nutrition notes

Lighter Pasta Offerings

Way Beyond WHEAT


Traditionally, pasta is made from an unleavened dough of durum wheat flour mixed with water (or eggs, for egg noodles) and formed into a shape. Today’s pasta, however, goes way beyond standard wheat noodles. For starters, there are non-wheat whole grain varieties, like corn, brown rice, quinoa or a blend of these grains, which appeal to those following a gluten-free or wheat-free diet. There are also popular veggie-based pastas that tend to be as, or even more, nutritious than wheat-based varieties. Spiral veggie slicers quickly turn zucchini, squash, beets, jicama, cucumbers, carrots or sweet potatoes into a gourmet spaghetti or fettuccini, just begging to be topped with seafood and a flavorful sauce.

Try incorporating some of these comfort dish makeovers this fall:

  • Rice noodles with teriyaki salmon
  • Cucumber and carrot pad thai with lump crab meat
  • Quinoa elbow mac & cheese with smoked trout
  • Spaghetti squash with tuna, tomatoes and capers

Bulk Up Your Noodles

shutterstock_316258259Whether you fill your bowl with wheat penne, whole grain wheat-free fusilli or veggie-based spaghetti, add a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits to bulk up and enhance both the visual appeal and the taste of your pasta dishes.

The idea of “Volumetrics” was created by a nutrition professor at Penn State University as an approach to eating. Adding lowdensity foods high in water content—like colorful bell peppers and squashes, red onions, deep green collard greens or kale, bright green broccoli, orange carrots and red tomatoes—to your pasta dishes will help to reduce calories, increase fullness and “up” the amount of fiber, potassium, antioxidants and vitamins. “Volumizing” your menu offerings will appeal to customers trying to lose weight, manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increase vegetable intake and eat a more healthful diet.


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