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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Explore Cuisine, Organic Black Bean Spaghetti

I'm not gluten intolerant, but I do suffer from extreme guilt every time I cook pasta. Whether it's greased down with butter and oil or slathered in white creamy Alfredo sauce, there's no other to way to enjoy a pasta dish other than simply tossing caution to the win and promising to work out an extra 30 minutes-better make that 45-the next morning.
However, I have discovered an alternative that will allow me to enjoy the pleasures of pasta-sauce and all-from now on. OK, I didn't "discover" it; rather, samples were sent to my office and I merely needed to open the parcel. But when I did, my culinary world changed for the better.
Explore Cuisine sent me a number of flavors: Organic Red Bean Lentil, Organic Green Lentil Lasagna, Organic Chickpea Fusilli and Organic Edamame Spaghetti. However, my eye was immediately drawn to the Organic Black Bean Spaghetti.
And how could I not be drawn to it? The spaghetti was black! Instantly, my intrigue was piqued and the Millennial adventurer inside me screamed, "Try it, try it!" I know if I saw it on the shelves of my local specialty food store, I wouldn't be able to resist purchasing that first box. And now that I've tried the results, I know that I would come back for more.
First, I've never felt so guilt-free about a pasta. Well, semi-pasta. The label front and center on the box says all I need to hear to make me pick it up and "explore" (get it?): "Loaded with plant-based protein," it says in a bold black label that's hard to miss. The best part of the elegant yet catchy packaging is the cut-out that allows the consumer to see the product for themselves. I flipped over the red box and the info got even better: "35 grams of protein, 11 grams net carbs, low glycemic index, high in fiber, only beans!
That's right, this pasta is made of beans, peas, lentils and rice, providing nourishing meals that are easy, quick and colorful, boasts the messaging. Other touted qualities: Affordable food with ingredients bought direct from the farmer, produced next to the fields; Committed to fair trade and sustainable living "so everyone benefits along the way-from the field to your home." Also, 2 percent of proceeds support the Food to Thrive Foundation.
Now, to the kitchen. I was excited to prepare the mysterious black pasta, and I was relieved to realize that the preparation instructions are the same as any other box of conventional pasta. The dried spaghetti was shorter than what I'm used to, but turns out it fits easily into the pot on the stove without having to dunk the exposed ends once it softens up. Within the first minute, it thickened up and the water turned black, which I found to be kind of fun to watch. I drained, covered in butter, oil and some Parmesan cheese.
Verdict: Utterly delicious. True to its claims, it tastes like a healthier version of pasta! It tastes like pasta had a run-in with a plant and I'm reaping the benefits. The taste was lighter than traditional pasta, yet I was equally as full and satisfied by the end of my meal.
I cooked in bulk so I can pick at it throughout the week. What I loved the most is that the spaghetti did not clump together I stored it in the refrigerator! This is a problem I often have with traditional pasta. But now the problem's solved. The next day, I took a bit more of the black spaghetti-easily with no tears or clumps!-and dressed it in marinara sauce before reheating it in the microwave. Voila! It tasted just as it had the day before, when it was freshly made, and dressing it in the heavy sauce gave it a completely different taste and experience. And the best part, of course: no guilt! In fact, I felt healthy for it!
Explore Cuisine, you can count me as a fan. And if your Millennial shoppers are anything like me, they'll be fans as well. The bright colors and healthy ingredients will compel their inner adventurer to purchase their first box; and the easy preparation and, most importantly, great taste will make them a loyal customer!
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