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Weird experience... Trader Joe's Lo Carb pasta (Bella Vita) [moved from L.A. board]

  • m

Has anyone tried this?

I bought some of their Bella Vita lo carb penne a few months ago (around October/November 2003) from the Pasadena location and it was really quite good. The pasta was the color of whole wheat, a light brown, and when cooked for 10 minutes had a smooth, bland, slightly chewier than normal texture, but most acceptable for the sake of keeping my blood sugars down. (I eat lo carb because it is diabetes friendly, not to lose weight)

After a couple of months, the pasta all but disappeared from TJ's store shelves. Every store I went to told me they were out of stock. I gave up hope.

Well I recently stopped in to my local TJ's to see that Bella Vita lo carb pasta had returned, and in several different shapes (spirals, rigatoni, spaghetti, angel hair!) When I took a close look at the box however, it looked different... the pasta was a much deeper brown than it had been, and the edges spiral pasta looked broken off and "gritty". "No matter," I thought, and bought 4 boxes.

So I got home and boiled up a serving of the rigatoni. The proof is in the tasting, as they say, and the tasting unfortunately had to be spit out. Whereas the earlier Oct/Nov 2003 pasta had a bland flavor, this batch had a very strong, unpleasing flavor-- I don't know what to compare it to, but it was quite foul. And although a foul tasting pasta could, in theory, be covered up by a strong garlicky sauce, its gritty, unpalatable texture cannot.

Has anyone else encountered this same experience? What happened? Usually TJ's has such high quality control standards that I'm quite shocked that this one slipped past them.

I'd be very curious to hear if any other hounds have had a similar experience.

Also, I'd love to hear your suggestions for consistently good lo-carb pasta (either for retail sale, or at restaurants)

Mr. Taster

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  1. I once bought low-carb pasta from Big Lots (fka Pic N'Save), possibly the same brand as you. And it was, one of the most disgusting things I have ever tasted.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Suze
      Silverlake Grouch

      Mrs. Grouch did the low-carb thing for a while last year; T.J.'s l.c. pasta: pretty darn vile; "Lo Carb Store" (place on Van Nuys Bl. , actual name escapes me) lo carb pasta WORSE. Most memorable experience: mixing up lo-carb baking mix with soy-milk to graciously make spouse muffins one Sunday AM and realizing: "I've smelled this before, but not in 12 years: it's the same smell as soy-based baby formula! Yechhhh!"


    2. I tried the Bella Vita pasta at Trader's last fall. I agree, it was pretty good - not De Cecco, mind you, but then I feel like I've been hit on the head with a lead pipe when I eat the real thing. When it disappeared from the shelves, I also trolled the various TJ stores in my area to see if I could find it and was told they were out of stock at all of them. At the Sepulveda/Palms store I was told they were having a quality control problem with the product.

      Sounds like the problem didn't get fixed. Or maybe they shouldn't have tried to fix it in the first place . . .

      However, I found a pasta with the exact same number of carbs / protein etc. at Whole Foods. In fact, the packaging looks very similar, same color, same lettering, except it is in a bag not a box. It's called Darielle Pasta and it only comes in the fusilli shape. It looks the same but is more grainy than what I remember the Trader's pasta to be.

      I have heard that some lo carb foods are not as low carb as they claim. I wonder if the original Bella Vita pasta was too good to be true?

      Last week in the New York Times, I read about a group of new stores opening in LA called Pure Foods that specialize in all things low carb. I checked online and found that they have opened a store in Santa Monica on Wilshire and have two more opening in Beverly Hills and Brentwood. They might be a good source to try, although the article mentioned their products are quite expensive.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Ann

        I've been to the Pure store on Canon Drive, in B.H. They have Bella Vita Pasta, but it's much pricier than at T.J.'s.

      2. I noticed the darker color, too, and asked why that was. The clerk at Trader Joe's told me they recently changed the recipe of their Bella Vita low carb pasta. Don't know why. However, the change was that they use much more soy now.

        I have a box of the light color pasta as I liked it for a reasonable substitute. Sadly, that may be my last box? I just bought a box the other day of the darker brown recipe (soy). Maybe I should just take it back before even trying it.

        Anyone else tried the new recipe Bell Vita at TJs?

        1. t
          torta basilica

          I had exactly the same thing happen to me - loved the penne/threw out the rigatoni - nasty stuff! Luckily, I bought a case of the penne, but we're getting down to 6 or so boxes left. I really hope there weren't more carbs in the penne than they advertised...

