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Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we Said It! - Free Cooking And BBQ Magazine page contents

Pasta IS Healthy ! There…we said it!

Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we said it! Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Pasta is a convenient and filling meal. However, surprise, surprise pasta is healthy!

Pasta dishes are much loved all over the world. According to the National Pasta Association, the average person in the States consumes 20 lbs of pasta every year. However often it is a dish that is frowned on, especially by people who want to eat healthily and in particular, lose weight.

It is possible to enjoy pasta, and it can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet.

Recent studies have found that people who are on a low GI diet will still lose weight. GI is a way to measure how quickly a carbohydrate-rich food may raise blood sugar. The faster the absorption, the sooner a person’s blood sugar levels will rise. Even the American Diabetes Association mentions that starchy foods such as pasta can be part of a healthy diet.

It is essential, though, that there is a limit on the pasta portion size. Also, bear in mind that high fat, high sugar sauce will negate any health aspects of pasta.

It can also be better to opt for whole-grain pasta or investigate lentil-based pasta, which has more nutrients than white flour-based pasta.

Pasta IS Healthy

Whole-grain vs. white pasta

Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we said it! Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Photo credit: MyFitnessPalblog

Traditional White pasta uses specific parts of a wheat kernel. When the white pasta is produced, essential nutrients are lost.

Whole grain pasta uses all of the wheat kernels. The nutrients remain along with the fiber. Whole grain pasta is lower in calories and carbohydrates.

There are many shapes and sizes of pasta. Most are available in white and wholewheat. Choose wisely!

Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we said it! Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Reasons why we should use pasta in a healthy meal

  • It keeps you feeling fuller longer.
  • It’s a cheap ingredient
  • Pasta is very versatile.
  • Simple and easy to make
  • Many different shapes to have fun with.
  • Healthy pasta dishes in the right portions can help you lose weight. Studies have shown that people on the Mediterranean diet lose more fat than those on other diets.
  • Pasta is low in sodium ( salt )
  • Pasta is low in fat. By itself, it has just over half a gram of fat per serving.
  • Pasta has a low glycemic index, which keeps blood sugar regulated.

 

Tips to use when making pasta based on healthy meals

Use whole grain pasta or bean and lentil-based pasta.

Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we said it! Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Choose your sauce carefully. Too often, a basic pasta has a Creamy Mushroom sauce with meatballs added. This would mean that a large portion of this dish would contain 1680 calories. Compare this to a Light Spaghetti and Meatballs with lentils ( Recipe below) with 473 Calories per serving. Just as delicious and healthy.

Be careful when adding a shop-bought pre-made sauce. They are often high in salt, fats, and sugars.

Avoid having the traditional garlic bread and spoonfuls of Parmesan Cheese to accompany your pasta dish.

Add plenty of vegetables to your pasta dish

Use lean proteins such as chicken breast, reduced-fat mince, etc

Make sauces at home so that you have more control over the ingredients

Keep the amount of oil you use to a maximum of 2 Tablespoons

Consider substituting cheese with nutritional yeast. It is very similar to parmesan.

Limit portion sizes.

 

Pasta Alternatives

Alternatives to pasta include:

  • quinoa
  • zucchini, spaghetti squash, and other vegetables
  • brown or wild rice
  • buckwheat noodles also called soba noodles
  • sprouted grains
  • spelt
  • bulgur
  • whole-wheat couscous
  • shirataki, or miracle, noodles
  • Pasta has a low glycemic index, which keeps blood sugar regulated.

 

Light Spaghetti and Meatballs with Lentils

Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we said it! Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Ingredients
  • 1 Tsp Olive oil
  • 280 grams Whole-wheat Spaghetti
  • Meatballs:-
  • 1 A cup of green lentils well drained
  • 1 A cup of lean minced pork ( no higher than 8 % fat)
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Crushed garlic clove
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Two shallots chopped finely
  • 2 Garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 Tablespoon oregano chopped
Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

Lightly mash the lentils in a bowl

Stir in the rosemary, pork mince, garlic, and mustard. Season with pepper and Low salt.

Mix well

Divide mixture into 20 small balls

Prepare a baking tray lined with foil and brushed with a little oil.

Place the meat/lentil balls on it.

Bake for 15 mins until cooked set-aside

Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add a further tablespoon of oil. Cut the tomatoes in half and fry in the pan cut side down. Continue to cook until they are just starting to soften.

Add 125 ml of water to the pan and mix in the tomato puree. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes—season with the chili flakes, pepper, and oregano.

Place the sauce in a casserole dish. Add meatballs and spoon over the sauce.

Cover the dish and bake for 10 minutes.

