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Pasta that hits my soft spots

Sometimes people offer to send me free products so I will review them on the blog. Usually I turn them down because I have integrity and ethics and morals and not because I have no counter space for a machine that carbonates home-made sodas, no of course not. I don’t want to be a sell-out, and if I was going to sell out it would be for a lot more than a free yoga book. I prefer my kickbacks to have more kick than that. I have no problem recommending products that I have found on my own because people ask me what scale I use and what exercise DVDs I watch anyway. But it’s hard to stay objective if someone has given you something for free because suddenly you feel like you owe them something.

But sometimes people offer me free pasta, me, the PastaQueen, the major marshal of the macaroni military. When I got the e-mail from Fiber Gourmet offering me samples of their new light pasta it was like someone had just sacrificed a goat on a Greek temple built in my name. How could I say no?

After visiting their website and reading some of their blog, I got the impression that they are a small company. I myself work at a small company and have a soft spot in my heart for fellow entrepreneurs. You get a lot of freedom when you don’t work for “the man” (even though I actually do work for a man), but it’s a lot of hard work too. You earn every last cent, just like you’ve got to earn every damn pound you lose. I sort of imagined Ari (the VP who e-mailed me) hunched over a noodle-making machine in his basement in the middle of the night while his wife shuffled to the top of the stairs in her pink bunny slippers and yelled, “Come to bed already!” But Ari would just keep cranking out the noodles and yell back, “No, I must make one last batch for the bloggers!” (Note: I have no idea if Ari has a wife or even a basement. Sometimes I just like to make up interesting back stories for people I’ve never met.) And then I read their blog entry about trying to pick a title for their company and how it was the “single most important aspect of your brand” and felt unspeakable kinship since my book title is still not finalized.

Fiber Gourmet was kind enough to send me three bags of pasta, one of each flavor which are Classic Fettuccine, Tomato Fettuccine, and Spinach Fettuccine. They come in resealable plastic bags like this (blogger not included):

Me, compromise my ethics? Of course not!

When I went to open the bag, I couldn’t find a notch to rip it open like I do on my shredded cheese bags. I thought, “Aha! I have found something negative to say! Now I won’t sound like a total shill!” But then I realized I’m a dumb ass and I could just grab both sides of the plastic bag and pull it apart pretty easily without the need for any scissors.

The pasta comes in circular wads, though they probably have a fancier, more marketable term for them, like “rosettes” or “wad-ettes” or something. I weighed them and they are each a little less than an ounce. There were about 12 in each bag which jives with the label’s information that there are five 2oz servings. However, it does make it a little more difficult to figure out how many calories and carbs you are eating in your serving, so maybe it would be better if they had ten wads that were exactly 1 oz each. Or maybe I am being anal.

I don’t know if they did this on purpose or if it was an accident, but the wads are rather brilliant. The problem I’ve always had when I make spaghetti is that I don’t know how big it is going to look on my plate when it’s cooked. I don’t line up all the noodles in straight lines before I eat them. With Fiber Gourmet I can tell exactly how big my serving is, which greatly reduces my chance of overeating. I am prone to finish what’s on my plate, but if I only cook what I want to eat, I can’t pig out. Okay, I used to eat Ramen noodles raw, but I don’t do that with pasta anymore.

When I first moved out onto my own, I experienced some trial and error when I had to figure out how much food to cook for dinner. When I lived with my mother and brother I always cooked enough for everyone because it was polite. If I was going to sauté a chicken breast, it wasn’t that much more work to throw two more on the skillet. When I first cooked spaghetti just for myself, I used a mostly empty box I’d grabbed from our pantry. I just dumped the rest of the box into the boiling water figuring it would make about one serving.

Suddenly I was trapped in a live reenactment of Strega Nona. There was pasta practically flowing out the door. I ended up eating all of it over the course of four meals, when I’d only thought it would make a serving or two. I’m sure packaging straight noodles is a more efficient use of space, making them easier to stack and transport and thus saves money. However, I’m not a truck driver or a loading dock hand. I am someone trying to manage my weight, and I much prefer the wads of pasta to the long noodles I get in a box from the grocery.

