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Healthy pasta recipes

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Whole wheat pasta for Sunday dinner

Sunday dinner in my family is always pasta, so to make it healthy, I choose whole wheat pasta. There are a huge variety of whole wheat-style pastas available now and, when combined with loads of veggies and fresh sauce, you get a can’t miss Sunday night dinner.

Whole wheat pasta

Benefits of whole wheat pasta

Whole wheat pasta is generally better for you than white pasta because it is higher in fiber and has more protein. Whole wheat pasta also generally has more vitamins and minerals that are lost in the refining of white pasta.

One of the best benefits, however, is that whole wheat pasta has a lower glycemic index than white pasta, which keeps your blood sugar level lower. The fat and calories in pasta is fairy low, too (if you eat the correct portion size), so switching to whole wheat pasta will add nutritional benefits—just be sure to watch your portion size because that is how the fat and calories add up.

Taste and texture

Some people may have a difficult time getting used to the different taste and texture of whole wheat pasta; some think it is a little chewy and has a heartier taste. Once you combine the pasta with the sauce, though, you will hardly notice a difference.

In order to avoid chewy pasta, be sure to cook for the correct amount of time (read instructions on the box) because whole wheat pasta will have a slightly longer cooking time than white pasta. Also, because whole wheat pasta is heartier and more filling, you will tend to eat less.

Sauce and add-ins

When using whole wheat pasta, you should use a lighter sauce because the pasta itself is pretty hearty. A tomato sauce always works great, or even a light cream sauce. One of my favorites is a garlic and oil sauce or balsamic vinegar and oil sauce. To keep the sauce light, be sure to mix in just a bit of pasta water to loosen it up.

For added healthy goodness, mix in any kind of steamed veggie you like. Go seasonal and add asparagus or tomatoes in the summer and pumpkin or butternut squash in winter. Of course you can mix in meat, seafood or cheese, too.

Grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp, or fresh mozzarella are delicious options. Whatever you like to add to your pasta, be sure to mix it in with a lot of vegetables. You can also add fresh herbs and spices for added flavor and no fat or calories.

Up next: Pasta night recipes >>

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