doing some foodie research and on a local market’s Facebook page (Remark in Hyde Park, London, ON) was this NuPasta featured on a post. Someone was given a sample to try and said she liked it. It was gluten-free AND low-calorie, high fiber? And it tasted good. I have loved functional foods and food inventions since I was in my classes at the University of Guelph. So, being the knock-on-door, take initiative type – I emailed the company.
They were happy to provide me a sample as they were just starting to come on the market to consumers. Before I received them, I started researching the main ingredient (konjac flour). It came from a natural source (made from a root of the konjac root) and then blended with soy flour. Konjac flour has a soluble dietary fibre called glucomannam. So for anyone new to food science – soluble fibre will expand with water (think oatmeal not lettuce). This is how NuPasta is 95% water and 5% fiber and hardly any calories per serving compared to pasta (1/10th says the card). And hence it is not made from the usual gluten-free starchy (re: carbs/calories) flours (potato, rice or tapioca), and finally we have a gluten-free product (no certification yet) that is NOT high in calories and carbohydrates.
I received the packages in the mail. Yes, pasta in the mail. It is shelf stable until opened!
Then I read the information it came with. This sounded so easy a baby could cook with it.
Babies usually need to be in the oven for 9 months, and they don’t rent them for foodie experiments so call in my oldest “baby” who is 11 years old.
So we were on a mission…. see if this kid (who does have food skills because she has a parent teaching her at home) could make this without really cooking.
(Warning: Parent Trick for Picky Eaters)
But I tricked her… even though she is not usually a picky eater (the younger one takes the cake on that one!), it was getting her involved in cooking that would even distract her from asking “what is it made with”.
She picked spaghetti over the fettuccine and angel hair options we were given.
“Step 1. Drain the water in the pack, rinse NuPasta under cold water for a short while, drain excess water and NuPasta is ready to use.”
This was super easy except getting into the packaging. We did have to use a knife to cut the clear film top as the edges didn’t help to pull it off. Other than that, super easy.
“Step 2. Prepare the topping and sauce.”
Emily loves butter and grated cheese on her pasta, myself – tomato sauce for this saucy Italian-Canadian. So we decided with not much time before a cheap movie theatre night, we were going to use the microwave method and KISS with NuPasta.
“Step 3. Mix topping, sauce, and NuPasta and heat with a skillet or by microwave (use proper microwave container).”
“Don’t over-cook or NuPasta can become chewy; its nutrition value will remain unchanged.”
So we tested it out and with heavy bowls and no bulky additions to it. We gave it 2 spins of 35 seconds and it was warm enough to eat right away. This obviously depends on your taste, microwave, bowls and other added ingredients. It was not chewy at all for us.
“If you wish to serve NuPasta cold, pre-chill the pack for 2 hours then do the drain and rinse. You can cut it into shorter strands and add to salads or other cold dishes.”
We didn’t do this, put think of the possibilities if this comes in rotini or penne? A great summer pasta salad recipe without the cooking on a super hot day before a picnic – NuPasta would definitely be considered convenient!
“Since NuPasta is sodium-free and sugar-free, add seasonings to your own liking.”
This is a huge advantage for anyone trying to have convenience foods that are not preserved with lots of salt/sodium. That would be anyone following a DASH diet for cardiovascular diseases. As well, sugar-free means that this would be a great product for perhaps patients trying to control blood sugars (diabetes, hypo/hyperglycemia, etc).
But the disadvantage of this is about to be revealed….
Emily wanted her butter and freshly, grated cheese on top. She threw some cheese on mine too. (So yes now we had sodium added in, so be careful what toppings and sauces you choose. Read food labels!).
So here is her honest to goodness reaction…..
She said it tasted bland. I was so disappointed. So I dug into mine. I had an idea after I had my first taste.
I said to her to try mine even though I knew she “didn’t prefer tomato sauce”.
Low and behold….. “that’s so much better” she said. We agreed it was a great product with additional flavours and toppings. And ta dah, I even got her to eat tomato sauce which she usually doesn’t. I even said a thai-based sauce would be great with NuPasta. Think stir fry frenzies for gluten free noodle lovers. (It does have that kind of consistency if you’ve cooked with those type of noodles that come soaked as well.)
So the verdict is:
Yes, I would recommend this product. It is very kid friendly too. My guinea pig agrees too. Cheers to that (forks will have to do.)
I would like to do my own research more carefully on glucomannam for the science geek that I am. I know that some soluble fibres in products (ex: inulin) can cause GI upset in some people if taken in high quantities. The little bit of searching I did show that if taken as just as a supplement, lots of water is required with it (due to its high water absorption ability). Since it is cooked and soaked/stored in water, I can’t see NuPasta having this safety issue at all.
Link here to news article & study reference: http://mobile.foodnavigator.com/Science/Mixing-two-well-known-ingredients-could-be-key-to-new-weight-loss-foods-Study
Plus consumers are really different tastes.
As a Professional Home Economist that loves experimenting in the kitchen, I would encourage you to try it if you are looking for a pasta alternative for whatever reason.
Highlights of this product:
- Gluten-free AND low-calorie (hard to see that together on the food market shelves right now)
- Super easy to prepare
- Kid friendly
- No cooking necessary
- Convenient – pre-cooked AND shelf-stable (ready to use)
- Sodium/salt free
- No added sugars
- Very versatile – flavours, sauces, extra ingredients can be added; hot/cold options
So one last thing to touch on.
It is something that I find I have a major issue with, with many blogs out there with posts about new product testing:
This is absolutely a product review. By ME. I was not asked by the company to do so. I will never sell out my true self. My opinion of a product will never be anything but super honest. If I ever try a product I do not like and asked to write about it – I’d prefer to not write at all. My mom taught me best – If you do not have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So with that in mind, this and ALL reviews (ever) will be my opinions alone and will never reflect anything but (unless a quote from someone else who was helping me). Companies should want the feedback (good and the not-so-good) to improve their product for their customers. A fluffed up opinion to market a product rather than reflect the honest truth will never make a product or that company successful in the end. We all have to sleep at night. I’d like to make sure I keep my little bit of space here, free for me to be me. It’s the only person I can be. )
So happy looking and cooking for new food products too.