Slim Down Your Pasta Dishes

By Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

Pasta may very well be one of the world’s most tasty foods. It is often described as being a “comfort food” but there is little comfort in knowing, most of the time, pasta dishes are extremely high in calories and heart-harming saturated fat. However, pasta does not have to be so unhealthy. With a few simple swaps, you can enjoy this class comfort food while taking comfort in the fact that you are sticking to a healthy diet.

  • Start off with a whole-grain pasta. Opt for whole-wheat pasta or a variety made with another whole grain other than wheat. There are a lot more varieties of non-wheat, whole-grain pastas available now due to the fact that so many people are following a gluten-free diet but still want to make sure they are choosing healthy, alternative whole-grain options.
  • Add in a plethora of colorful vegetables. Sauté up some garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, or any other type of vegetable you have on hand and add it to your pasta right at the end. Or, if you prefer to keep it a one-pot meal, simply add in your veggies to pot of boiling pasta in the last 3-4 minutes of cooking and strain all of the water off in your colander.
  • Opt for a red sauce over a white sauce. Marina sauce or any other tomato-based sauce is going to be much lower in calories than a traditional white sauce, such as alfredo or carbonara, which are loaded with cream, cheese, and bacon—all of which add a significant amount of calories. You could also make your own sauce from scratch—this way you can control how much fat and sugar go into the sauce.
  • Stick with lean proteins. Swap out regular meatballs for turkey meatballs to cut calories and fat. Select other lean proteins, such as grilled chicken, fish, shrimp, scallops, mussels, lobster, or clams.
  • Watch portion sizes. Pasta is easy to overeat, so be mindful of how much you scoop onto your plate. If dining out, split an entrée with a friend.

In celebration of the anniversary milestones of LoRusso’s Cucina and Operation Food Search, LoRusso’s is bringing back PASTA BOWL 2016. PASTA BOWL will take place the evening of February 1st at LoRusso’s at 3121 Watson Road on the Hill, commemorating its 30th anniversary and Operation Food Search’s 35th! At PASTA BOWL, the Monday evening before Super Bowl, diners will enjoy a family-style feast of 3 different pastas from recipes submitted by restaurant customers. All guests that evening have the opportunity to vote on their favorite recipe, and the winning recipe will then be featured on LoRusso’s menu. Each time that pasta is ordered throughout the year, LoRusso’s will donate $2 to Operation Food Search! The PASTA BOWL dinner is $65 per person, plus gratuity, and includes wine, appetizers, salad, and dessert. Reservations may be made by calling (314) 647-6222 or at pam@lorussos.com. Over the years, LoRusso Cucina’s PASTA BOWL has raised over $56,000 to help OFS nourish the area hungry!