Being a strict vegetarian can be a huge pain sometimes! Especially when I learned about a little thing called Rennet that is added to cheeses. And let me tell you... cheese is like something I could live off of! So I've been altering recipes and looking for alternatives, and when I found this mix for Alfredo sauce by Simply Organic - a brand that I utilize quite often - I knew that I had to give it a whirl!
One of the main factors that lead me to purchase this, is that it really doesn't have any types of processed ingredients or preservatives - which is great! (The package lists the following ingredients: Organic Non-fat Dry Milk, Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Potato Starch, Sea Salt, Organic Natural Butter Flavor (Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Natural Butter Flavor, Natural Butter Flavor), Organic Garlic, Silicon Dioxide, Organic White Pepper, Organic Nutmeg.) This product is not vegan; however, as it does contain milk.
Note: Curious as to what Maltodextrin and Silicon Dioxide are, I checked it out online:
Maltodextrin: Per Wikipedia; is a polysaccharide that used as a food additive. It is produced from starch by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a white hygroscopic spraydried powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed rapidly as glucose, and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless. It is commonly used for the production of sodas and candy. It can also be found as an ingredient in a variety of other processed foods.
Silicon Dioxide: The chemical compound silicon dioxide, per Wikipedia, is an oxide of silicon. It has been known for its hardness since ancient times. Silica is most commonly found in nature as sand or quartz (HUH?!) as well as in the cell walls of diatoms. Silica is manufactured in several forms including fused quartz, crystal, fumed silica, colloidal silica, silica gel, and aerogel. Silica is used primarily in the production of glass for windows, drinking glasses, beverage bottles, and many other uses. The major of the optical fibers for telecommunications are also made from silica. It is a primary raw material for many whiteware ceramics such as earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, as well as industrial Portland cement. (OK, Starting to get freaked out here! What am I eating?!) Silica is a common food additive in the production of foods, where it is used primarily as a flow agent in powdered foods, or to absorb water in hygroscopic applications. It is the primary component of diatomaceous eart which has many uses ranging from filtration to insect control. It is also the primary component of rice husk ash, which is used, for example, in filtration and cement manufacturing.
OK, now I need to know... is Silicon Dioxide SAFE for human consumption?! Here's what I found per Buzzle.com Silicon is an indispensable part of the food that we eat daily. It is observed that silicon plays a significant role in the development of the bones, so it becomes necessary to include silicon foods in our diet. In order to maintain healthy strong bones and joints, silicon dioxide in foods is very much essential. (OK! I feel WAY better!) Deficiency of silicon can cause osteoarthritis and arthritis. Another important health benefit of silicon is that it minimizes aluminum effects on the body, thereby preventing Alzheimer's disease.
Moving on... I bought this to try while Boyfriend wasn't home, because he isn't a fan of white sauces (yep, no clue what is wrong with him! hee hee) however; as he likes to do, his plans changed and so he was home for dinner and a willing test subject. So I cooked up some organic penne pasta, sauteed organic broccoli, and added the 1/2 cup of organic milk and 1-1/2 tbsp of organic butter as the recipe called for. It also called for 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Unfortunately, I am not able to purchase an organic version at my local grocery store, so this was the sole ingredient in my entire meal that was not organic.
Once everything was cooked and ready, I tossed the penne pasta with the sauce and topped it with the sauteed broccoli (I sauteed it in organic olive oil with Simply Organic dried Basil, and pepper, and minced organic garlic) and served alongside organic wheat bread to dip in olive oil and spices. To my great surprise, my dear Boyfriend loved it!
The sauce came out the perfect consistency as well, not too runny and not too thick, however it didn't hold up when reheated the next day. It tasted wonderful as well! If you enjoy alfredo sauces then you have probably had your fair share of not-so-yummy versions (aka Ragu in a jar, anyone?) but this one tastes lovely, and authentic! And, it's gluten free! So if you need to watch your gluten intake, toss with some gluten free pasta and Voila!
The other plus, is that this recipe really isn't all that unhealthy for you - unlike most alfredo sauces that use creams in them. The mix itself only adds 35 calories, 310mg sodium, 7g carbs, 2g sugar, and 2g protein per serving (4 servings per container). Unfortunately, the fat and calories you will get from this meal will be the milk and parmesan cheese that you use. I assume you can use skim milk and reduced fat parmesan if you are watching your caloric intake; however since I did not use those items (I used 1% milk, and Kraft Grated Parmesan Romano Cheese) I cannot verify if they work well or not.
Last Thoughts: If you are looking for a healthy alternative to your favorite alfredo dishes, this one gets Two-Thumbs-Up!
Until Next Time,