          1. I found a product that I really like in the FRESH PASTA section at Gelson's. I forget the brand but it's clearly labelled low carb. They have a couple of different kinds of ravioli and a fettucine. No one in the family can tell the diff. They also carry this at the low carb store on Melrose but I think only the fettucine. The only downside is that it costs about twice as much as the other fresh pasta.

            1. Just out of curiosity, those of you who still have a box or two of the original batch of Bella Vita, I wonder what the carb count is compared to the new batch of Bella Vita? If Trader's added more soy, it can't be the same.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ann

                Its not an accurate comparison as the serving size is different on my the boxes.

                Old recipe (of penne rigate): Serving size (dry)=3/4 cup (56g) serv.per.cont=6; calories=160; CARB=18 (net carbs 10); fiber=8g; protein=28g

                New recipe (of rigatoni): Serving size (prepared)=3/4 cup (37g) serv.per.cont=9; calories=130; CARB=14 (net carbs 10); fiber=4g; protein=16g

                One has to do the math.

                Incidently, the entire package looks the same saying 80% les carbs and the ingredients list is the same: defatted soy flour, wheat gluten, isolated soy protein.

                1. re: kc girl

                  Ooops! the serving size of the new recipe is one cup, prepared.

              2. Oh my gosh! Yep, exact same thing here. Bought some late last year (penne rigate, in Arlington, VA, loved it.) Then it dissapeared. Found it briefly at Shoppers Food Warehouse (rotini! wonderful). Then found the "new recipe" at TJs again - awful. Most unfortunate since I bought 4 boxes. Gritty, gummy, foul smelling.

                And I've noticed that they amount that the box says cooks up to a cup really only cooks up to a little more than half a cup. I never know what that means for nutritional info. Does that make the calories etc higher or lower? I go by ounces, but am getting a lower yield than they say. Odd.

                So far it seems to work best with cheese sauce and broccoli, so I'll run with that.

                1. Hi Fellow Lo Carber,
                  I on the other hand have to lower my carbs to keep my weight down. I have lost 46 lbs. so far. I started on the diet June 07.
                  In reply to your query regarding lo carb pasta... They have recently come out with a line of lo carb pasta from the company Dreamfields. Spaghetti, Penne, Rigatoni, Macaroni and lazagna noodles are available. check out their website online. The pasta is from $2-4 per box but I have seen coupons out there. All my major grocery stores are carrying it in NJ. Enjoy!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: mkatity

                    I wonder what the oldest resurrected post is...

                    1. re: Josh90004

                      I'm not sure but Josh this is one resurrection I appreciate, having come "late" to the low carb lifestyle just last year. Nearly all of the new "low carb" products that sprang up have disappeared and the older products with low carbs are dropping the references on some of their labels. Has anyone seen the aformentioned Dreamfields in so. Cal stores? Or the Darrielle pasta recently? I buy low carb milk at Stater Bros. w/ just 3 carbs per serving (5 for the chocolate milk). The brand name is Hood's if anyone is interested. Have not been able to get it anywhere else. Great for making a low carb instant pudding for those times I gotta have a sweet snack. . .

                      1. re: Joani Macaroni

                        I don't know where you are located but I find Dreamfield's in Vons/Ralphs/Albertsons. It is good.

                        1. re: dockhl

                          Northwest Orange County. Thanks Dockhl. I will check those places and look. Is it with the regular pasta or with diet foods?

                          1. re: Joani Macaroni

                            I buy it mostly @ albertson's/vons and in both places it is with reg pasta, lower shelf. Sometimes sells for $2/box and comes in penne, elbows and spaghetti around here, but I know they make other shapes.
                            $1 off coupon ;-


                            BTW, I HATE whole wheat pastas because of the grittiness and don't find that with this at all.

                            1. re: dockhl

                              Thanks Dockhl-
                              I tried some brand of whole wheat pasta in the past and it was like eating pasty softened cardboard! I will look for the Dreamfields and taste-test it on myself and hubby.

                          2. re: dockhl

                            dockhl, which vons/ralphs/albertsons do you frequent?

                            1. re: bruinike

                              Vons/Albertsons....mostly Paso Robles. Ralph's....SLO . I live in Paso.

                    2. You can give these a try: http://www.house-foods.com/tofushirat...
                      Only 3 grams of Carbs per serving. I've found them at my local Whole Foods (Fairfax & Santa Monica Blvd), but it seems like they are available at many more locations in California as well...