Pasta: pretty, pleasing, and healthy?

by Carmen Visser

Pasta: quick and easy to make at home, scrumptious to eat at a fancy restaurant.

Pasta has been around for centuries and little has changed in the flour, water and eggs recipe. However, because pasta is so ancient, pinpointing its exact origin is tricky. Some believe that pasta was brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo and some say that spaghetti descended from noodles. Others argue that pasta dishes were already being prepared by the Romans and Greeks by the time Polo visited Italy. Some even argue that Arabians were first to bring pasta to Italy.

While there is great debate on the above ideas, a concrete fact is that the Arabians were first to document dry pasta. Unlike fresh pasta that should be mixed, cooked and eaten straight away, dry pasta has an incredibly long shelf-life. Many households keep pasta in their pantries and cook it in boiling water when preparing a pasta dish.

While the origin of pasta is still slightly unclear, we know for certain that it spread to America and became an icon in the media. Since then, it has spread worldwide and is a loved dish by many. It’s personally one of my favourites! I can eat pasta for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between.

Image sourced from Rotten Tomatoes.

Pasta can be found in many different shapes. While there are over 300 kinds of pasta, here are the main ones:

  • Gnocchi

  • Linguine

  • Bucatini

  • Tagliatelle

  • Pappardelle

  • Cavatelli

  • Penne

  • Tortellini

  • Ravioli

  • Macaroni

  • Fettucine

  • Farfalle

  • Lasagne

  • Rigatoni

  • Orecchiette

  • Spaghetti

Alongside all the different shapes, pasta dishes can also be distinctively different due to their other ingredients. Herbs, vegetables, sauce, cheese and meat can all be added to pasta dishes. Some of the most popular pasta dishes include Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagne, Alfredo, Macaroni Cheese, Penne Carbonara and several Pesto’s.

Image by Heather Gill on Unsplash.

As pasta can be made in so many different ways, including dishes safe for vegetarians and vegans, it’s no surprise that pasta is one of the most popular dishes in the world. However, the high gluten levels and high carbohydrates found in pasta might leave some people wondering how healthy the delicious ingredient is.

This may come as a shock but pasta is actually considered a balanced and nutritious meal.

YES! PASTA IS HEALTHY. A study done by The Lancet Public Health found that people had longer life expectancies by consuming moderate amounts of carbohydrates. Furthermore, pasta made from wheat has high amounts of protein and iron.

Image by Sorin Popa on Unsplash.

If you’re still not convinced, here are a few tips on how to make your pasta dish healthier. Healthline argues that adding protein and vegetables are a great way to bump up the nutritious value of your pasta dish. Fats such as small amounts of olive oil and spices are also beneficial to your body. Moreover, if drinking is your thing, adding a glass of white wine to your Mediterranean style meal is encouraged too.

On that note, there are many advantages and disadvantages of a Mediterranean style diet. The pros include saving the earth by eating more plants, a lower risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes as well as improved memory. The only disadvantage? Saying goodbye to your red meat and red wine.

Another easy way to make your pasta dishes healthier is to use homemade fresh pasta. It’s easier than you think! Here is a quick and easy homemade pasta recipe made with only flour and eggs! Vegan? Swap the eggs for olive oil and water. Once you’ve kneaded and cooked your pasta, there are countless ingredients to add. As I’m sure that your mouth is watering by now, I’ve created a list of some simple recipes below:

Chicken Pasta Bake

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Fettucine Alfredo

Creamy Sundried Tomato Pasta

Tuna Pasta Bake


Image by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash.

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