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Twirl On: Celebrate National Pasta Month with Chef Fabio Viviani

Written on October 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by

Dig in! (Photo by Kate Sears)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Get ready to twirl that fork—it’s National Pasta Month! One of our fave comfort foods has gotten a bad rap over the years due to its heavy carb count and fat-laden toppings, but a single half-cup serving of pasta actually comes in roughly 100 calories—not so bad. It’s naturally low in fat, contains no salt or cholesterol, and serves as a good source of folic acid and iron. In light of all that, we’re here to celebrate National Pasta Month with Top Chef New York’s Fabio Viviani. He dished on his favorite healthy ways to integrate this favorite comfort food into our meals all October long.

When it comes to cooking with pasta, simple is better, says Viviani, and everyone should try making it from scratch at least once—it’s surprisingly easy and tastes far better than its boxed counterpart. Homemade pasta’s simple ingredient list—egg, flour and water—transforms into a simple dinner within minutes. You can even steal Viviani’s own Perfect Pasta recipe here.

“Fettuccini is the easiest pasta to make,” he says. Pulse eggs, flour and water in a food processor with a blade attachment for 45 seconds. Take another two minutes to roll it, and that’s it! “Just spice it up with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. It’s one of the easiest meals and one of the most delicious.”

The real trick when it comes to pasta is portion control. We all know what happens when we sit down to a huge plate full of our favorite farfalle and just dig in. But Chef Viviani has two ways of measuring spaghetti and penne to prevent that oh-so-common carb overload: “The perfect portion of dry spaghetti for an adult is the diameter of a quarter, and for dry penne, a good portion is whatever you can hold in the palm of your hand.”

Here are some other helpful—and healthy—pasta cooking tips from Chef Viviani:

Cook pasta without water. Cook it straight in the sauce from start to finish because it will absorb much more flavor. Plus, you avoid overcooking it.

“Al dente” is easier to digest. Overcooked pasta absorbs way more water, which is why it feels heavy in your stomach and takes the body longer to process.

Adjust those ingredients. For more nutrient-dense pasta, trade one egg yolk for two additional egg whites, and replace white flour with a whole-wheat version. Add water as necessary.

When it comes to the sauce, lose the salt and grab the spices. Chef Viviani likes to use paprika, saffron, black pepper and chili flakes to really zest up the flavor without adding salt or calories.

Avoid oil until the end. Instead of using extra virgin olive oil in the cooking process, add a little drizzle on top of it at the end to reap its nutritional benefits without overdoing it.

Never eat leftover pasta as is. Traditional Italians refuse to reheat and eat leftover pasta the next day because it’s overcooked. Try tossing it into a soup or using it as an ingredient in a new recipe instead.

More from FITNESS:

Easy, Healthy Pasta Recipes

8 Healthy Pasta Sauce Choices

Low-Calorie Pasta Recipes

Carb Up and Help the Hungry on World Pasta Day

Written on October 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm , by

Dinner is served! (Photo courtesy of Barilla)

Yes, you read that title correctly – we love our carbs! FITNESS fully believes in “everything in moderation,” and pasta is no exception. After all, it’s great fuel on the night before our long runs, and it’s also a super simple meal to whip up for dinner.

A new study from Barilla found that nearly 58 percent of parents say their life is more hectic than it was a year ago, and nearly 2 in 5 families find it difficult to find time to prep dinner! To celebrate World Pasta Day (yep, that’s today!) and make dinnertime just a smidge easier on all our busy readers, Barilla shared a simple pasta dish that won’t leave you feeling lethargic, but energized and properly fueled.

Click on the link below for a delicious recipe, and to find out how you can help feed the hungry!

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Save Cash and Calories with a Bowl of Goodness

Written on January 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm , by

Losing weight and saving money are two New Year’s resolutions Americans return to again and again. These are abstract goals, so planning small action steps, say, signing up for a bootcamp class or having $50 from each paycheck directly transfer to savings, can help make these resolutions a reality. Another option to help you reach both of these goals? Visiting Whole Foods…Really!

The natural and organic grocery is launching Bowls of Goodness, a program that teaches you how to make a easy and healthy breakfast for about $2 or a savory and satisfying lunch or dinner for about $4. Simply stock up on a few pantry items, spices and a bit of fresh produce and you’ll have all you need for meals that will keep both your waistline and wallet happy.

A few basics Whole Foods Market recommends keeping on-hand for quick fix recipes:

  • Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, steel-cut oats, whole-wheat pasta
  • Beans: black beans, chickpeas, lentils, white beans
  • Colorful vegetables: avocado, bell pepper, corn, kale, spinach, sweet potato, zucchini
  • Protein: bison, chicken, grass-fed beef, salmon, tofu
  • Milk or non-dairy beverage: almond, hemp, rice, soy
  • Fruit: fresh, frozen or dried
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds
  • Herbs, spices and condiments: basil, cilantro, cinnamon, honey, hot sauce, nutmeg, parsley, oregano, salsa, vanilla

Here are a couple recipes to get you started. And click here for our top 10 budget-friendly grocery items!

Pomegranates are in season now—a smart money-saving move! (Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market)

Spiced Apple Oats 

Serves 3

  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 to 2 apples (depending on size), diced
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Cinnamon to taste
  1. Bring the almond milk to a boil. Stir in the oats.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 20 minutes or until creamy and tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the diced apple and nutmeg.
  4. Serve topped with pomegranate seeds and a dash of cinnamon.

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