Pasta, in whatever shape you favor, is quick and easy to prepare, versatile, hearty and delicious. And once you boil it down to the bare facts, pasta can actually be good for you. The next time you wonder what to fix for dinner, grab a box of pasta and know that you’ll be serving up a healthy meal for your family and they won’t even know it.
Whole grain pastas are a tough sell to most families with small children, even adults need a little time to adjust their palates to the nutty taste and chewy texture that the whole grains provide. But the increased amount of fiber whole grain pasta brings to the table is worth the effort of getting your family to like them.
Start the adjustment slowly by substituting one-fourth of the pasta amount you normally cook with the whole grain version. Slowly increase the amount until you work your way up to serving a 100 percent whole grain pasta dish.
Keeps Hunger Away
All pasta, whole wheat or refined flour varieties, are rich in proteins that keeps hunger away and keeps you feeling fuller longer. The proteins slow the release of starch into the blood stream and keeps the just-eaten fullness going for a long period of time.
Fresh or Dried
There are legitimate arguments for each side of the noodle – fresh or dried – and both versions have their preferred culinary usage. Fresh noodles contain whole eggs and therefore are slightly higher in fat, cholesterol and sodium than dried noodles. Fresh pasta is also less sturdy than dried noodles and is best suited for use with a light sauce and no toppings. Dried pasta can hold up well under both heavy sauce and chunky vegetable or meat toppings.
Pasta is the perfect platform for adding more vegetables to your family’s diet. Toss cooked pasta with sautéed tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, kale, chard or arugula to make pasta healthy and sneak in a couple extra servings of vegetables.
No Oil, Please
We’ve been taught for decades to use a few drops of oil or butter on cooked pasta to prevent the noodles from clumping together. Unless oil or butter is an integral part of the recipe, don’t use it. No only does the oil and butter add fat and calories, either will make the noodles too slick for the sauce to stick. The key to loose noodles that don’t clump together is use plenty of boiling water when cooking. Use a large pot and 4-6 quarts of water per pound of pasta and get the water into a full rolling boil before adding the dry noodles. When pasta has plenty of room to move around in during the cooking process it won’t clump together.