Hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! As for me, I got a really important procedure done (will let you know about it in two weeks) and had to lie down all day Monday. While I longed to be one with the couch after last week’s orientation, after about 3 hours, it began to feel like torture. Goes to show, I can’t be a couch potato for too long. 🙂
A little while back, I was contacted about a possibility of having a guest post on my blog, to which I happily obliged. I’m so delighted to introduce you to Meredith. She resides in Chicago and writes food, recipe, and nutrition articles on behalf of Ready Set Eat. I thank her for introducing me to the website filled with quick and easy dinner recipes and ideas. The layout is sleek and simple to navigate through. The site has a nifty recipe finder that searches for recipes based on your needs – are you looking for an entree, a side, or a dessert? how much time do you have? what kind of protein do you have on hand? no meat?…they’ve got that covered too. And if that feature alone wasn’t helpful enough, it also offers cooking tips/shortcuts, coupons/offers, and a section devoted to healthier eating. As a dietetic student, working with no pay four days a week in addition to taking 2 grad courses, anything with the words “quick, easy, and healthy” sounds like music to my ears.
So take it away, Meredith!
From a nutritional perspective, pasta dishes don’t always get the best rap. A lot of the time, pasta’s unhealthy reputation is justified; most restaurants’ pasta dishes are coated with excessive amounts of heavy cream, cheese and salt and can be topped with breaded chicken, high-fat meatballs or sausage. But pasta dishes are popular for a reason; they’re delicious! To enjoy your favorite pasta-based meals without going overboard in the unhealthy department or losing out on taste, use the following tips to lighten up your favorite easy recipes for dinner:
- When it comes to sauces, skip the cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream and butter-heavy recipes. If you’re making a cream sauce, Greek yogurt or half-and-half is a lighter way to get that creamy texture you crave. Stick to tomato or olive oil based sauces for the most nutritional benefits.
- What cheese you choose can make a major difference in a dish’s nutritional content. Parmesan, Romano, and part skimmed mozzarella cheese are naturally low in fat, making them great pasta options. Feta is also a healthier option and because its flavor is so strong, you don’t need to use too much of it. You can also try substituting cottage cheese for ricotta cheese for lower saturated fat.
- If you’re making a meat sauce, meatballs or adding sausage to a pasta dish, try and use leaner meats whenever possible. There are dozens of lean sausage varieties out there, such as chicken and turkey sausage, and lean ground beef, lean ground chicken or lean ground turkey can all be formed into delicious meatballs.
- Add produce to your pasta whenever possible. Almost any vegetable tastes great sautéed in a little bit of olive oil and mixed in with spaghetti, orzo or couscous. Roasting vegetables in the oven with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper is another tasty way to incorporate some healthy vitamins into your dishes.
This bruschetta couscous salad is a great example of a pasta dish that’s delicious without being heavy, high-fat or excessively caloric. With diced tomatoes, tangy parmesan and a light dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil and fresh herbs, this is one pasta dish you’ll feel good about eating.
- 1 14.5 oz. can Hunt’s® Petite Diced Tomatoes undrained
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup plain couscous uncooked
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Combine undrained tomatoes, water, oil, basil, onion, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff mixture with a fork, sprinkle with cheese and serve.
What are some of your go-to healthy swaps?
Other healthier pasta dishes: