What’s not to love about pasta? For parents, it is quick, easy, inexpensive and delicious. For kids, pasta is just plain fun! Plus it’s healthy too — naturally low in sodium and cholesterol-free, it makes the perfect foundation for pairing with good-for-you foods like nutrient-rich vegetables, fiber-filled beans, heart-healthy monounsaturated oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed cheeses. What’s more, pasta is an easy dish parents and children can prepare together by allowing kids to select their own healthy food partners, pasta shapes and sauces.
Pasta Fits Registered Dietitian Diane Welland offers the following tips for creating delectable pasta meals to satisfy the whole family:
Create with Color: Pasta is an excellent base for a healthy meal and an easy way to boost your vitamin intake, as it can be paired with a multitude of fruits and vegetables. Consider these nutritional powerhouses: dark leafy greens like spinach and kale packed with healthy vitamins such as vitamin K and folate; orange vegetables like carrots and butternut squash full of vitamin C and beta carotene; red vegetables like red peppers and tomatoes, high in vitamins A and C.
Reinvent a Classic: Taking a new twist on an old classic is a great way to offer something new without straying too far from family favorites. It’s also the perfect way to introduce new vegetables or flavor profiles to kids. For example, jazz up your mac and cheese by adding seasonal ingredients—like pumpkin! Simply stir the pumpkin into the béchamel or melted cheese and you’ll have a piping hot bowl of yummy fall comfort food.
Change up the Shape: Look for interesting shapes and try substituting them in classic dishes. For example, use alphabet or orzo in place of plain old elbow macaroni in soup, try orecchiette or tortellini instead of penne pasta or cook up bucatini (long, tubular pasta) as a substitute for spaghetti. Keep shapes somewhat similar (small pasta with small pasta etc.) and think of the type of sauce you are serving. Not sure which pasta shape works best in your dish? You can find pairing suggestions in the Pasta Fits Pasta Dictionary.
For recipes, ideas, tips and nutrition facts, visit our friends at Pasta Fits.