In my twenties I lived on pasta, it is inexpensive, filling and tastes awesome with cheese and butter. I can remember saying ‘I can’t live without pasta’ and ‘I love pasta SO MUCH’. I ate some form of pasta, spaghetti with sauce, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, pasta salad, et cetera, et cetera every single day.
Pasta as most of us eat it is typically in heaping bowls that contain 3-4 servings that can add up to 420-560 Calories and that’s before any sauce or added cheese. Pasta as most of us eat it is a highly processed product, even whole wheat pasta has been processed, heated, and extruded, all processes that deplete nutrition. Pasta is not a nutrient dense food which means for the amount of Calories there are very few vitamins and minerals.
Since pasta is high in Calories and low in nutrients, it is common to eat a lot of it and yet your body is craving more food. Your body is seeking out nutrition. When I finally put my mind to losing weight once and for all, I looked closely at what I was eating that was highest in Calories and where I could cut back. Pasta stuck out like a sore thumb.
I am usually very kind and gentle with myself, no extreme dieting, and absolutely no cutting out foods that I love cold-turkey, therefore I started to move away from the pasta I loved so much by making small incremental changes to my diet. In this way, I allowed some pasta and decreased it slowly allowing my body and tastes to adjust over time. Today, a few years after making these changes, I rarely eat any pasta and best of all I don’t even miss it. And even better than that, I was able to lose the weight and keep it off.
There are a few tricks that can be used in making the change from a high carbohydrate (pasta, potato, rice) diet to a diet rich in vegetables (nutrients), protein and whole grains:
- To start, cook half the amount of pasta
- Add plenty of vegetables
- Zucchini julienned into long spaghetti-like strips will trick the eye and the belly
- Cooked cauliflower mixed in with rice, mashed potatoes or couscous, cuts Calories in half, adds nutrition, and water making you feel full faster and longer
Bacon Spinach Pasta is a delicious, nutritious, stepping stone for decreasing processed, refined grains and cereals from your diet.
BACON SPINACH PASTA
1 oz. spaghetti
2 small or 1 large zucchini
3 strips bacon
6 medium mushrooms, any variety, sliced
11 oz. baby spinach
½ red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pinches each crushed red pepper, dried thyme, oregano, and basil
1 cup garbanzo beans
Salt and pepper
Boil water for spaghetti, add the pasta to boiling water and cook for 7 minutes. In the meantime, julienne the zucchini into long thin, spaghetti-like strips (I use a Pampered chef julienning tool that I just love). Add the zucchini to the water with the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse. Put about 1 tsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar to keep the pasta from sticking and for flavor.
Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to a heated skillet, medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crispy but not burnt. Add the dried seasoning, sauté to release the flavors about 2 minutes. Add garlic and red onion, stir and cook for 3 minutes until onion is tender. Add mushrooms, cook 3 minutes. Add spinach and garbanzo beans, cook until spinach wilts. Add the zucchini/pasta mixture back to the pan and heat. Serve immediately, garnish with parmesan cheese, coarse black pepper and fresh herbs if available.
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