A lot of people think that pasta is generally unhealthy because of its carbohydrates, but it can actually be a very good meal even for people who are watching their weight. Among white-flour foods, pasta is actually the healthiest.
This is because most pasta is made of ground durum wheat. This type of wheat is higher in protein that others, so that pasta made with it has low glycemic index (GI). It is deal for diabetics, for instance, because it won’t increase your blood sugar that much while providing you energy and satisfying your hunger.
The good news is that whole wheat pasta is also very popular and readily available these days if you are really watching your carb intake, along with other options such as gluten-free pasta for those who are allergic or sensitive to gluten.
The secret is in the sauce
When it comes to pasta, the key to eating healthy is what goes with it. Choosing the right pasta sauce can spell a big difference in making your meal filling and satisfying, yet healthy.
For many people, using sauces in a jar or can is a convenient option, but you must be aware of the calorie and sodium content of such commercially prepared products. The ingredients used may seem healthy, but they may have a lot of preservatives that might not be beneficial for your health.
Why not spend some time in the kitchen to come up with your own pasta sauces? Aside from knowing what actually goes into your food, it is generally cheaper as well. The sauce is also more fresh and appetizing when prepared right in your own home.
Healthy pasta sauce options
There are many healthy options for pasta sauces that you can prepare quickly in your own kitchen. Most of them use minimal ingredients, so it’s sure to be easy and convenient.
A very popular and basic healthy pasta sauce to make is aglio e olio. It is a classic Italian pasta dish that simply uses olive oil to coat the spaghetti noodles. Garlic is added and sautéed in the olive oil to bring more flavor and aroma. You can also choose to add some spices like pepper or chili flakes.
Another popular and healthy olive oil-based pasta sauce is pesto. Basil is finely chopped and mixed into the oil together with other ingredients such as garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. You can also season this with salt and pepper to taste.
Rich yet healthy
The classic Italian tomato pasta sauce is rich and filling but also very healthy, because tomatoes contain lycopene which has been found to be a very good antioxidant. To make your own herb-based tomato pasta sauce, saute some garlic and onions in a saucepan and add tomato paste along with some fresh oregano. Add in fresh, diced tomatoes and allow it to simmer for a few minutes. Finish off with fresh basil and parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Alfredo pasta is another well-loved dish, and while it may seem like a heavy sauce, it can be prepared in a light and healthy way by using the right ingredients. In a pan, heat some oil and saute some garlic. Add some flour and whisk it in until smooth. Gradually add in some low-sodium vegetable stock and low-fat milk. Add some nutmeg and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.
Making pasta dishes healthy also depends on the proteins that you add into the sauce. Choose healthier alternatives such as seafood, like fish, shrimp, or scallops. You can also add vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Popular options include carrots, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower.
Pasta is a universal comfort food that appeals even to the pickiest eater, so there’s no reason at all that you can’t enjoy it even if you are on a strict diet. With just the right planning and ingredients, you can enjoy healthy pasta options any time you like.