Pasta, along with many other carbohydrate foods, tends to have a bad reputation. As the granddaughter of an Italian man, I tend to disagree. Pasta, whether it’s white or whole wheat, can be incorporated into a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Its bad reputation tends to revolve around how we typically see pasta served…a big bowl of pasta with sauce, probably with a side of bread. This leads to an unbalanced meal, low in protein and vegetables. This is why I love MyPlate. It is a great way to help visualize what a balanced meal should look like: Half of the plate being fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate being protein, and a quarter of the plate being your grain or starch, in this case, pasta.
In honor of this blog, and my love of pasta, I decided to make some fresh pasta, with the help of some Kitchenaid attachments. We made a mess and it was quite a bit of work, but a lot of fun! And in the end, made for a delicious helping of fettuccini.
Of course, you don’t have to make fresh pasta in order to enjoy it. A box of pasta can be easily transformed into a tasty meal. I like to experiment with different types and shapes of pasta to keep things interesting. This time, I went with gemelli, whole wheat orzo, and manicotti.
I had never used gemelli pasta before, and now I’m hooked! It’s funny how different shapes can be so different. I paired the pasta with shrimp and spinach, in a lemony butter sauce. Yum!
Orzo is a short-cut pasta that resembles rice. It is typically used in soups, but it makes a great addition to salads! I added it cucumbers, tomato, feta, and red onion to make a Greek-style salad. This made the perfect accompaniment to lamb meatballs and tzatziki.
I’ve made plenty of stuffed shells, but never tried manicotti. It takes a gentle hand when boiling, and things can get a little messy when stuffing them, but oh man, these turned out amazing! Stuffed with mashed butternut squash, ricotta, Italian sausage, and spinach, they are so flavorful. The goodness doesn’t stop there…the garlic cream sauce poured over the manicotti is downright delicious.
Regardless of how you choose to use pasta in a meal, be assured that it can be incorporated healthfully into any meal. Pair the pasta with a good source of protein and plenty of vegetables, and you have a balanced, nutritious meal!
If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate pasta into a balanced diet, make an appointment with one of our dietitians by clicking here or calling 301-474-2499.