A little bit about PASTA!

nutrition recipe wholefoods Nov 12, 2020

The RRF team LOVES pasta! But then again...not many people don't!

It's comforting, convenient and delicious. 

However it is a food that I recommend that you limit or even replace with an alternative most of the time.

Pasta is a refined carbohydrate also referred to as a simple or processed carbohydrate. 

Refined carbs don't contain a lot of fibre, vitamins or minerals. They are sometimes referred to as "empty foods" because they really don't contain a lot of nutritional value.

Another adverse effect of pasta and other refined carbohydrates is that they have a high glycaemic index or in other words, after eating refined carbs your blood sugar levels rise.

The other tricky thing with pasta is while eating it in moderation is no problem, it is so easy to over indulge. You do not want to be eating pasta or other refined carbs at every meal, but it is also important to take note of the size of the portion you are eating as well. It's easy to go in for seconds or a scoop or two more. 

Here are my tips on approaching pasta:

Portion control

Be strict here with yourself. Make sure that you are sticking to one standard serve (you can always find this on the back of the packet) and no going back for seconds. If you find it too easy to overindulge with a bowl of pasta,  make pasta a side serve to a meal or part of a salad.

What's on top counts

Carbonara...great, but not very nutritious. Try and incorporate a light sauce. Stock based sauces are great and light, so is a simple tomato and veggie sauce. Sometimes all you need is a glug of olive oil to hold everything together. Try and add some green to your pasta. Spinach, kale, even a pesto made out of broccoli are all good ways to squeeze in more nutrition into every meal. 

Try pasta alternatives 

Back in the day, gluten-free pasta got a pretty bad rap. And that's because, well it wasn't very good. It went mushy, and just tasted a little weird and nothing like the "real thing".

Gluten-free pasta has come a long way! There are so many alternatives now to choose from that are lower in carbs and higher in protein and fibre. 

Here are some to try that I like:

 - Zoodles or zuchinni made into noodles (best option as they are a whole food and you know the source) this is def one of my go to's and have the least amount of carbs 

- Chickpea Barilla Pasta

- Red lentil Barilla Pasta

- Peas, Lentils, Chickpeas & Borlotti Beans Sam Remo Pasta

- TEFF pasta  - Teff is a gluten-free grain. This brand is from a local producer not far from where I live that produces some DELICIOUS pasta!

- Slendier pasta - I like the edamame one!

With all this in mind...here's a very simple spring pasta recipe to get inspired!

Prawn and Asparagus Spring Pasta

Serves 3

1 x 250g packet pasta (I used Outback Harvest's TEFF Penne)

250g green prawns, cleaned detailed, sliced in half length ways if quite thick

1 cup baby peas, frozen 

1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 3cm piece

2 cups spinach (I didn't have any, but this would be a good addition!)

1-2 tsp chilli flakes

4 garlic cloves, 2 crushed, 2 thinly sliced

1 large red onion

Splash of white wine

150ml chicken or veggie stock

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

To serve

Freshly sliced chilli (optional) 

Parsley leaves, chopped (optional)

Parmesan cheese 

Squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta as per the packet instructions. 

Marinade the prawns with a little glug oil, some salt and pepper and the crushed garlic.

Heat a glug of olive oil add the red onion and slice garlic and cook until just softening. Add the chilli flakes, the asparagus and peas and cook for a few minutes until the peas are thawed but not fully cooked. 

Add the prawns, cook for a minute or so then add the white wine and stock stir until the prawns are just cooked. If you are adding spinach, do it now. Finish by adding in a ladle of the pasta water to the prawns and toss the pasta through. 

Divide between your bowls, squeeze a little lemon over the pasta, adding chilli and parsley if you like as well. 

Enjoy!!

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