I cooked one wad of each flavor and I honestly couldn’t taste much of a difference between the flavors. Maybe this was because I cooked them all together and I ended up with a tomato/spinach/classic blend. But I wanted to review the pasta already and not leave Ari hunched over his noodle machine, so I thought it best to just cook them all at once. Then I poured some Prego on them and some Parmesan cheese and it was very good. It kept me full for the rest of the evening too. The nutritional information is comparable to other whole-wheat pastas and actually has less calories per serving. I was also glad they were not poisoned as part of an elaborate scheme by a disgruntled fat acceptance fanatic who might set up a dummy corporation and create their own pasta line just to kill me. I’ve really got to stop making up these back stories.

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23 Comments

LadyT • June 12, 2007 at 9:52 am

woo hoo! first comment!!!!!

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LadyT • June 12, 2007 at 9:55 am

ok, now that i have been immature, do they sell this stuff in most grocery stores? i find that i have no idea how much pasta is in a serving..and i am a bit new to the weight loss thing (only been in the game “for real” for about a month)and due to cycles of brokeness, have no money for a little food scale…so this woudl be ideal for me…..let me know.

love your blog…you have inspired me greatly….i have been reading your archives for days now…..*wink* i’ve finally made it to August 2006…hope to finish up today so i can get some work done! ha!!!

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coraspartan • June 12, 2007 at 10:08 am

You aren’t the only blogger to receive a sample of this–The Incredible Shrinking Mom also received a sample and did a review of it. She said it was quite tasty. One thing I discovered through the comments on her post is that this pasta is quite expensive–about $5 a pound. So although I was eager to try it, I probably won’t–that just seems like a ridiculous price for pasta. I will probably stick with the Healthy Harvest whole wheat rotini, which is around $1.50 a lb.–much more reasonable.

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Kalyn • June 12, 2007 at 10:23 am

Waaah. They didn’t offer me some to try. I’ve seen this on a few other blogs, and the reviews have all been good. I’m a huge fan of Dreamfields pasta, but I’d try this for sure if I saw it in the store. Wonder if it will make it to Utah?

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PastaQueen • June 12, 2007 at 10:35 am

LadyT – I get the impression they are a new company, so I don’t know what their distribution is like. You can order it online at their site though or just e-mail them and ask if they have a distributor in your area.

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Lora • June 12, 2007 at 11:01 am

WoW! I just stumbled accros your blog and the progress pics are amazing! You have come so far -what an inspiration!

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Têtue • June 12, 2007 at 11:04 am

You have to admit that it’s a pretty brilliant word of mouth marketing campaign they’ve got going. No point in wasting money on TV or radio ads that will only reach 1% of their target audience, and even then 50% of them will ignore the ad. They’re going directly to the fat masses. Good for them!

I don’t think you’re a sell out. If somebody asks you to review a product and it sucks, then say it sucks. They asked for your opinion so it’s their fault if their product isn’t up to snuff. ;)

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BB • June 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

I bought this great little rectangular kitchen gadget that measures spaghetti servings,it works by allowing the noodles to pass through the hole you select. There are openings for servings between 1 and 4 people. I just store it right in the box with the spaghetti. No scale required, very handy!

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Laura • June 12, 2007 at 11:40 am

Nice review, PQ. I appreciate you not being a sell out and having product reviews every other post. I love the backstory on why you agreed to do this product, and your Ari & Wife story is too funny. Are you writing a book of fiction too? Just wondering if you have a whole litter of characters in your head, or scribbled on grocery bags and napkins, you know, like JK Rowling did before she wrote Harry Potter…. ;-)

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spacedcowgirl • June 12, 2007 at 12:08 pm

By the way, another great picture of you… those size “SSSSSSSSSSS” t-shirts fit you perfectly. :) You look awesome.

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Phebess • June 12, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Just wanted to send you big big congrats! You are doing an amazing job, and I know how much work goes into losing weight. (I’ve just lost 35 – 50 more to go.)

So big hugs, sweetie, and you look great!!!!!!!!!

