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Pasta 101

The Fables of Pasta

Although not from the stone-age, Pasta’s origin dates way back. The most common origin story claims pasta was brought to Italy from the East by the explorer Marco Polo. Wait, what? Didn’t we all just equate pasta and Italy?

Well, it is true that a dumpling-like pasta existed in China as early as 1700 BCE. As we slurp our way to the bottom we discover that pasta’s existence in Italy pre-dates Marco Polo’s trip from China. Lagana, the ancestor of Lasagna existed in Italy long before. Bet you’re thanking god you still have your facts right.

Pasta Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

From butterfly-shaped Farfalle, large tubes called Cannelloni, spirals/spindles called Fusilli or noodle like Spaghetti, there are an infinite number of shapes from A to Z including alphabetical pasta! Different forms of pasta go with different styles of sauces and vegetables. Check out few of the common shapes below.

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Can the Slurp be Nutritious?

“As more and more people embrace the health and fitness fad, (internationally) traditional, centuries-old pasta is seeing a renaissance of appreciation by all.”

Most health and fitness freaks blamed pasta to be one of the causes of obesity among other foods. However, the humble pasta was a nutritious staple centuries before obesity became a major health problem. As a matter of fact, even today pasta is a part of healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet.

But bear in mind that highly processed cheese wasn’t dripping and bacon wasn’t smothered on the meals before. Then how do we classify pasta as healthy and nutritious?

Pasta is considered a complex (good) carbohydrate that digests slowly as the pasta making process compacts the starch structure within the pasta making it more slowly digesting than other foods made from the same ingredients. No wonder pasta is such a popular pre-race meal for athletes!

Did you know that thicker, larger pasta shapes tend to digest more slowly than thinner and smaller pasta shapes? So spaghetti digests more slowly than macaroni!

Whole grain pasta offers more nutritional benefits with more fiber, protein, and many more vitamins and minerals. Apart from the type of pasta you choose just as important is what it is paired with. Research constantly highlights the importance of total diet rather than individual foods. And pasta is a canvas that is easily adaptable include fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables and heart-healthy toppings like olive oil.

Too much of any food can lead to weight gain and subsequently other health issues. Stick to the following tips:

  • Watch the portion sizes closely. It has definitely become much bigger over the years at restaurants.
  • Choose a light sauce. Pasta generally gets a bad rep because of what it is paired with – butter and cheese hike up the calorie and fat content. Dress with olive oil or tomato sauces.
  • Healthy toppings and piling on vegetables definitely do the job.

‘Penne’ for your thoughts?