Perfecting Pasta

September is here, and fall is just around the corner! One of my absolute favorite fall dishes of all time is butternut squash pasta, and pasta, of course, has been a comfort food of mine since childhood. My absolute FAVORITE memory eating pasta growing up was when I was on my family’s annual trip to Cannon Beach in 2011, when my mom and I were eating our favorite ravioli from JP’s Restaurant in Cannon Beach. (Sadly, it has been closed for five years – RIP). We met this adorable, very sweet newlywed couple at the table next to us. My parents and I liked them so much that my parents, being the kind and generous people that they are, bought them their dinner in secret and the couple didn’t know about it until after we had left the restaurant. It was such an amazing feeling to later find out that my parents had shocked the husband with surprise and made the wife burst out in tears of gratitude. It is behaviors like these that make me strive to do the selfless and generous acts that my parents do every dsay. Let’s take a minute to learn about how one of the world’s most popular dishes found its place in history and pop culture!

While Americans know and love pasta as a signature Italian dish, evidence suggests that prior to the 1st century AD, the Greeks had developed a mixture of egg and water roasted on melted stones that resembled sheets of lasagna. The Romans put their own spin on the dish soon after, layering the lasagna sheets and stuffing them with meat or fish.

By the 5th century AD, a large number of Arab people traveled into Sicily and took a liking to pasta due to its ease of mobility during travels. After a new form of pasta in the shape of strings was developed in Palermo, Arabs then brought their love of pasta from Italy back to their home countries.

Following this time period, when Marco Polo returned from his travels to China in 1295, he was rumored to have encountered pasta during his travels, as pasta was found in many recipe books twenty years prior.


Photo Credit: Serious Eats

By the 14th century, pasta became very popular in “The New World” as Spanish explorers travelled overseas. Between the 15th-18th centuries, pasta became commonplace in American culture, making its way onto the tables of everyone from Thomas Jefferson, to French ambassadors, to people like you and me.

Pasta became a very popular staple for soldiers from the Civil War to World War II, and after many Italians immigrated into the United States post 19th century, spaghetti, lasagna, and many other forms of pasta became a regular part of the American diet, loved by people worldwide.

Pasta and Politics

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Photo Credit: Meagan Nelson

A viral article was published recently about a stoner genius who used a rotini noodle to improve his joint-building skills. For those who choose to indulge in the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, note that a better way to roll a joint is to not only use tube-shaped pasta to stabilize it, but also to filter out any ash. While marijuana has been legalized in several states largely for economic and medicinal purposes, it is important for us to learn how marijuana can be used safely in its highest quality, and why marijuana legalization benefits the country as a whole.

Here are the top ten reasons why marijuana legalization is smart according to

  1.  Alcohol Sales Drop 50% Over the First 3 Years Of Legal Cannabis

Alcohol and liquor sales go down by 50% when cannabis is legalized. In states where cannabis is legalized, even if only medically, alcohol sales are greatly reduced. This fact means less liver disease, less alcoholism, less alcohol abuse, and less health risks associated with regular alcohol consumption.

  1. Pharmaceutical Drug Use Drops By 25% Over the First 3 Years of Legal Cannabis

Pharmaceutical sales and prescription drug use drops by 25% over the first three years when cannabis is legalized. Adderall sales slow as more kids with ADHD and similar issues get treated with cannabis pills. The myriad of drugs given for PTSD diagnoses get cut in half when cannabis is legalized. Cannabis is shown to have positive health effects in many areas. Breakthroughs are happening around the world in Alzheimer’s treatments, autism treatments, cancer and cancer tumor research. What about simple pain relief drugs like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and aspirin?  Cannabis has shown to be a wonder treatment for headaches, nausea, arthritis, body pain, and many symptoms that “over the counter” drugs treat.   Guess why big Pharma doesn’t want to see cannabis legalized?

  1.  Better Marriages and Better Relationships Emerge 

Better marriage and better relationships start to form around cannabis. Cannabis promotes peace, oneness, and relaxation.  Cannabis elevates the level of tolerance and lowers the level of anger and aggression in people. Cannabis increases patience in a person, which can be quite helpful at the end of a stressful day.

