Tag Archives: Whole Wheat

Pick the Perfect Pasta

It used to be that you just had to pick between spaghetti or fettuccine, penne or cavatappi. But now, the pasta aisle is crammed with so many varieties of pasta — quinoa! corn! spelt! — that it’s become more of a library (reading all those stats…). So instead of letting smart marketing get the best of you, consult this guide to find the best pasta for you.

Regular pasta

Nutrition (2 oz, 1 cup cooked): 200 calories, 1 g fat, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 7 g protein

Good for: Believe it or not, regular pasta can have a place in a healthy diet. But it’s refined! you say. True; and it is best to eat most of your grains in their whole form. But when a recipe you’re making calls for other fiber-rich ingredients, like white beans, chickpeas, or lots of vegetables, it’s okay to use regular pasta every now and then. The taste of real, semolina pasta is hard to emulate with a whole grain version, and sometimes you just need that chewy, not-grainy texture. The other time to use regular pasta: when you want that perfect, unadulterated bowl of spaghetti, olive oil, and a pinch of pepper.

Pairs well with: high-fiber foods; olive oil and pepper; tomatoes and basil

Whole wheat pasta

Nutrition (2 oz, 1 cup cooked): 200 calories, 1.5 g fat, 6 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 7 g protein

Good for: Whole wheat pasta brings a healthy serving of fiber to the table, a nutrient that most Americans are lacking in. Fiber boosts satiety, which is especially important in a pasta, as it’s all too easy to down a bowl with three times the appropriate serving size. But it also helps maintain steady blood sugar levels, boosts digestive health, and improves cardiovascular health.

Pairs well with: Hearty, flavorful sauces like pesto; robust tomato sauces like arrabiatta; pasta salads

Spinach Pasta (or other flavored varieties)

Nutrition (2 oz, 1 cup cooked): 200 calories, 1.5 g fat, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 7 g protein

Good for: Flavored varieties of pasta, be it spinach, tomato, or carrot, are good for one thing: presentation. Unfortunately, these vegetable-hued pastas won’t count towards your daily serving of vegetables. If you look on the ingredients list, you’ll see spinach, tomato, or another vegetable listed as one of the last ingredients; that’s because only a few grams of the freeze-dried produce is actually in the pasta. If you’re looking for vegetables, just add a handful of spinach!

Pairs well with: Thin or clear sauces, so that the color shines through. And serve it with a big salad!

Quinoa Pasta

Nutrition (2 oz, 1 cup cooked): 229 calories, 3.7 g fat, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 8 g protein

Good for: Because it’s made from a seed, quinoa pasta hits the trifecta of satiety-boosting nutrients: fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids (don’t let the higher fat content scare you; those are healthy fats!). Quinoa is also gluten free, making this a good option for those with a gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease.

Pairs well with: Anything: quinoa pasta has a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower delicate sauces. Since it offers fiber, you don’t necessarily have to pair it with fiber-rich sides (but vegetables are always a good idea!)

Brown Rice Pasta

Nutrition (2 oz): 190 calories, 3 g fat, 4 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 4 g protein

Good for: Another good gluten free option, brown rice pasta offers both fiber and protein. But since it’s lower in protein than other varieties, it’s a good idea to pair it with protein-rich fare like chicken, shrimp, or beans.

Pairs well with: Brown rice pasta can be stickier and chewier in texture than other varieties, so pair it with thick and chunky sauces.

Shirataki Noodles

Nutrition (4 oz): 20 calories, 0.5 g fat, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 1 g protein

Good for: These Asian noodles are made from the flour of the Konjac yam and are extremely low in calories. They contain a type of fiber called glucomannan, which may help with cholesterol control; because they’re made with little else, they take on the taste of whatever sauce or ingredients they’re paired with (although some people think their smell is off-putting). These noodles are a good choice for those nights when you want to lose yourself in a big bowl of pasta, or if you have trouble with portion control when it comes with pasta.

Pairs well with: Flavorful sauces likes pesto and marinara. And because Shirataki noodles offer very little in the way of nutrition, pair them with lean protein and fiber-rich vegetables. Or, try Asian flavors: use them as the base in a stir-fry with teriyaki sauce or soy sauce.

Spaghetti squash

Nutrition (1 cup, or about 5.5 oz): 42 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 1 g protein

Good for: Low in calories, spaghetti squash is a good vehicle for hearty, flavorful, chunky sauces — the kind where you really only want to taste the sauce and toppings anyway! It’s packed with fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants. Spaghetti squash also works well in recipes that call for higher calorie toppings, like pesto, alfredo, or meatballs; the extra 200 calories from regular pasta won’t put your dinner over the calorie edge.

Pairs well with: Chunky vegetables sauces; sauces with meatballs; alfredo; pesto

Chocolate Chip Cherry Coconut Cookies

These whole wheat cookies are packed with cherries, chocolate chips, and coconut, making them a healthier variation of the traditional and much-loved chocolate chip cookie. Ingredients like whole wheat flour, honey, and applesauce displace some of the cookie’s less healthy ingredients without compromising flavor. Dried cherries, dark chocolate, and flaked coconut give the standard cookie a more complex flavor profile and decrease the amount of sugar necessary. I like my cookies chewy; if you like yours crispier, bake for an extra 3-4 minutes.

Ingredients
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 T honey
⅛ cup butter, softened
⅛ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut, flaked (note flaked, not shredded; bigger pieces of coconut give better flavor and crunch)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. On baking sheet covered in aluminum foil, spread flaked coconut and bake for 5 mintues (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn).
3. Add sugar, honey, butter, and applesauce in a large bowl; beat until blended.
4. Add vanilla and egg; beat.
5. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; add to large bowl and mix at low speed.
6. Add chocolate chips, dried cherries and coconut until just combined.
7. Scoop onto greased cookie pan.
8. Bake for 9 minutes.

Makes about 15 cookies.

Nutritional Information: per cookie: 166 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 2 g protein, 18 g sugar


Why you should eat these:
The average chocolate chip cookie has about 200 calories, but restaurant and deli options can easily pack in 500 or more! And because cookies are essentially empty calories, it’s best if they have as little a caloric impact as possible. These cookies manage to come in under 200 calories, even though they’re packed with chocolate chunks, cherries, and coconut. Another bonus: these same delicious ingredients give the cookie some nutritional redemption. Dark chocolate is packed with flavonols and antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, protect against cardiovascular disease, improves mood, protects skin, and, as new research shows, may help individuals maintain a healthy weight. Cherries are an athlete’s superfood: due to their anti-inflammatory properties, they help reduce muscle soreness following intense exercise. And coconut, made of healthier medium chain fatty acids, may boost metabolism and the immune system. While I wouldn’t recommend depending on dessert for a nutrient and antioxidant boost, it’s certainly an added bonus to a great-tasting cookie.