Cooking Pasta the Low-Calorie Way
Did you know that Italians who eat a small amount of pasta every day are among the slimmest people on Earth? Pasta is part of the healthy Mediterranean Diet and contributes a good bit of nutrition to their meals. In Italy, it is usually served as the first course at either the midday or evening meal. School children and workers go home for lunch and meals are a social occasion.
Moderation is key. Erase the image of a brimming bowl of pasta, swimming in rich sauce from your mind. We're about to explore the possibilities of including this formerly forbidden food on our plates.
The secret of making pasta part of a low calorie diet is simply a matter of controlling portions. A portion of pasta is 2 ounces or 56 grams dry weight at about 200 calories. If you choose one of the enriched or whole wheat pastas, it will add up to 6 grams of fiber. It's best to make pasta a course or side dish in a balanced meal, or to include vegetables and lean meat or fish in the sauce.
Nutritionally, pasta made from wheat is rich in carbohydrates with a smaller proportion of protein. It provides important B vitamins and 10% of the daily requirement of iron. If you choose the improved pastas this nutritional profile is improved. Don't be afraid to experiment with pasta and noodles made from other grains, such as buckwheat and spelt. Part of the fun of pasta is the choice of many shapes, each with its own texture. To add to our enjoyment, the Italians sometimes label them with descriptive, amusing and affectionate names, such as orichietti, or little ears, and creste di galli, or rooster combs.
With today's recipes, we hope to prove that pasta can be healthful and satisfying without going overboard on portion size. Calorie Count members have entered many wonderful recipes using the Recipe Analyzer. We used the Recipe Browser to select a few of the best, including one with noodles and also a sauce recipe.
- Chicken and Broccoli Bow-tie Pasta
- Paul's Pasta Salad
- Simple Chicken Noodle Soup
- Low Fat Alfredo Sauce
Recipe Analyzer Tips
Here are also a few tips from the FAQ section on how to use the Recipe Analyzer:
Recipes are entered following a few simple rules showed in the yellow box on the recipe pages. The most important rule is to always start with quantity, then follow with unit, and then finally identify the ingredient.
After clicking on "Analyze Recipe," you will find out if we were able to link up your ingredients with items in our food database. This is shown in the lower right corner, and displayed in the form of three flags:
Green flag: ingredient found and sized
Yellow flag: ingredient found, but could not size
Red flag: ingredient not found
In the case of a yellow flag, check your unit and either review its naming/abbreviation, or convert to a different unit. In the case of a red flag, try specifying a more general ingredient or other ones that might have the same nutritional properties. If you cannot get all entries properly identified and sized, you can still submit a partially analyzed recipe for viewing purposes, and then add the missing items manually into your food log in order to account for all nutritional facts.
My own tip would be to make sure that when you enter the ingredient, you name it first. In other words, "Pineapple, Crushed" rather than "Crushed Pineapple." This will make it easier for the Analyzer to locate the item in the database.