  1.  Health Insurance Costs Go Down

The cost of health care is skyrocketing as baby boomers hit the 75-90-year-old stage and “no denial policies” are factored into the insurance pool, and cannabis lowers these health insurance costs. We create a healthier society that reduces alcohol use, lowers stress, and lowers prescription drug use with cannabis, thus lowering our health care costs. Cannabis is a healing plant that has many healthy vitamins and minerals as well.  It does wonders in healing muscles and lowering recovery time in athletes. It also can be used as a Kale substitute and has many antioxidants, thus improving the health of individuals.

  1.   More Tolerance for People with Different Mindsets in the World

If there is one thing cannabis does well, it is relaxing people. Our differences seem less severe when we are using cannabis, and our reasons for fighting seem less sound. In the end, we all want to be happy and live an enjoyable life. “Live and let live” is the mantra of many stoner communities. Cannabis has been used at many peace ceremonies in history dating back to 2,700 BC. It is a plant that promotes relaxation, non-judgement, and peace.  Hence the peace symbol was a predominant symbol of the cannabis movement in the 1970s.

  1. Lower Car Insurance Costs

Yep, you heard that right. While you should not drive stoned or high, some studies have shown that drivers do better when using cannabis instead of alcohol because of cannabis’s ability to improve concentration and ability to focus. The fact that alcohol use would drop by 25% to 50% would lower car insurance costs alone.

  1.  Lower Unemployment and Better Employment 

Many jobs in the government can’t be filled right now due to the fact that most of the applicants would fail a drug test for marijuana. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the CIA is having a hard time filling their anti-hacker and computer security roles because most applicants won’t apply knowing they would fail the drug test for marijuana. 

If the CIA is acknowledging it, you can be sure it is a private sector issue as well.  The best talent is sitting on the sidelines because they prefer a lesser or different job that either doesn’t drug test or allows cannabis use.

  1.  Sick People Get a Natural Medicine

Sick people can use this all-natural plant since marijuana can relieve their pain and make their life experience better, whether they have anxiety, cancer, or another illness.  Isn’t a better life all we are all hoping for, especially as our bodies get older? Fewer aches, less pain, and lower stress can be achieved through the usage of cannabis, and many adults would prefer the use of marijuana to a ridiculous increase in pills as they age.

  1.  Incarceration for Non-Violent Offenders and Prison Costs

Incarceration for non-violent offenders goes down and prison costs go down when marijuana is legalized. Some offenders have disproportional sentences for their marijuana offenses compared to those with more serious crimes, and there is a huge disparity of non-Caucasian arrests for drug offenses compared to that of Caucasians. This behavior is unjust and needs to be stopped.

  1.  The Billions Wasted On The “War On Drugs” Can Be Put To Better Use

The billions of dollars wasted on the “War on Drugs” could be put to better use if marijuana were legalized. Our federal and state law enforcement agencies would be better off to re-deploy to much needed areas like illegal heroin, fentanyl, synthetic marijuana, and opiates coming into the country. Billions of dollars have been wasted in the last decade chasing marijuana around the world and trying to eradicate it, but these efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Taxpayer money and federal drug agencies would be better utilized trying to put an end to use of highly fatal and addictive drugs instead.

Pasta and Pop Culture

One of the most well-known representations of pasta in modern pop culture comes from the hugely successful children’s book, Strega Nona, about a wise old witch doctor who takes care of her villagers by feeding them using a magical pasta pot and curing their illnesses. The book, whose morals include diligence, fair punishment, selflessness, and community, went on to win a Caldecott Honor in 1976 and was named one of School Library Journal’s “Top 100 Picture Books of All Time” in 2012. Purchase the book here and enjoy!

strega nona

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pasta

Pasta 2

Recipe and Photo Credit: Kyra Martin


Number of Servings: 8

Cost per serving $1.38 view details


  1. Peel and chop the squash into about 1 inch by 1 inch pieces.
  2. In a lightly sprayed sauce pan, mix the chopped onion and squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper
  3. Roast for about 30-40 minutes at 400 until the squash is tender; a fork should go in and out easily like when cooking potatoes.
  4. In a dry pan on the stove top, toast the walnuts until golden brown and you can smell them. Keep a close eye on them because they can burn quickly.
  5. Cook the noodles until done and reserve some of the water.
  6. Add the goat cheese and melt with a little water until the mixture is thick and creamy. Don’t add too much or it will end up diluted and soupy. I only added about 1/4 cup total.
  7. Stir in the squash, onions and walnuts.
  8. If you’d like, you can garnish with some dried cranberries and more walnuts.