September 26, 2017

3 Healthy Sauces for Your Pasta Dishes

Post by Tomas

Pasta is a universal comfort food, and the image of a plate of steaming hot noodles with thick, rich sauce is simply just appetizing. Not surprisingly, many people think that pasta is something to be avoided because of its high carbohydrate content. However, the truth is that pasta can be an ideal meal even for those who are on a strict diet.

The fact is that pasta is considered the healthiest among food made of white flour. Many pastas are often made of ground durum wheat, which is high in protein compared to other flours. Pasta made from this type of wheat is low in glycemic index (GI) and thus won’t spike your blood sugar significantly even if you indulge in it. Pasta satiates your hunger while at the same time provides you with enough energy for the day.

There is also a wide variety of pastas available in the market today, including those made of whole wheat flour for those who would really like to lay off on the carbs. For those who are into a gluten-free diet, there are now gluten-free pasta products that will allow them to enjoy a hearty pasta meal without worrying about allergies.

Pasta made healthy

The key to making pasta dishes healthy is in choosing the right pasta sauce. Aside from choosing the right kind of noodles, the sauce and the ingredients that go into it are what make the dish healthy for you.

However, the way that the pasta is cooked also makes a difference. For instance, there may be ready-made pasta sauces that are made of healthy ingredients, but these products in a can or jar may be loaded with undesirable sodium and other preservatives.

Thus, it would do you good to consider learning how to prepare your own healthy pasta sauces at home. Not only would this save you more money, but it would also help you ensure that only the freshest ingredients are used. You can also better tweak the flavor to your liking better.

Healthy pasta sauce recipes

You would be surprised but pasta sauces in general are very easy to prepare, moreso those that are considered healthy. This is because they usually require very few and easy-to-find ingredients. You can even whip up a simple pasta sauce or dish using just the ingredients readily available in your own kitchen.

Healthy pasta sauces need not be complicated nor expensive. In fact, the tastiest and healthiest sauces require minimal cooking and prep time. You can start with the following easy-to-prepare healthy pasta sauce recipes you can try at home.

Aglio e olio

Aglio e olio pasta is one of the most well-known and classic Italian pasta recipes, and rightfully so because it is very easy to prepare yet very sumptuous and delicious. Tradition has it that Italian mothers readily whip this dish up when their families crave for good old pasta on the table.

“Aglio e olio” literally means “garlic and oil,” and it gives you a good idea of how simple yet flavorful such a sauce is. Of course, the oil here pertains to olive oil, which is one of the healthiest types of oil for you. Here is a quick recipe that you can follow:

INGREDIENTS
6 cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced

½ cup olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped parsley

¼ teaspoon chili flakes (to taste)

Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Cook spaghetti al dente as you would and transfer into a pasta bowl. In a saucepan, sautee the garlic in olive oil and cook over medium heat until the garlic turns golden. Reduce the heat as the oil begins to bubble and continue to cook the garlic until toasted. Pour the mixture onto the pasta, and add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Also add the cheese and parsley for a little bit of color. Toss and stir.
 

Basil pesto sauce

Another well-known pasta sauce is pesto, which is usually made from fresh herbs such as basil. Its base also uses generous amounts of olive oil, which is good for the heart so you don’t need to worry about consuming a lot of it.

The good thing about pesto sauce is that it is very versatile. Not only can you mix it with pasta, but you can also spread it on toasted bread or you can even marinate fish or chicken with it. It’s a great idea to cook up a batch of pesto sauce and keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator. You can use it for a quick meal any time.

INGREDIENTS
1 large bunch of fresh basil

30g pine nuts (you can also use other types of nuts such as cashew)

2-3 crushed garlic cloves

½ tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Pick the leaves off the basil stems and throw it in a blender or food processor along with nuts, garlic, lemon juice and cheese. While pulsing the food processor, slowly add in the olive oil until all the ingredients are well-mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato pasta sauce

Pure tomato sauce for pasta is another Italian classic. There are many variations to this recipe, which changes according to taste, but the basic ingredients and approach remains the same. It is an extremely healthy type of pasta sauce mainly because of the tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene.

Lycopene has been found to be an effective anti-oxidant, which can help fight cancer. It is usually found in red foods such as carrots, watermelon and papaya but surprisingly, it can also be found in vegetables such as asparagus and parsley. Absorption of lycopene in the human body is enhanced by the presence of fat and through cooking, so it’s great news to include in your diet.

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped or diced
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
300g diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
Salt and ground pepper (to taste)
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped parsley

In a saucepan, heat the oil and saute the garlic and onions until soft. Next, add the tomato paste and oregano and cook for a few more minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture constantly. Then, add the tomatoes and then reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until thick. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the fresh basil and parsley once the mixture is off the heat.

Transfer the mixture into a food processor and blender in order to achieve a smooth consistency. Alternatively, if you prefer a chunkier sauce, blend just a small portion (around a half or a third of the mixture) and stir it back in the original mixture.

Pasta perfection

These healthy pasta sauce recipes are just among the simplest and most basic to prepare. Feel free to experiment to your liking, and add healthy protein for a more filling meal. You can opt to add in lean meat such as chicken breast, or seafood such as fish, shrimp or scallops.

The possibilities for healthy pasta are endless! Just make sure you use the right, healthy ingredients and you prepare the dish in a healthy manner. Enjoying a hearty meal such as pasta need not mean extra pounds or calories.