Growing up, there was always a fifty-fifty shot that “macaroni” (as my parents like to call it) would be on the dinner menu.
We easily had pasta three times a week.
Spaghetti and Meatballs, Linguini and Clam Sauce, Pasta Fagioli, Cheese Raviolis, Lasagna, and Fusilli with Meat Sauce were just some of our childhood staples.
And as a mother who wants to get a simple meal on the table rather quickly, I get it. Pasta is a fast, easy, and delicious solution for busy, weeknight dinners, but how can we ensure that that we are not sitting down to a nutritionally void meal?
It’s actually very easy.
Here are my 5-top ways to bulk up the nutritional value of your pasta dish:
1. Use a whole wheat or whole grain pasta
This is by far one of the easiest ways to bump up your pasta’s nutritional profile. By choosing a whole wheat or whole grain pasta (even a whole grain blend) you automatically increase the protein and the fiber content which in and of itself creates a more nutritious and balanced meal.
2. Cook your pasta al dente
It takes our bodies a longer time to break down and digest al dente pasta which results in more stable blood sugar levels (this is a good thing). If you are still not ready to give up your white pasta then this just may be your saving grace!
3. Add some form of protein
I know, I know, I’ve talked about this a thousand times but that’s because it is important! Again, you add more nutrients and balance out the meal so you don’t end up with blood sugar that resembles The Six Flags “Steamin’ Demon”. And this doesn’t mean you have to add meat. You can bulk up the protein by including beans, tossing in some nuts, or stirring in a little cheese.
4. Veggies, Veggies, Veggies!!!
Need I say more? I try to make my plate more veggies than pasta – this is an easy way to ensure that you are not over doing the pasta serving size, too!
5. Skip the take-out and make it yourself
It’s true. The more love that goes into a dish, the more nutritious it will be. Taking the time to make your food will always result in a more nutritious meal. Wanna double the dose of home-made nutrition?? Cook with someone you love (or at the very least, someone you like a lot 🙂
For those of you who have been reading for a while, you know this is a topic I have covered before both here and here. I can’t help myself… pasta is just one of those things that gets SO much slack and I really want to show you guys that it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. We really can find ways to make pasta a part of a clean and delicious lifestyle!
Hope you guys enjoy this one! If you have any questions regarding the recipe, feel free to ask.
Golden Beet & Beet Greens Pasta W/ Ricotta and Feta Cheese
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1hour 15 minutes
- 1 bunch of golden beets with the greens attached
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½ of a medium onion
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces of whole grain spaghetti
- ¼ cup part skim ricotta cheese
- A handful of fresh chopped basil
- 2 tbsp feta cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pre heat oven to 400.
Remove the beets greens from the beets and give both a really good rinse.
Place the beets on a rimmed baking sheet and pop them right into the oven. They will take any where from 25-45 minutes to cook, depending on their size. Ultimately you want to be able to easily pierce them with a fork.
Once the beets have cooked and cooled a bit, you can rub the skins right off and cut them into small bite sized pieces.
Stem the greens, and cut them into thin ribbons.
Cook your pasta according to the package and be sure to reserve some of the pasta water.
Heat the oil in large non-stick sauté over a medium high heat. Add in the onions and garlic and cook for about five minutes until the onions are translucent. Add in the beet greens and season with some salt and pepper. If you need a little extra liquid, stir in some of the pasta water.
Once the greens have wilted, stir in the chopped beets, fresh basil, pasta, and ricotta cheese. Gently mix until everything is combined and the cheese has coated all the pasta. Adjust your seasonings.
Plate into two big bowls and top each with a tablespoon of feta cheese. Enjoy!
Nutrients per 1/2 recipe: Calories: 395; Total Fat: 11.3g; Saturated Fat: 3.9g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 442mg; Carbohydrate: 61.9g; Dietary Fiber: 10.9g; Sugars: 14.9g; Protein: 15.9g