Nobody loves pickles like Dr. Jen loves pickles, so this blog is going to take a pickle-forward recipe and rework it to make it healthier. I’ve eliminated the wheat, dairy, and sugar but kept all the flavor and crunch of the original recipe.
The first change I made was to substitute either brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta for the wheat pasta. The gluten in the wheat pasta does nasty things to our bodies; it causes the body to react with an inflammatory response and primes us for all kinds of diseases and digestive problems.
My two favorite brown rice pastas are Tinkyada and Jovial. Both have a decent texture, as long as you don’t overcook them. I have also been experimenting with quinoa pasta. Be sure to read labels. You don’t want to be eating pasta made with GMO corn, for example—it’s bad for you.
The second tweak on this recipe is eliminating the dairy. Depending on how the animal is raised and the methods used to process the dairy, it can be either a healthy food or one of the worst foods you can eat. If you’re eating milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese that is made from conventionally raised cows, you’re eating a steady stream of antibiotics and toxins. If you eat dairy, it’s much healthier to eat organic products. I’ve chosen to replace the cheese with a product called DAIYA. It’s gluten free, soy free and tastes pretty good. It does melt, although it doesn’t brown in the oven like regular cheese. It works perfectly in this recipe.
I’ve replaced the sour cream with organic Greek yogurt. If you choose to keep the sour cream, be sure it’s organic.
This recipe calls for mayonnaise. That doesn’t mean the Kraft salad dressing that most of us grew up with and is made from sugar, soybean oil and lots of chemicals. Please buy real mayonnaise that’s made with avocado oil, sunflower or olive oil. But be sure to read the label. For example, Hellman’s mayo advertises itself as an olive oil mayo, but if you read the label, it also includes soybean oil, which is a definite no-no.
Always read labels—if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it. And that goes for the pickles in this recipe! If the label has ingredients that you don’t recognize, they don’t belong in your body. The best pickles are the ones you can yourself, but if you don’t have any, the best place in the store for pickles is the cold food’s case. Those pickles are usually just a combo of cucumbers, salt, vinegar, (and garlic, if you’re lucky). Oh, just in case—we are talking DILL pickles here, not their sugary sweet cousins.
So, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
DILL PICKLE LOVERS’ PASTA SALAD
½ lb (about 3 cups) dry brown rice or quinoa pasta. Tinkyada shells work especially well in this recipe.
¾ cup dill pickles, sliced if they are small, or chunked if they are larger
2/3 c Daiya cheddar style cheese, diced
3 T finely diced yellow onion (it’s milder than white onion)
2 T fresh dill
½ c. dill pickle juice
2/3 c mayonnaise, made with avocado oil, sunflower oil, or olive oil (be sure to read the label)
1/3 c organic Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 T dill pickle juice
S & P to taste
Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package, being sure not to overcook. Run under cold water to stop cooking.
Toss the cool pasta with ½ cup of dill pickle juice and set aside for 5 minutes. Then drain and discard the pickle juice.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add all the rest of the ingredients and toss.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.