Let’s face it – there’s nothing better than a bowl of pasta, especially during cold winter months. Pasta tends to get a bad rep, but there are ways to make it healthier so you can enjoy it as part of a balanced diet!
As with all things, the key is moderation when it comes to pasta since the most commonly consumed forms are high in carbs and low in fiber. Most pasta products are made from common wheat, which contains plenty of nutrients, but since it is refined and processed before selling, those nutrients get removed.
Eating refined carbs in moderation is fine (as long as you’re not gluten-free), but for the more health-minded, here are some easy, healthy changes you can make to your pasta meals this winter:
Opt for whole grain or chickpea pasta. Replacing traditional pasta with an alternative option is one of the easiest ways to lighten your plate. Whole grain pasta in particular contains plenty of fiber and all parts of the wheat kernel, so you’re not missing out on those nutrients. You can swap the pasta type out for any recipe or choose gluten-free options like veggie pastas, we love zucchini noodles! Check your local grocery store to see what’s available to you.
Load up on veggies and lean protein. The combinations are endless! Use whatever veggies you have in your fridge. It’s as easy as tossing fresh pasta with olive oil and broccoli, mushrooms, or roasted red pepper. Need a little protein? Top with fresh salmon, chicken, or shrimp to create a lighter plate that’s still full of nutrients.
Get creative with sauces. Avoid pasta sauces that contain large amounts of butter and cream and let your veggies and proteins take center stage. Cold-pressed olive oil, garlic, and onion are an excellent base for any dish. From there, you can really add whatever your heart desires to create your own fresh sauce – mushrooms, fresh herbs, white wine, tomato paste, or all of the above! Bolognese, or a hearty meat sauce, can be tempting in the winter, but try this delicious veggie-based alternative:
- Pulse one head of cauliflower in a blender or food processor.
- Pulse 12 ounces (roughly one package) of cremini mushrooms in a blender or food processor.
- Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, cook until brown. Salt lightly to help them release juices.
- Add one medium chopped onion, sautee together for 5 minutes or so.
- Add as much garlic as you’d like (4-6 cloves), red chili flakes, and a pinch of fresh herbs (rosemary or oregano or both!)
- Add ⅓ cup of tomato paste, stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.
- Add a splash of white wine or squeeze of lemon to deglaze the pan and add a burst of flavor.
- Add cauliflower and cook down for roughly 6-8 minutes.
- Add whatever pasta you have directly into the pan and a cup of boiled pasta water to thicken.
- Toss with whatever you want! Lemon, parsley, and fresh pepper work well. Sprinkle with parmesan.