No matter what type of athlete you are, pasta is probably a constant in your diet. But choosing the right type of pasta is key to getting the nutrients you want and need. It’s tricky because often words like multi-grain are used on the packaging but when you look at the first ingredient it says refined grain. In order to be worthy of being whole-wheat, the first ingredient has to have the word “whole” in it. Whole-grain pastas provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will power you through your next run. Thanks to production improvements over the past several years, you now have several options that are whole-grain, nutrient-packed pasta.
As the name suggests, this pasta is made from ground up brown rice, instead of wheat, making it gluten-free. Two-ounces will provide you with four grams of fiber, mostly coming from insoluble fiber. This type of fiber does not break down in the digestive track and helps remove waste from the digestive system. A serving of this pasta will also provide you with four grams of protein, helping you stay full longer. This healthy pasta will adapt perfectly into any of your favorite pasta recipes.
Einkorn what? It’s a new addition to the noodle market and is made from one of the oldest forms of cultivated wheat, einkorn. Since einkorn is not processed through with other carbohydrates, it’s nutritional value is higher than other whole-grains. Einkorn is high in thiamin and Lutein, both antioxidants that help protect the body from damage. As other whole-grains it offers a good source of fiber and protein. The taste is hearty and has a real depth of flavor.
Another option for those who are going gluten free since this noodle is made from buckwheat, which is actually not wheat. Soba is packed full of eight essential amino acids. The special thing about soba noodles that sets it apart from whole wheat noodles is it contains lysine, which is an essential nutrient that your body cannot synthesize on its own. Soba also contains polysaccharide and other antioxidants. Soba noodles are as thick as spaghetti and can be eaten hot or cold in a variety of dishes.
Native to South America, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse with ample amounts of manganese. This mineral is essential for metabolism and for maintaining bone-mineral density. Since quinoa contains both proteins, lysine and isoleucine, it’s considered a complete protein source. The other great thing about quinoa is it is practically fat-free but the fat that it does have in it comes from monounsaturated fat, which is a healthy fat. Being gluten free anyone can enjoy this pasta.
Half the battle with pasta is the sauce that you put on it. Forego the fat and enjoy the healthy nutrients that you get from any of these recipes.
In a food-processor, combine 1 pound of plum tomatoes, 4 garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Add oregano, salt and pepper to your taste and process until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in 3 TB of olive oil. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until thickened.
This twist on your original pesto adds in pumpkin and cilantro. Place 2 cups cilantro, 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, 1/3 cup parmesan, 2 garlic cloves, ½ lemon, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor until coarsely minced. Pour in ¼ cup olive oil and process until well-combined.
Creamy Cashew Mushroom-
One of my favorite two food items, cashews and mushrooms added together in this healthy sauce. Place 1 cup unsalted cashews in a bowl and cover with water and soak for 2 hours. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a pan and add 1 chopped onion, 3 cups sliced mushrooms, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and salt and pepper. Cook for 7 minutes. Add to a blender with 1 cup low-fat milk and drained cashews. Blend until smooth.