Saturday, October 4, 2008

How to Eat Pasta On a Diet

I love pasta, but giant plates of white noodles don't usually make the "10 most healthful foods list". Also, most Americans do not eat only a single serving of pasta when they sit down in front of a plate of penne.  So we need to come up with better ways to include pasta as part of a healthy and satisfying diet. Two of the simplest ways to increase the health factor of pasta dishes are to switch to whole wheat and to bulk it up with vegetables.  This dish uses both these tricks to make a yummy and satisfying dish that won't break your resolve to eat better. 

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad
1/4 cup smooth, organic peanut butter
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1/4 cup water (or more coconut milk)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp hoisen sauce
1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti (I used Trader Joe's Flax spaghetti)
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup shredded red bell pepper
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, chopped

Place all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Cook spaghetti in rapidly boiling, salted water until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain, rinse, and set aside to cool while you assemble the remaining ingredients.  

I julienned the cabbages, carrot, and pepper using a mandoline set to 1/8th inch. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add cooled spaghetti and mix until evenly combined. Add sauce and toss until all ingredients are thoroughly coated. Serve immediately or cover and stash in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

This serves 4 (or 2 very hungry individuals). I served it with some steamed, marinated, and sauteed tempeh for extra fiber and protein. The sauce also makes an excellent dipping sauce, just omit the water to make it a little thicker. This recipe is easily multiplied if you're feeding more people, and can be made well in advance of serving time. Just be warned, if you store it for awhile you are going to want let it sit uncovered for a few minutes before you serve it. The cabbage, like other members of the brassica family, smells rather... potent if it is left to sit after being cut (i.e. it smell a lot like ass when you first uncover it).

There is no reason we need to give up our favorite foods when we make a commitment to eat healthfully, we just have to find ways to make them more nutrient dense and eat them in moderation. Whole wheat pasta is a good source of fiber and protein, both of which are stripped from white pasta. Peanut butter is a great source of healthy fats and protein. And the veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. What it equals is a delicious pasta dish that fits in with a healthy lifestyle. Hurray!

This is calculated using regular coconut milk, not lite. Per Serving (1/4 of recipe): 312 Calories; 14g Fat (37.2% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 322mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. Calculated using MasterCook software.


Jen Treehugger said...

Man that looks good!

Bex said...

That does look good. It is so hard to just eat one serving of pasta. It's too tasty.

Bethany said...

yummy! great idea to julienne the veggies so it's like you're having more pasta in the mix w/out it being pasta.

I took a raw foods class recently and they have this thing called a spiralizer where you can put a cucumber, carrot (or similar things) in it and it makes these nice long spirals - just like noodles. and the zuchinni didn't taste bad raw.

Lily Girl said...

Bex: I agree, that's why I made this, because even if you eat one serving of pasta it's two big servings of this dish and I'm totally full!

Bethany: I've seen those spiral slicers, they're pretty neat. And I like zucchini raw, it's kind of bland, but not unpleasantly so. I can see why it's popular as a noddle substitute with the raw community, it wouldn't compete with the flavors of the sauce.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone can go wrong with peanut sauce and noodles. Your version looks delicious!