Do almonds have teats? Of course, I know they don’t….But I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the thought of it when I first became aware of almond milk at my local grocery store. The teeny little udders they must possess. The extremely fine tuned manual dexterity it must take to milk them. Nevertheless, I wanted to try it. I love almonds. Pretty much any way they come. Sliced, slivered, smoked, chopped, blanched, whole, candied, or chocolate covered. By themselves, in other dishes, ground up and used as breading, ground up and used to make low carb pancakes. Yada, yada, yada….
And I love milk. It just doesn’t love me back–sends my stomach into fits. I can eat cheese with reckless abandon. Butter isn’t a problem either (except for the fat deposits it leaves behind on my hips). Sour cream is fine, although I prefer Greek yogurt, which is also not problematic. But plain milk, or ice cream is another story entirely. Which had been a problem when I wanted a big bowl of cereal. I started using soy milk on my cereal a few years ago, but don’t care for it as a beverage (except for Silk Nog, which will no doubt have it’s own space on this blog in the next few months). When I saw the almond milk, the second thing I thought about (the first being whether or not almonds had teats) was what great things I could make with it. What a grand substitution it would make in cakes, for example, or sweet potato souffle….The almond-y flavor further enhancing the vanilla, bourbon, and other flavors in my fall baking. So I gave it a shot, and I love it. I have been using it now for over a year, not only in my cereal, but in baking, cooking, and yes, as a beverage. My son and his friends love the vanilla flavored one. I have used it in bread pudding, custards, and cupcakes. It adds great almond flavor to whatever it is used in and I can feel good about using it.
It was almond milk that really got me looking harder at more healthy substitutions. Check out my recipe for Meat Loaf, from the 10/03/2011 post on this blog (Meatloaf, Memories, and Grandma). I also started eating alternate burger types when eating out, much to the horror of the men in my family (I think in Texas it is a sin to eat veggie burgers). My older son, Reagan, blames this on the recent purchase of a VW Beetle convertible….He says it’s a hippy car, and it’s making me a liberal, a vegetarian, all sorts of wild accusations. Kids these days. We’ll discuss the Beetle Aura in another episode.
The truth is that I LOVE meat. I am quite capable of eating meat until the meat sweats set in. And granted, if I am jonesing for a hamburger, then a garden burger or black bean patty will not sate me, and I will order beef. But, if I am not suffering some lunatic craving for a big hunk of meat, I love a good rice and mushroom or black bean patty on whole wheat. It tastes great, and I don’t feel terrible after eating it.
One thing I had never tried until today was spaghetti squash. I have wanted to try it for years, and even bought a few. But they have gone bad in my fridge before I worked up the courage to give it a go. Today, with a largely quiet house, compliments of hunting season, I had the time and luxury to take it on. Now, I love pasta. And Pasta Carbonara has often been an easy go-to dish when provisions were low, and I didn’t have time to hit the store. So I decided to do a rif on that. I cut a small squash into halves, seeded it, and placed the chunks in a large ceramic casserole with a few cups of water. Covered and microwaved it for 20 minutes. While it was cooking, I sautéed 4 oz of lean thin ham in a tablespoon of olive oil, until it started to crisp, and then added a cup of frozen peas, and half a chopped sweet onion. Drained and shredded the squash, tossed it all together, sprinkled some fresh grated parmesan over the top and voila! How easy was that? It was so delicious, I cannot believe it took me this long to try it. The sweet buttery flavor of the squash went perfectly with the peas and ham. Here is a pic….
I tried to trick my kids into trying it, but the way they eat their pasta is the subject of a whole separate post.
Anyway, if you love pasta, but hate the carbs, give spaghetti squash a try, in whatever way you would normally eat the pasta. It’s so simple, and so good for you, but that is really a sidebar to the fact that it is very yummy!