How To Make Healthy Pasta
If you want to make sure your pasta dishes stay on the right side of healthy, I have some useful tips for how to make healthy pasta that will help you out.
To put those tips to the test, I also included a healthy pasta recipe you can try to convince yourself that pasta can indeed be turned into a healthy and balanced dish.
Now, without further ado, let’s start talking about how you can transform your pasta dishes into healthy and nutritious meals.
Is Pasta a Healthy Dinner?
Believe it or not, pasta is a healthy dinner option if you choose the right pasta and the right recipe. The type of pasta you use in your recipe is very important. But so are the toppings. The calorie count and fat content can increase rapidly if you don’t pay attention to what you add to your pasta dishes.
On the other hand, if you use fresh and nutritious veggies, healthy sauces, and lean protein, pasta can easily become a balanced meal that’s perfect for dinner.
What Is the Healthiest Pasta?
Avoiding carbs all together for the purpose of eating healthy is not a great idea. What you have to do is look for eat healthy carbs. That applies to any type of carbs, including pasta.
Ideally, you want to use whole-wheat pasta that contains at least six grams of protein and four grams of fiber per serving. You should also check the sodium and sugar counts. Opt for pasta varieties that contain no more than one or two grams of sugar and less than 10 milligrams of salt.
Nutrients in Whole-Grain Vs. Refined Pasta
Refined pasta is higher in carbs and calories and it lacks in the nutritional department. In contrast, whole grain pasta is lower in calories, higher in fiber, and a great source of complex carbohydrates. Furthermore, whole grain pasta is a great source of minerals, such as manganese, selenium, and phosphorus.
Is Whole-Grain Pasta a Better Option?
Since it’s lower in calories and in carbs compared to refined pasta, whole grain pasta seems like a clear better option. If you take into consideration the extra micronutrients present in whole grain pasta, the answer is even more obvious. It’s true, whole grain pasta is definitely the better choice.
In fact, whole grains have been associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.
However, since whole-grain pasta is made from pulverized whole-wheat flour, the benefits you’ll be getting are not comparable to the benefits of consuming other whole grains such as quinoa, oats or brown rice.
So it’s still best to eat pasta in moderation and to incorporate other whole grains into your diet.
How to Make Healthy Pasta
Pasta is definitely a crowd-pleaser. Additionally, it’s fast and easy to make, that’s why it’s a frequent dinner option for many families. Besides, pasta can be a healthy dinner option for you and your family. Here are a few simple tips for how to make pasta healthy every time:
Use Whole Grain Pasta
We already established that whole wheat pasta is better than refined pasta. The good news is that there are many whole-wheat varieties to choose from including whole wheat penne, fettuccine, spaghetti, tortellini, and so on.
Cook the Pasta Al Dente
Eating your pasta al dente is truly healthier for you because the starches don’t break down completely as they do when you fully cook pasta. If you aim for al dente, your pasta dishes will be healthier.
The easiest way to make pasta healthy is to pack it with veggies. Opt for fresh seasonal veggies for the best flavors and increased nutritional value.
Increase the Protein
Whole wheat pasta is a great source of complex carbs, however, it’s important to balance the carbohydrates by adding healthy proteins to the mix. Adding protein will help keep your blood sugar levels in check and will give you more energy. For vegan and vegetarian pasta dishes, you can always rely on black beans. However, if you are not a fan of vegan and vegetarian pasta dishes, you can use lean cut meats. Just make sure you don’t increase the fat content when using meat in the recipe.
Use Red Sauce
Generally speaking, red sauce is healthier than white cream sauce because cream sauces tend to be very high in fat. Red sauce is better and you can easily make it at home to be sure it’s 100% clean and good for you.
Make It Spicy or Aromatic
Making healthy pasta dishes doesn’t mean compromising on flavor. To add a great depth of flavor, use spices and herbs.
The pasta portions served in restaurants are usually huge. For most adults, the recommended portion size for pasta is one cup, which means approximately ½ cup of uncooked pasta. It doesn’t seem sufficient but if you add veggies and protein, it’s more than enough for a hearty meal.
Healthy Pasta Recipe – Tomato Sauce Penne Pasta
This tomato sauce penne pasta is a healthy pasta recipe that makes a light and delicious dinner. Prepared with an uncooked tomato and basil sauce that you will make yourself, this vegetarian pasta dish is very easy to put together and is and ready in less than 30 minutes.
- 4 large ripe tomatoes (~2 pounds);
- 1 large garlic clove (or 2 small garlic cloves);
- 3 tablespoons olive oil;
- 2/3 cup fresh basil;
- 1 pound penne pasta;
- 1/3 grated Parmesan + more for serving if desired
- Salt & pepper to taste.
- Blender or food processor;
- Large pot;
- Large bowl.
1. Add water and a pinch of salt to a large pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add the penne pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
3. In the meantime, chop the tomatoes and mince the garlic clove.
4. Puree the chopped tomatoes, minced garlic clove, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the blender or food processor.
5. Add the fresh basil and pulse to mix.
6. After the pasta is done cooking, use the colander to drain it.
7. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the tomato sauce and grated Parmesan.
8. Let the pasta sit for 1-2 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.
9. Serve with Parmesan sprinkled on top.