The new year is time to rethink our food choices and figure ways to make everyday meals healthier, even within our hectic lifestyles. A few healthy mealtime “hacks” can transform everyday foods into appealing, nutritious pasta meals – perhaps without mealtime hassle! What’s a hack? It’s simply a quick, creative solution for daily dilemmas.
1. Lower mealtime calories with a smaller plate. A sensible portion looks like more on a smaller plate. One cup of cooked pasta at a single meal gets you about a third of the way to your day’s goal for grain foods. (Two plus cups of cooked pasta is more than enough.)
2. Right size the pasta sauce. As a quick rule-of-thumb, figure 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce per 12 ounce box of dry pasta. (Example: Spaghetti with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce) That’s enough to toss with cooked pasta without overwhelming it – and still enjoy the savory flavors of the sauce.
3. Pump the plant-based protein. To help get the optimal protein in your day (and boost fiber at the same time) toss canned black, kidney, or cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) in Penne Primavera or another pasta dish. Stay “at the ready” with a can or two of beans in your pantry. (Tip: 1/2 cup beans adds 8 grams of protein; a serving of Dreamfields pasta adds another 7 grams of protein!)
4. Sneak veggies into your mac and cheese. Since ingredient portions don’t need to be precise, any pasta cut is a perfect partner for extra vegetables, whether they’re fresh, canned, frozen, or leftover. Add kale, sun-dried tomatoes, colorful bell peppers, or other veggies to your favorite mac and cheese recipe. If you prefer using a recipe, try Kale and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese for starters.
5. Bone up on dairy. In pasta dishes with a creamy sauce, use evaporated milk instead of cream. You get more calcium for fewer calories and saturated fat. Give it a try by serving Dreamfields Healthy Alfredo Pasta.
6. Boost the favor, not the salt (sodium). Make pasta dishes more herb-licous with savory, fresh herbs instead. Add herbs toward the end of cooking so their flavor isn’t cooked out. As an example: the fresh sage added just before serving Butternut Squash & Linguine.
7. Fiber up with no extra effort. Prepare your meal with your favorite cut of Dreamfields pasta. Every label serving (2-ounce dry) adds 5 grams of fiber. Or click to one of Dreamfields many veggie-licious recipes that deliver fiber; Penne with Roasted Eggplant & Savory Mushroom Ragu has 12 grams of fiber per serving! (Fiber advice per day is 25 grams daily for women, and 38 for men.)
8. Partner fish with pasta to boost healthy fats. Salmon, tuna and mackerel are great sources of omega-3s, with their heart health benefits. Use them in pasta dishes that call for seafood; canned options are great for convenience. And try Penne and Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad when you have a bit more time.
Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more food hacks, grounded in great nutrition!
Photos source: Pixabay and Dreamfields Foods
Tags: healthy hacks