Whole Wheat Pasta: out of its shell
Pasta ran for cover when the low carb tsunami rolled through North America about 9 years ago. In the years since, we’ve learned that pasta isn’t diet enemy number one after all. Noodles returned to the limelight, we re-examined food labels and were reminded that low quality, low fibre and low nutrient foods are the real concerns. The more fibre a grain food has, whether rice, bread, crackers or pasta, the better. When consumed in healthier, moderate portions, pasta adds tremendous value, taste and time-savings to a healthy diet. Have you made the switch to whole wheat or pastas from other whole grains like quinoa and brown rice? It’s one change that’s well worth it. While the calories are about the same at 200 per one cup serving, the fibre jumps from 2.5 grams to 6 grams when you choose whole wheat instead of white. Accompany it with vegetables and you boost the fibre even further. Whole grain foods have the added benefit of being higher in B vitamins, vitamin E and iron while also having a lower glycemic index (GI). GI refers to how quickly a food converts into energy (glucose, which is a sugar) once consumed. A slower glycemic response is desirable for healthy blood glucose control.
To enjoy pasta without having to worry for a second that you haven’t eaten wisely, apply these guidelines:
- Choose whole grain pasta and accompany with a hearty tomato-vegetable sauce. Don’t forget to add quality protein such as shellfish, chicken or lean beef, to make it a well-balanced meal.
- Always cook pasta al dente – still firm to the bite. You can only test this by tasting. Overcooking increases the GI. A lower GI is best.
- The more space the pasta has to cook, the better. One pound of pasta for 8-10 litres of water is considered ideal.
- The smaller, more delicate pasta shapes work best with lighter sauces. Larger noodles pair well with heartier sauces. Keep portions to a maximum of 1 cup of cooked noodles.
Are you a pasta lover? Share your passion. Let me know your favourite ways to enjoy it!