Celebrate National Linguini Day, the Healthy Way!
By Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™
There are so many fallacies out there regarding carbohydrates! Don’t even get me started on pasta’s negative reputation. You can thank the low-carb, high-protein diet craze for fueling our seemingly un-ending confusion about carbohydrates—especially pasta, bread, and potatoes—and their supposed negative impacts on our health. But it’s not so much about how much carbs you eat; it’s about the quality of carbs that you eat. Our penchant for lots of refined grains, such as refined wheat flour, is feeding into our nation’s health problems. Evidence links high consumption of refined grains, which are poured into all sorts of products from cereals to breads, with health implications, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Whole grains—intact grains or seeds with an outer bran layer, endosperm layer, and an inner germ layer—not only provide slow-digesting carbohydrates, they are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even protein. Including whole grains in your diet is linked to health promotion, such as weight loss, lower risk of heart disease, and longevity.
When it comes to eating whole grains, including whole grain pasta, keeping portions to a reasonable amount is really the goal. Yet, in today’s world, mastering the art of portion control has proven to be a tricky one. Because we live in a world that tends to glorify the idea that “more is better,” learning to embrace the concept of “just enough” can be a difficult lesson to learn. Take, for instance, the size of the plates in many family-style restaurants today. Many of us have become accustomed to seeing big plates, piled with huge servings, often enough to feed two, three, even four people. In order to support optimal health, it’s all about the quality, not quantity.
Here’s a simple recipe for whole grain pasta made better with tomato products. My dairy-free spin on a “creamy” sauce will be sure to please all members of your household, whether they include dairy in their diet or not! Plus, it packs in a healthy dose of plant-based protein. Enjoy your meal with a simple salad for a balanced, wholesome meal.
Creamy” Tomato Linguini
½ cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup cashews
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup white onion, chopped
2 teaspoon salt-free Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, add diced tomatoes, cashews, water, and tomato paste. Blend until smooth.
- In a large skillet, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
- Add creamy tomato sauce to onion and garlic mixture, and stir until well combined.
- Add seasoning and pepper to sauce. Stir, until well combined.
- Gradually add pasta sauce to cooked pasta until desired amount of creaminess is achieved.
- Serve immediately. Top with basil or plant-based cheese, if desired.
Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ is a writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 850 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today’s Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Blog. Her specific expertise is in plant-based nutrition, including Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets. Her second book, Plant-Powered For Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes is available for purchase now.