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Phebess • June 12, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Just wanted to send you big big congrats! You are doing an amazing job, and I know how much work goes into losing weight. (I’ve just lost 35 – 50 more to go.)

So big hugs, sweetie, and you look great!!!!!!!!!

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Mark • June 12, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Here in Japan a popular brand of spaghetti is sold wrapped into 100 gram bundles, about right for a main dish serving (the FDA/USDA says 70 grams is a “serving” though).

But the best thing is to have an electronic gram scale and weight it.

You really need to make your own tomato sauce. You’ll never go back if you do. Olive oil, garlic, fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper. No other herbs and spices, unless you’re trying to mask canned tomato flavor, in which case cayenne, marjoram, and/or vinegar will help. Use an immersion blender to speed things up. It refrigerates and freezes well.

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Janice Bridge • June 12, 2007 at 6:45 pm

How absolutely appropriate. . .

Recommended by Pasta Queen!

or

Jennette spaghetti says “Eat FiberGourmet!”

Works for me

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Heather • June 12, 2007 at 7:59 pm

HA! I make up back stories about people, too.

I’ve had some friend think it’s quite odd when I pass someone in another car and start on about their “life.”

Glad to hear I’m not the only one who gets way too involved with their imagination.

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Phoenix • June 13, 2007 at 12:06 am

i am a whore for spinach fettunchini (i think i spelled that wrong). i must find this brand now and try it.

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RG • June 13, 2007 at 5:26 am

My rule of thumb for spaghetti has been that a “fistful” is a one-person serving. Since fists vary in proportion to height, this sounds wise. By fistful I mean to wrap your fingers around it and the thumb should overlap with fingers. Not as precise as weighing but much less likely to end up in strega nona

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CherryDolphin • June 13, 2007 at 10:42 am

Thanks for the review! It would be wonderful to have preportioned pasta! I always worry that I am cooking too much, so I end up not having it that much.

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almost vegetarian • June 13, 2007 at 11:38 am

Your post caught my eye because I’ve been playing with making my own pasta these days (horribly easy but, oh, what a mess – flour everywhere) and kept my eye straight through to the end because it was hysterical!

Delightful read; thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cheers!

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Marla • June 13, 2007 at 7:09 pm

I liked the dis of the Smart Ones dessert on their blog – I have been whining for years about how “low calorie” products achieve the numbers by simply doubling the amount of water in the serving (for example Ken’s Steakhouse salad dressings).

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Jill • June 14, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Long-time reader, first-time poster, here. Thanks for a great site!

Look in the “gourmet” pasta section of your local grocery store. Mine has several brands that come in the little wads/bundles that are preportioned. It’s a great idea for pasta lovers!

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Buddyred • June 27, 2008 at 11:41 am

How much spagheti is in one serving, i need to know for school. email me at msnj94@yahoo.com, thanks.

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JudiSalati • July 14, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Ok, I know this is from 2yrs ago but reading this article, although I thought it was cleverly written and funny…but come on…wads? Those are “tagliatelle”! You can probably call them fettuccine but I’d bet on tagliatelle.

Noodles? Please, how Americano can you get???? Pasta, maccheroni, but please, never noodles!

You cooked all 3 flavors together and then wonder why they all tasted alike? LOLOLOL, well, I have to say, I’ve never tasted much of a difference in those flavored pasta, spinach, carrot, tomato either.

Ok, I just had to get that off my chest! Otherwise, I like the resealable bag idea…oh, and by the way, I now live in Italy, but even when in America, like most Italians, we weigh our pasta before dumping in the water. Between 70 to 80 grams of pasta per person is the norm over here. It’s we Italian Americans that tend to give each person one chilo or a whole pound! LOLOL! But since here in Italy, we eat it every dam day, lol, I stick to the 70 or 80 gram per person rule….helps weight control…I do have a cheap kitchen scale that works just fine. I calibrate it, so to speak, every so often by weighing a prepackaged of pasta or something of which I am sure of the weight…cheap as can be, but still works great, plus we’ve kept our weight down. Takes only a few more seconds to do, and I keep the scale in the cupboard with the pasta…so if I grab one, I gotta grab the other!

Ok, thanks! Great writing, by the way!

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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