Ever felt just a little bit guilty after a heavy pasta meal?
We all love pasta (what’s not to love?). And yet, there's just a teensy little feeling of lost health opportunities when you’re bloated after a meal of Alfredo.
Should we give up pasta, even if we love it so much? This is a joke, of course. There are plenty of healthy pasta options you can try without feeling guilty about your health choices.
More often than not, you’re looking for a whole-grain pasta option with a healthy dose of protein and fibre.
So how can you make your pasta healthier? Here are five ways you can go about it.
#1: Moderate cheese
Okay, this is not a very attractive point to begin with. Cheese is the lifeblood of any given pasta meal. Moderating cheese takes away all the fun of having pasta in the first place.
And yet, moderating cheese is the easiest way to make your pasta healthy and light. The good news is that there is a way to enjoy cheese in your pasta, while not giving up on it entirely.
So how do you start? Choosing a skim cheese option instead of whole milk mozzarella is a good place to start. It is also a good idea to let go of parmesan and instead choose a fat free alternative. This is a smart way to cut back on saturated fats that can make your pasta meals more bloated than they need to be.
Cheese options like feta, ricotta, and part-skim mozzarella are low on saturated fats. You can thus consider using them as a cheese option for a healthy pasta meal.
Another way to moderate cheese is to use a cheese alternative.
Instead of making your pasta in creamy Alfredo sauce, you can use cashew sauces instead. That is yet another way to make your pasta healthier and lighter.
#2: Pack your healthy pasta with veggies and proteins
The great thing about pasta is that it can be balanced with high fibre add-ons to make the overall meal healthier.
On one side you have your cheese and sauce, while on the other, you can load up on proteins and fibres.
In a pasta meal, there are often complaints about a seemingly endless amount of pasta and cheese. This is typically because there’s a lack of fibre and nutrients in the meal.
You can easily solve this problem by loading up your pasta meal with a bunch of veggies and protein options. Doing this will enhance your pasta’s fibre content and make the meal seem less one-dimensional.
You can also try out a few healthier options in the form of sauces that are not just healthy, but also packed with the Italian goodness. Next time you decide to make pasta, try making basil pesto pasta, and even artichoke and walnut pesto pasta doesn’t sound so bad either!
Combining the nutritious and fatty parts of your pasta adds depth to your meal and makes it more wholesome. It also makes your meal more filling, and doesn’t require you to use too much sauce and cheese.
Another way to make your meal nutritious is using unsaturated oil. Olive oil is a great base for a pasta meal, making it much healthier.
#3: Think about pasta alternatives
Generally, we think of risotto pasta and immediately go to two main options: refined and whole wheat.
There are however healthier alternatives to both these pasta options. You can choose pasta types which are much higher in protein content, and have less calories.
What pasta types can you choose? Besides refined and whole wheat, you can choose alternatives like chickpea, quinoa, red lentil, edamame, and more. These options have high protein and fibre content, and make your overall meal much healthier.
These pasta alternatives add more variety to your diet. Instead of sticking to tried and tested refined and whole-wheat options, you can make your diet more full of nutrients and fibre content.
#4: Don’t overcook your pasta
One of the easy ways of making your pasta less bloated is making sure it is cooked for the right amount of time.
Overcooked pasta essentially leads to the starch component absorbing too much water. This leads to all the nutrients being released in the cooking water. Your pasta meal thus loses a lot of its nutrient value and becomes a watery mess.
Your pasta is healthiest when you follow the prescribed cooking time. Even undercooking can cause metabolism issues. If you follow the al dente technique to make pasta, your meal’s folate content will decline which can cause digestion and metabolism problems.
The solution is to stick to the prescribed cooking time guidelines. Don’t overcook or undercook your pasta to make sure it is served in the healthiest form possible.