Pasta: bad for your health?
Many people still wrongly believe pasta is unhealthy because they are part of the carbohydrates family. In fact, carbohydrates are necessary to our diet and should represent about 50 % of our daily calories. Of course, this amount depends on our age, gender, and weight and can be calculated on Health Canada's calorie intake page. Pasta as such is therefore not really the problem; rather it’s what we choose to put on it that can spoil the sauce.
According to nutritionists, a balanced plate should be half filled with veggies, and only a quarter filled with carbohydrates and meats or alternatives and a serving of pasta should not exceed 250 ml (1 cup) or the equivalent of your fist in cooked pasta. Also, choose low-fat and low-sodium sauces (avoid cream-based sauces) and limit the amount of cheeses used to avoid unnecessary calories piling up quickly.
All kinds of pasta
The beauty of pasta is that you can easily vary it according to your mood. Pasta in the shape of tubes, strings, stuffed or with irregular shapes: you will find something for everyone! There are also more and more varieties of whole-wheat pasta to help you increase your fiber intake and even colorful vegetable pasta that even picky eaters will enjoy.
Pasta sauces are as varied as the kinds of pasta available and we all have our favorites. But how do you know which sauces are the healthiest options and which sauces should be eaten in moderation?
- Pesto: This raw sauce is usually made with olive oil, fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan. You can also find varieties with sundried tomatoes. The fat contained in olive oil may not be harmful to the heart, but it is still high in calories, so be careful to not exaggerate when using pesto.
- Tomato and meat sauces: There are several varieties of tomato sauces, some sweet and full of vegetables and other spicier, with meats or seafood. Tomato sauces are usually the best choice as they contain very little fat. If you want to add meat, choose lean meats like lean beef, veal or chicken.
- Creamy sauces: The most recognizable are of course Alfredo and Carbonara and the recipes available usually contain a lot of cream, butter, and cheese, nothing to help reduce your fat intake. If the urge to eat a creamy sauce becomes irresistible, try to limit yourself to only ½ cup of sauce and complement with a little Parmesan or Romano cheese to enhance the cheesy taste.
Good and easy pasta recipes
- Asparagus and tuna carbonara: A carbonara, which resembles the authentic recipe but replaces the bacon with tuna, a healthier option. The addition of asparagus also helps it become a balanced meal.
- Pasta with rosee sauce: Instead of adding cream, Ricardo adds a nice homemade béchamel sauce which contains less fat to combine with the tomato sauce.
- Macaroni au gratin with carrot puree: A creamy and tasty mac & cheese with a healthy twist. Your children will keep coming back for more!
- Easy and Healthy spaghetti sauce: A delicious spaghetti sauce full of fresh vegetables that your whole family will enjoy and that is handy to freeze and reheat later.
If you are looking for more pasta dishes recipes, you can look at the Food Network website for more inspiration.