Making Pasta Healthy

As a popular dish in restaurants and homes across the country, pasta is a favorite among many Americans. While its origins may be Italian, Americans have adapted to pasta and made it their own in many ways. Rigatoni, angel hair or lasagna might be some of your favorites to make, but are you keeping in mind healthier options for pasta? For those watching their weight, a dish like pasta, which is high in carbohydrates, does not need to be eliminated from the diet. By preparing pasta with extra vegetables and lean meats, it can still be a well-balanced meal enjoyed once in a while.

Use whole-wheat products: For some variety, start preparing whole-wheat pasta for friends and family. While whole wheat pasta may take a little longer to cook than white pasta, there are health benefits associated with the switch. Swapping regular pasta for whole-wheat or whole-grain will provide an increase in fiber and minerals not associated with regular types of pasta.

Those who suffer from celiac disease might even consider using gluten-free pasta.

Add extra veggies: Adding vegetables to pasta will not only make it healthier, but will also give it extra flavor. Mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus and any assortment of fresh veggies will go great with pasta. While it does take a little bit of time to prepare the vegetables, the health benefits associated with the addition are worth the effort.

Put in some protein: To make a pasta dish more filling, add chickpeas, ground turkey or chicken to the mix. The added ingredients will make you full and provide extra protein. Beans, tofu or nuts can be added as vegetarian sources of protein in pasta dishes.

Don’t use sauce: Although pasta sauce adds a lot of flavor to the meal, once in awhile consider olive oil for the sauce. Sprinkle just a bit of oil to make the pasta less dry or use lemon zest for a tangy taste. Use extra ingredients such as vegetables or meats to make up for the lack in flavor.

Loose the cheese: While it tastes delicious and tops off pasta well, the extra calories associated with sprinkled cheddar or parmesan might not be necessary for everyone. Instead of adding cheese on top of fresh pasta, cut up sun-dried tomatoes and olives as garnish. Fresh herbs are also a good substitute for cheese.

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