Pasta – it has such a bad reputation. But it doesn’t have to. Sure, you don’t want to eat only pasta as it does contain a hefty amount of carbs and plenty of calories too. But, if it’s your favorite food, you absolutely do not have to give it up to be healthy. The trick is to enjoy your pasta without going overboard. There are loads of ways you can do this. Here are some of the easiest and the best.
1. Measure It out Carefully
The problem with pasta is that it’s tricky to figure out what a proper portion size is. That plate of carbonara you get at your favorite Italian place is likely at least three or four servings. Read the package to make sure you know what a serving is. Then, when it’s cooked, measure that amount and put it on your plate. By managing your portions, you can enjoy a favorite without inhaling hundreds more calories than you should be.
2. Pump It up with Veggies
Here’s an awesome secret about vegetables: they are low in calories and high in fiber. What does that mean for you? It means they fill you up and digest slowly, preventing hunger before your next meal. It also means you can eat a pretty large serving of them for very few calories. Adding veggies to your pasta makes the meal seem bigger. Try roasted squash, steamed carrots and green beans or just about any veggie you love best.
3. Put down the Ladle
Pasta is great without swimming in unhealthy sauces. That is especially true of buttery and creamy ones. Opt instead for a tomato based sauce, which is usually full of flavor, but far lower in fat and calories. A simple drizzle of olive oil is another good choice as long as you stick to just a tablespoon or so.
4. Try Fun Shapes
Not only does this shake things up at mealtime, but some of them hold on to the sauce better than a dish of spaghetti noodles. That means you can put on less sauce, saving yourself fat and calories, while also enjoying your favorite pasta topping. Wheels, rotini and bow ties are great choices.
5. Go for the Whole Grain Version
Most types of pasta are made from refined grains, which means unhealthy carbs and less nutrition. Making the switch to whole wheat pasta means you get more fiber, iron and B vitamins and you still get the yummy flavor you love. At the same time, the carbs in whole grains are considered good for you and give you energy.
6. Skip the Cheese
Or at least tone it down a bit. It’s tempting to smother your pasta in melted mozzarella or Parmesan, but cheese is pretty high in fat and calories. It does have its health perks, like calcium and protein, but you need to eat it in moderation to benefit. So skip it altogether, or just have a tiny dash of it.
7. Spice Things up
When you beef up the flavor of your pasta, you feel satisfied even if you don’t eat as much as usual. Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to give pasta flavor and dimension. How about basil, oregano or crushed red pepper? Garlic salt, lemon pepper and fresh thyme are other options.
Did you learn something new here? I hope you can enjoy pasta without wreaking havoc on your health goals. Do you have any other good tips?