By: Jennifer Smith, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE-CSS, AFAA-PGEI
Prevention and Wellness
This time of year my garden is in full swing, so I’m always looking for delicious recipes to utilize my fresh produce and add a bit of variety to my meals. With a new baby boy and a new puppy, I’m also looking for quick, easy, tasty, and healthy recipes. This pasta with grape tomatoes meal certainly fits the bill, as I can get it cooked and on the table in less than 15-minutes. Plus, I keep the whole wheat pasta on hand in my pantry and generally the parmesan cheese as well so there’s no need to take a trip to the grocery store either.
While this recipe contains a number of good, wholesome ingredients, like the fiber rich whole grain pasta and the dark leafy green spinach chock-full of vitamins, it does contain parmesan cheese. Despite popular belief, it’s not the carbohydrates (aka pasta in this case) that are fattening but rather consuming excess calories that will result in weight gain, although, that’s a topic for another day. Nonetheless, if you’re watching your weight and looking to cut calories, you may choose to cut back or eliminate the cheese –especially when considering that shredded parmesan cheese is high in sodium and saturated fat. Contrary, it is a good source of phosphorus, protein, and calcium. Not to mention, it’s super tasty in my opinion. Plus, in this recipe by combining the whole-wheat pasta with the cheese, we’re obtaining all the essential amino acids to make a complete protein.
That said, when it comes to food and actually most everything else in life, I strive for balance. When you look at your meals, do they contain a fruit or vegetable, starch, and a protein? All food groups provide different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, which is why variety is so important. Similarly, each macronutrient affects the digestive system differently. For instance, carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth and stomach, so it tends to move into your blood stream faster. While, the digestion of fat is completed in the lower part of the small intestine and is therefore the slowest. The key is to combine foods with the goal of delaying stomach emptying which will make you feel fuller longer. For example, you might add a dab of peanut butter to a crisp apple for a great fall snack.
My rule of thumb is to make every effort to use nutrient-dense ingredients with the idea of moderation –not deprivation. Did your last meal contain a fruit or vegetable, starch, and a protein? If not, how could you alter it?
Jennifer Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine with a concentration in nutrition and a minor in education, a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion and is a nationally certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and speed coach.
Pasta with Grape Tomatoes
1 clove garlic (about 1 tsp minced)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes halved
6-7 basil leaves cut into strips
20-30 baby spinach leaves cut into strips
½ c shredded parmesan cheese
1 box whole-wheat spaghetti
- Cook pasta
- While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic in olive oil over low heat in large skillet, halve tomatoes, and cut basil and spinach into strips.
- Add tomatoes, basil, and spinach strips to skillet for 2-minutes
- Save ½ c. pasta water
- Toss spaghetti and reserved pasta water in skillet
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
- Season with salt and pepper to taste