Today is National Pasta Day! It’s one of the world’s most favorite foods, and rightfully so, with hundreds of known pasta shapes and endless options of pairing with sauces and other scrumptious ingredients.
Before you say, “Yes it’s delicious, but it’s unhealthy,” think again! Three Pillars’ Registered Dietitian, Sara Zimmerman points out that, “Pasta is actually a good source of a handful of essential nutrients, including B-vitamins, Iron, and Folic Acid.” She recommends looking for pasta that is also enriched or fortified with extra nutrients to get some bonus nutritional punch. You might see “Plus” or “Smart” in their titles, or go for a whole-wheat version. These types of pasta will taste much like regular pasta, but pack double or more fiber and extra Calcium and Vitamins.
And what about these other pasta myths? Sara lets you in on the truth:
- Pasta will make me gain weight.
Nope – pasta won’t make you gain weight; eating too many calories will. One serving of pasta (2 oz) typically contains about 210 calories, so enjoy it without worrying about your jeans size. As with most things, moderation is key.
- Pasta is one of those carbs that will give me quick energy and then I’ll crash.
You know that some carbohydrates can make your blood sugar skyrocket at first and then later make you crash. You probably also know that not all carbs are created equal, either. People are often surprised to hear that pasta is one carb that has a low glycemic index, which means it breaks down rather slowly in your body, maintaining fairly steady blood sugar levels and a lasting effect on your energy level.
- Pasta isn’t nutritious.
Aside from containing vitamins, iron, folic acid, and more healthy nutrients, pasta is also low in the things you want to avoid. It’s naturally cholesterol-free and also extremely low in sodium. If you replace a high-sodium food in your diet with wholesome whole-wheat pasta, you’re doing yourself a big favor.
So now that pasta’s on your mind, do you need some inspiration to prepare a new dish besides your usual spaghetti and meatballs? We think these look simply delicious:
- Shrimp & Pine Nut Spaghetti from ‘Cooking Light’
Substitute whole-wheat or enriched spaghetti and enjoy this decadent combination of pasta with shrimp, pine nuts, and a perfectly-seasoned parmesan sauce. Toss in a few veggies from your fridge or freezer to make it your own. (Asparagus, anyone?)
- Penne With Kale & Cannellini Beans from ‘Muscle and Fitness’
It’s simple and nutritious! This recipe features whole-wheat penne pasta (the ribbed tubes) with flavorful spices and a blend of sautéed kale and beans. Talk about whole food and excellent nutrition.
- Pork & Bok Choy Stir Fry from ‘Eating Well’
This one’s zippy. They recommend cutting the bok choy into long, thin strips to pair perfectly with the long, thin noodles. You could use an enriched linguine if you don’t have Japanese soba noodles, but the sobas are made with buckwheat, which gives them a unique, nutty flavor and a boost of fiber.
Now “Mangiamo” – Let’s eat!
Sources: itpaystoeatpasta.com; livestrong.com; cookinglight.com; muscleandfitness.com; eatingwell.com