Shannon Center Weekly Nutrition Tip – Happy Pasta Day!
Pasta has been getting a bad reputation the past few years ever since the diet fads of Atkins, Paleo and Gluten Free have swept the nation. But can pasta…gasp…be healthy? Yes of course! Pasta (in moderation) can be high in fiber and a great source of energy.
Pasta is a great week night menu option because it's cheap and it's quick, which are two things I love for weeknight dinners! Below are some ways to whip up a quick, healthy pasta meal:
- Pasta: Whole grain pasta (I like Barillas Plus, Ronzoni among others. There are vegetable pastas now, gluten free options, etc.);
- Sauce: Jar of pasta sauce (Aim to buy the one with the least amount of sugar or use sauce recipe below);
- Veggie side: I often add broccoli to my pasta but adding a side salad or fresh green beans works too;
- Meat: Go meatless for a cheaper meal, or add ground sirloin or turkey meat to sauce, or Jenny O Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (I brown it the night before with some green peppers and onions for a quicker meal the next day after work).
One pot recipes are perfect for week nights. Less clean up and they are delish! Here is one I found that my whole family enjoyed:
One Pan Lemon Chicken Pasta with Tomatoes – Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 1 pound chicken breasts (can omit if wanted);
- 2 Tbsp olive oil;
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion;
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic;
- 8 oz. (about 2 1/2 cups) small, dry pasta;
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved;
- 2 cups chicken broth;
- Juice from one large or two small lemons;
- 1 cup water;
- 1 tsp. dried basil;
- 1 tsp. salt;
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy foods);
- 1/2 tsp. pepper;
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat;
- Add onion and stir, cooking until soft and nearly translucent;
- Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds;
- Add chicken and cook until just browned;
- Stir in the pasta, tomatoes, chicken broth, lemon juice, water, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper;
- Bring to a boil and continue to stir often, uncovered, for about nine minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated;
- Remove from heat, sprinkle cheese on top, and cover for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and remaining liquid is absorbed.
Fresh Pasta Sauce:
- 8 pounds tomatoes, seeded and diced;
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil;
- 1 large onion, minced;
- 3 cloves garlic, minced;
- 1/2 cup olive oil;
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- In large saucepan, cook tomatoes and basil over medium-low heat until tomatoes are soft;
- Meanwhile, in medium skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent;
- Add onion mixture to tomato mixture and add salt and pepper. Let simmer on low heat for two hours or until thick (halve the recipe if you don't need as much or jar the leftovers).
Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, CPT
Shannon Center Nutrition Consultant
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