I’m always looking for ways to make my comfort food staples healthier, and thus a little more guilt-free. So when I learned there were ways to make healthy pasta, I took notes. Pasta gets such a bad rap in most diet regimens, but if you know what to avoid, and what to add, there’s no reason even the most health-conscious girl can’t enjoy it now and then. Here are 7 ways to make healthier pasta.
I know what you’re thinking: pasta isn’t healthy because it’s loaded with dreaded carbs. Well, that’s not entirely true. We need carbs to survive — for example, fiber is a carb — but refined pastas are indeed loaded with “bad” fast-burning carbs. Simply making the switch to whole grain pastas can address that, adding fiber and other nutrition, providing a much slower-burning, healthier “burn.” The best part? You won’t be able to tell the difference in flavor or consistency.
I don’t know when it happened, but for as long as I can remember, we Americans have been adding ground beef and bacon to everything, like condiments. One of the best ways to make healthy pasta is to skip adding the hamburger… or bacon. By doing so, you’ll also skip the calories, most of them from fat, those meats will add.
What do you replace that hamburger with, to make healthy pasta? Veggies, my dear. Veggies. Squash, eggplant, peppers, spinach — all of these are tasty, nutrient-packed alternatives. Add a handful of fresh spinach to a red or light white sauce, and suddenly your pasta can be labeled “Florentine” and “delicious” as well as “healthy.”
Remember those “bad” carbs we’re trying to avoid? They’re also lurking in that popular pasta side item, garlic bread. To make it worse, most garlic bread is also loaded with fat from faux butter and cheese. Skip the garlic bread, or, if you can’t bear the thought, at least prepare your own, sans butter and cheese, at home.
Did I just mention cheese? I did. We also tend to make healthy pasta unhealthy by smothering it with grated cheese, which (again) adds calories and fat. Either opt for a low-fat cheese, made with skim or 2% milk, or skip it altogether.
Like everything else, choosing the proper serving size of pasta is another way to make healthy pasta. How big should a dinner portion of pasta be, then? It’s best to measure the pasta when it’s dry, and one dry serving weighs about 2 ounces.
It seems like most of these ways to make healthy pasta have involved NOT adding something, so it’s time to talk about what to ADD, right? Why not add a side salad of mixed greens and ripe cherry tomatoes to your meal? Skip the high-calorie, high-fat dressings, cheese, and croutons, and add dried cherries, walnuts, and a light vinaigrette. Yum!
See, my dear? It’s completely possible to make healthy pasta, and delicious pasta at that! I’m so glad, too, because pasta is a staple of my comfort-food diet. Which of these tips were you most surprised, or happy, to hear? How do you make healthy pasta? If you know of any other ways to make healthy pasta, do tell… I’d love to try your ideas and recipes!
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