Boil a large saucepan of water. Add the spaghetti and bring back to the boil. Cook for 10 mins until al dente.

Drain the spaghetti and serve with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with a few leaves of fresh oregano.

Only 473 Calories per serving.

Light Spaghetti and Meatballs with Lentils

Enjoy a light delicious pasta dish
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • Ingredients
  • 1 Tsp Olive oil
  • 280 grams Whole-wheat Spaghetti
  • Meatballs:-
  • 1 A cup of green lentils well drained
  • 1 A cup of lean minced pork no higher than 8 % fat
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Crushed garlic clove
  • Sauce:-
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Two shallots chopped finely
  • 2 Garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 Tablespoon oregano chopped

Instructions

  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
  • Lightly mash the lentils in a bowl
  • Stir in the rosemary, pork mince, garlic, and mustard. Season with pepper and Low salt.
  • Mix well
  • Divide mixture into 20 small balls
  • Prepare a baking tray lined with foil and brushed with a little oil.
  • Place the meat/lentil balls on it.
  • Bake for 15 mins until cooked set-aside
  • Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add a further tablespoon of oil. Cut the tomatoes in half and fry in the pan cut side down. Continue to cook until they are just starting to soften.
  • Add 125 ml of water to the pan and mix in the tomato puree. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes—season with the chili flakes, pepper, and oregano.
  • Place the sauce in a casserole dish. Add meatballs and spoon over the sauce.
  • Cover the dish and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Boil a large saucepan of water. Add the spaghetti and bring back to the boil. Cook for 10 mins until al dente.
  • Drain the spaghetti and serve with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with a few leaves of fresh oregano.

 

Creamy Chicken Leak and Broccoli Pasta

Pasta IS Healthy ! There...we said it! Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

This is perfect for when you feel like you are indulging in a special creamy pasta … yet it is only 477 Calories per serving!

Ingredients
  • 250g Fusilli whole-wheat
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 300g skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • one leek
  • two crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/3 rd cup white wine
  • ½ cup low-fat cream cheese with herb and garlic
  • Zest and juice ½ lemon
  • 2tsp dijon mustard
  • 2tbsp snipped fresh chives, plus extra to garnish
  • 30g fresh parmesan, grated or low-fat feta cheese ( drained and patted dry)
Method

Cook the spaghetti till al dente.

Add the peas and broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water for the last 2 minutes.

Drain reserving 4 Tablespoons of the pasta water. Return pasta and vegetables once drained to a pot.

Spray a frying pan with non-stick oil.

Add the chicken and stir fry for 4 mins. Remove from heat.

In the pan, gently cook the sliced leeks for 5 mins until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until liquid reduces by half.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the soft cheese, lemon zest, juice, and mustard. Cook until everything has heated.

Stir in the reserved pasta water.

Toss the chicken mixture into the pasta. On serving add the chopped chives for garnishing. Serve straight away.

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

This is perfect for when you feel like you are indulging in a special creamy pasta … yet it is only 477 Calories per serving!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • This is perfect for when you feel like you are indulging in a special creamy pasta … yet it is only 477 Calories per serving!
  • Ingredients
  • 250 g Fusilli whole-wheat
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 head broccoli cut into florets
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 300 g skinless chicken breasts thinly sliced
  • one leek
  • two crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/3 rd cup white wine
  • ½ cup low-fat cream cheese with herb and garlic
  • Zest and juice ½ lemon
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives plus extra to garnish
  • 30 g fresh parmesan grated or low-fat feta cheese ( drained and patted dry)

Instructions

  • Method
  • Cook the spaghetti till al dente.
  • Add the peas and broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water for the last 2 minutes.
  • Drain reserving 4 Tablespoons of the pasta water. Return pasta and vegetables once drained to a pot.
  • Spray a frying pan with non-stick oil.
  • Add the chicken and stir fry for 4 mins. Remove from heat.
  • In the pan, gently cook the sliced leeks for 5 mins until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until liquid reduces by half.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and add the soft cheese, lemon zest, juice, and mustard. Cook until everything has heated.
  • Stir in the reserved pasta water.
  • Toss the chicken mixture into the pasta. On serving add the chopped chives for garnishing. Serve straight away

 

The next time you feel like a pasta treat, don’t deny yourself just prepare a low-fat, healthy bowl to enjoy.



 

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About the Author:

Hi, I am a writer based outside Cape Town in South Africa. I come from a Barbecue obsessed family. With the great weather we have in Cape Town ( most of the year) we enjoy Cooking Outside in our Backyard as often as possible. South African's love to "Braai" anything! The trick to continuing to enjoy Barbecuing is loving the old favorites but experimenting with new foods and methods often.

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