For the non-cook, it’s a God-send. It’s quick, easy to make and goes with just about anything. Toss in your favourite protein, vegetables or cheeses and viola! It’s so delicious that it even satisfies the pickiest of eaters. What’s not to love about pasta?
Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss or weight management, one of the first things people tell you to kick to the curb is pasta. Now if you’re a pasta lover like myself and can’t bear the thought of a life without it, you’re in luck. We spoke with nutritionist and registered dietician Andrea Holwegner on why you should keep your favourite pasta dishes in your diet (phew!).
Taste the benefits
Many fad diets suggest taking away all carbs from your diet, including pasta. But as popular as this belief may be, Holwegner says that Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada don’t agree with these claims. Excess calories can create weight gain–not healthful portions of pasta, she says. In fact pasta fits in a healthy diet and is part of the Mediterranean diet, considered one of the healthiest diets in the world.
Countries that follow the Mediterrean diet, like Italy (a foodie’s must-go travel destination) have no problem eating bread, cheese, enjoying a glass of wine and of course, pasta! Holwegner says the signature dish contains carbohydrates, which is your body’s main source of glucose. This provides energy for the brain, which also helps make you happy. It’s also low on the Glycemic Index which makes you feel fuller longer. Low Glycemic Index foods promote satiety and go into the blood stream slowly preventing blood sugar rushes, which is better for your health, says Holwegner. As if that wasn’t enough, pasta is also rich in vitamin B, potassium and fibre.
Now before you run to your nearest restaurant and devour your favourite spaghetti and meatballs, you need to remember to eat smart. When it comes to portion sizes Holwegner recommends a cup to a cup and a half of pasta per serving. Then it’s about pairing it with things you love. Add your favourite veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes or roasted pepper. Include a protein such as grilled chicken, seafood, or lean ground meat, says Holwegner. The only thing you should avoid is fattening cream sauces.
Not only does pasta make a great dinner option, don’t forget your pasta salads! They make great lunch options. Holwegner recommends mixing it in with your fave veggies like carrot and broccoli, topping it off with a light vinaigrette and you’re ready to go.
Don’t restrict yourself
The worst part of any diet is the part where they say, “Don’t eat this, or the dreadful, You shouldn’t have that.” Holwegner is known has the chocoholic nutritionist, so she knows all too well once you start restricting yourself of things you love, the harder it is to maintain that diet. True health, says Holwegner can still be achieved with fun food and tasty cuisine. In healthy portions, you can enjoy the foods you love guilt-free.
Andrea’s pasta pick: Rotini with Fresh Tomatoes, Aromatic Herb Pesto & Ricotta Salata
If the name of the recipe doesn’t already make your mouth water, prepare it taste it for yourself!
Prep time 10 minutes; Cook time 15 minutes
1 pound Barilla PLUS Rotini
8 tablespoons (10 cl) extra virgin olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic
3 sprigs marjoram
3 sprigs oregano
6 leaves basil
1 tablespoon (25 leaves) parsley
3 sprigs thyme
½ cup (60 grams) walnuts
To taste salt
To taste black pepper
½ cup (60 grams) ricotta salata, shredded
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large skillet, sauté© tomatoes in one tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. While that’s cooking, combine all dry ingredients in blender. Pulse for 10 seconds or until finely chopped.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil to create the pesto. Place pesto in bowl and add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta and toss with pesto and tomatoes. Top it off with shredded cheese and you’re done! Bon appé©tit! Delicious guilt-free pasta.