Hi RMA’s! Who loves pasta? I definitely do! Poor old pasta cops a bit of slack these days with more people cutting back on wheat, gluten and processed foods than ever – all of which are characteristic of pasta. But is pasta really the enemy?
Pasta is made from durum wheat. White pasta is refined, meaning the wheat bran and germ are removed during processing. By doing this, a lot of the micronutrients are lost and you are left with a variety of pasta which is lower in fibre and micronutrients and higher in carbohydrate than its whole wheat counterpart. Interestingly however, refined pastas can be enriched with nutrients such as iron and B vitamins and despite the lower fibre content, has a low to medium glycemic index (GI). So if eating in a moderateportion, will not cause a huge spike in blood sugar levels. The trick is moderating your portion… If you consider that just 1 cup of cooked, refined pasta contains 43 g carbohydrate, you can see it is quite easy to overload on pasta.
Eating a large amount of wheat and refined grains including breads and pasta can have an inflammatory effect on the body, something which athletes would want to steer clear of. However this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bowl every once in a while.
So can you enjoy your pasta, guilt-free? Of course! The trick is to balance it with lots of vegetables and some lean protein. But also consider some of the many alternatives to refined pasta on the market which are just as satisfying without the highly refined wheat content. Whole grain spelt pasta, pulse pasta and even brown rice pasta are just a few options.
Whole grain spelt pasta is the one I used in this recipe. Spelt is an ancient grain and although it is not gluten free, it is wheat free and more tolerable for people who have wheat or gluten sensitivities. Just like wheat pasta you can get refined spelt or whole grain spelt pasta, so ensure you get the less refined option. It is higher in protein and fibre compared to white pasta, so a little goes a long way. I was super full after this meal and will definitely be reducing my portion size next time.
My tips to enjoy pasta:
- Balance the meal with plenty of vegetables and some lean protein
- Choose whole grain options which are higher in fibre
- Try wheat-free options such as spelt, pulse and brown rice pastas
Salmon, feta & greens chilli pasta
4 serves (we made this recipe for 3, but was far too filling)
- 250g packet spelt pasta
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- ½ head broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 small zucchini, diced into small pieces
- 3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 100 g reduced fat feta, chopped into small cubes
- 200 g smoked salmon, flaked into small pieces
- Juice from ½ lemon
- Cook pasta in boiling water, according to packet directions
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add broccoli, zucchini, garlic, chilli and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add a dash of water to avoid burning and to soften vegetables, and continue to cook for a further few minutes until just tender.
- Once pasta is cooked, drain and return to pan. Add the cooked vegetables, extra oil, feta, salmon and lemon and mix through over a low heat.
- Once all ingredients have warmed, serve in bowls.
For more tips and advice head over to The Running Dietian here.