PaleOMG Buffalo Chicken Pasta “Simplified and Modified”

I really appreciate paleo cooking and baking.  I do it ALOT.  When you eat clean, you tend to lean toward paleo type dishes just because your trying to stick to as many “real” foods as possible.  I did the strict paleo thing for years, but now I am a flexible eater and allow myself to have oats and dairy in moderation.  My problem sometimes with paleo dishes and baking, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, is that they can be severely lopsided when it comes to carbs, fats and protein.  For my personal goals and my personal diet, I need to keep my fat intake in check.  I allow myself about 61 grams of fat per day, give or take a few grams.  I don’t do it intentionally, but my lunches and dinners tend to be very low in the fat category.  Unless I’ve planned to use a lot of avocado, cheese, oils, or fattier cuts of meat, my cooking simply ends up low fat.  Believe me, I LOVE fats, I just prefer them in snack foods I guess.  Nut butters go good on EVERYTHING…rice cakes, apples, even on top of a chocolate quest bar 🙂  One of my favorite snacks of all time is carrot sticks and sunbutter.  Try it!

I have plenty of paleo cookbooks and follow quite a few blogs on paleo baking and cooking.  One of my favorite Paleo chicks is Julie Bauer of PaleOMG fame.  She follows a paleo diet, but if you check out her social media account, you’ll see that even she ventures outside of the paleo world from time to time.  Two of her latest recipes caught my eye because of the buffalo wing sauce flavor.  My husband and I love wings of all flavors, but you can’t beat that original buffalo flavor.  I always have spaghetti squash on hand, and the one I bought from Trader Joe’s the other day produced so many “noodles” that I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try a new recipe.  So I found the PaleOMG recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pasta and thought I’d give it a try.  The problem, as I state above, is that it calls for 2/3 cup of paleo mayonnaise – either homemade or store bought.  Tessamae’s is a very popular brand for dressing, sauces and mayo amongst paleo peeps, just FYI.  Her version of the recipe calls for 2/3 cup of avocado oil to make a homemade mayonnaise plus one whole egg which is the equivalent of something like 150+ grams of fat.  Here lies my problem.  Obviously, the fat content is divided among each serving, but still.  That amount of fat from one sole meal ingredient is a little excessive for my particular needs.

So what to do?  Find a suitable substitution!  When I follow recipes, I usually modify them to suit my liking anyways, so this really was no different.  I swapped out the mayonnaise for low fat greek yogurt.  The point of the mayo in this dish is to provide a creamy texture to the sauce when mixed with the buffalo wing sauce.  Greek yogurt has that similar creamy texture but with an overall different flavor but it absolutely works as a substitute – you just make a few additions that you will read about below.

Cooking for me is all about being creative and open minded.  If I can swap ingredients and still maintain the integrity and flavor of a dish, then I am all for that!  Deriving the same or very similar flavors and textures using alternative ingredients that fall in line with your personal goals of nutrition is the whole point of flexible eating.  When you want to splurge on fat, go for it.  And if you want to skimp, then by all means do so.  There may be a time when I feel like using this recipe again and making it as she wrote it.  But for now, a few simple substitutions to make this recipe slightly easier and low fat tastes just as delicious.

For those on a flexible eating program, the calories and macros for one

serving (not including toppings) are approximately:

251 Calories – 13C / 5F / 35P

Buffalo Pasta

The Orange Fit Eats Version of Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

1 large Spaghetti Squash Baked and Shredded (900 g)

16 oz. Pulled Rotisserie Chicken Breast

4 Minced Garlic Cloves

1/2 (150 g) Finely Chopped Yellow Onion

3 oz. Finely Chopped Carrot

3 oz. Finely chopped Celery

1/2 (113g) Cup Hot Sauce of Choice (Tessamae’s, Franks, etc.)

2/3 (150g) Cup Low Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

1 tsp. Squeezed Lemon Juice

1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

1/8 tsp. Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Optional: 1-2 Tbsp. Yogurt Based Blue Cheese Dressing

Additional Toppings:  Chopped Green Onion, Chopped Avocado, Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

Spaghetti Squash:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray of choice.  Cut in half lengthwise a large spaghetti squash and place the squash cut side down on the cookie sheet.  Depending on the size of your squash, cook for approximately 30-40 minutes.  Check spaghetti squash after 30 minutes and test the insides of the squash with a fork to see how easily the threads start to come out.  If they come out easily after 30 minutes, remove squash from the oven and let cool a bit before shredding your squash.  If squash is not quite done after 30 minutes, cook in additional 5 minute increments, checking for doneness. Be careful not to overcook your squash as you need the “noodles” to hold up in the pasta dish.

Sauce:  In a small mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, fresh squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic powder.  Whisk together until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mixture will not be as thick as mayonnaise but that is ok.  Add the hot sauce and again whisk to combine until smooth.  Optional:  If you feel like your sauce is too tangy, you can add 1-2 Tbsp. of a yogurt based blue cheese dressing (I.e. Bolthouse Dressing Brand).  Set aside.

Chicken:  Pull apart the breast meat only (no skin) of one rotisserie chicken (approximately 16 oz.) and place in a mixing bowl.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Spray a large sauté pan liberally with non-stick olive oil spray and brown the chicken slightly.  Remove from the pan and place in a bowl.

Vegetables:  In the same pan, coat again with non-stick olive oil spray and sauté the garlic, onion, carrots and celery over medium heat.  Cook until vegetables are soft.  Remove vegetables from pan and add to the browned chicken bowl.

Assembling the Pasta:  In your large sauté pan, place the spaghetti squash threads in the bottom, season with additional salt and pepper and then add the sauce.  Combine thoroughly over medium heat until the pasta and sauce are warmed through.  Add the chicken and vegetables to the pasta and mix throughout.  Continue to warm the pasta over medium heat, but be sure to stir continuously so the pasta doesn’t burn or stick.

Serve pasta in dishes topped with sliced green onion, additional red pepper flakes for added heat or even avocado for extra creaminess!

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