Shown here is the winner of an innovation award at the FreeFrom Food Awards: Dell’Ugo’s Fresh Chickpea Fusili. It’s certainly a novel idea – gluten-free pasta made from chickpeas, water and, er… that’s it! So simple. This means it is much lower in carbs than wheat-based pasta (25% vs 70% - though the latter is for the pasta before it is cooked) and it doesn’t contain egg either. Because it is fresh, cooking time is only 4 minutes.
Interestingly, it doesn’t taste of chickpeas, but the pasta is slightly denser than usual and my trial version had a slightly spotted appearance after cooking. It’s pictured here in a fresh tomato sauce (made from some of the remaining tomatoes in the greenhouse, hence the sauce is a bit pip-tastic). It made a good meal and I can recommend it if you’re looking either for a lower-carb gluten-free option or one with higher fibre (fibre content is 6% vs 3% for wheat-based and 1.5% for corn/rice based).
Also worth investigating is stevia (pronounced steve-ia) powder. Stevia plants grow in South America and can now be bought over here as a garden annual. Stevia can be used as a natural sugar substitute; its sweetness derives from molecules called glycosides (sugar groups attached to a non-sugar molecule). This means that although the molecule tastes sweet, the body’s digestive processes doesn’t recognize the ‘sugar’ part and it remains undigested until the colon. There isn’t really an impact on blood glucose levels, so the number of calories is low (read more here). There’s been a flurry of interest in stevia lately, with top brands like Coca Cola and Heinz introducing products sweetened with this Andean leaf.
Stevia powders can taste bitter – this version by Sweetly Stevia doesn’t and it is also extracted in a really easy-to-understand way: the dried stevia leaves are steeped in water, then the sweet part is extracted and purified. It’s vegan certified and comes in an easy-to-sprinkle powder. It's possible to make Stevia version of favourites like lemon drizzle cake (See the recipe here).
Finally, if you’ve not yet come across Eat Natural’s Toasted Muesli with Buckwheat then it is totally recommended – and my kids love it too. It’s not as cheap as some mainstream breakfast cereals, but it is rammed full of nutrients thanks to the mixed seeds, buckwheat and sultanas – so no longer can people say that there would be more food value in the cardboard packaging…