Pasta is not only versatile in many recipes and favorite, but can be healthy too! October celebrates National Pasta Month and more specifically, October 17 celebrates National Pasta Day! Now is the perfect time to learn how to boost the nutrition of your pasta meals! With so many pasta options, here is how to choose one that tastes great and is healthier too!
Since whole grains are associated with heart health, gut health, and weight management, half of the grains that we eat should be 'whole grains'. Unfortunately, the color of the pasta or front of package claims is not a clear indication that it is a whole grain. To know if pasta is whole grain, look at the ingredient list and the first ingredient should say "whole" or "100% whole". If the first ingredient says "enriched", it is not a whole grain. Whole grain pasta has a heartier texture and a bit more flavor and is a superior choice.
Bean, lentil, and quinoa-based pastas are other options and while they are not 'whole grain', they are equally nutritious. High in fiber and higher in protein, these pastas are excellent substitutes if looking for a gluten-free option. Gluten is simply a protein in wheat and in most pasta since pasta is traditionally made from wheat. When choosing a bean, lentil, or quinoa pasta, they are likely to be gluten-free!
When it comes to the sauce, red sauce made from canned tomatoes contains concentrated lycopene which is a health promoting phytonutrient. Choosing a veggie-based sauce over other options will increase the nutritional value of the meal. If you prefer a sauce made from milk, cheese, or cream, be sure to incorporate veggies into the meal either with the pasta such as in this Pasta Primavera recipe or as a side. Remember, More Fruits and Veggies Matters!
Our Family Pasta Primavera
Recipe adapted from: Campbell's Soup
- 8 ounces Our Family whole grain pasta, cooked without salt and drained
- 1 tablespoon Our Family olive oil
- 4 cups cut up fresh or frozen vegetables such as broccoli, carrots asparagus, and bell peppers
- 1 can Campbell's® Healthy Request® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons grated Our Family Parmesan cheese
- Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the soup, water, chicken and lemon juice and heat to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cheese and toss to coat. If you like a thinner sauce, add the reserved pasta water a little at a time until the sauce is the desired consistency. Season to taste. Top with the basil and serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
If your family prefers the white, enriched pasta, that's okay too, but just be sure to incorporate other whole grains into meals and snacks such as whole grain bread and crackers. A trick is to use half whole grain and half white pasta in your meals. Mixing white and whole grain pasta is the best of both worlds and isn't easily noticed when topped with sauce and part of a meal.
Be sure to stop in to pick up the ingredients for a delicious and nutritious pasta meal that your family is sure to enjoy!
"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.