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Powered by Pasta: 5 Delicious, Simple, and Veggie Packed Pasta Dishes

Powered by Pasta: 5 Delicious, Simple, and Veggie Packed Pasta Dishes

Pasta, one of my favorite carbohydrates. And that is saying something since I am a HUGE carb lover. A true gift from the Mediterranean, pasta is made from just two simple ingredients—durum wheat and water. Pasta can be the perfect foundation for a nutritious and balanced meal. Need some proof? A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that placing individuals on a low-carbohydrate diet (35%) did not result in greater weight loss than those on a high-carbohydrate diet (65%). These findings were followed up in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and confirmed by the 2015 DGAC Report that there is “strong and consistent evidence that when calorie intake is controlled, macronutrient proportion of the diet is not related to losing weight”.

Now that we’ve gotten past the pasta-phobia, let’s talk about why pasta is such a nutritious food. Carbohydrates are one of three basic macronutrients (fat and protein are the other two) that provide our bodies with energy. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for the body and can be described as simple or complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, like pasta, are digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates, so they can provide our bodies with energy more gradually after a meal and help us feel satisfied longer.

Pasta has other healthful components such as fiber and protein. Fiber (think  whole wheat pasta!) can help reduce your risk certain health conditions like coronary heart disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Protein (some varieties are protein fortified) helps build muscle and feel full longer. In addition to protein, pasta can also be fortified with a variety of ingredients such as heart-healthy fats (think omega 3s!) and folic acid, an important B vitamin, especially during pregnancy.

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If you are looking to i your veggie intake, never fear. There’s a pasta for you, too. Some pastas are made with vegetable flour and provide one FULL serving of vegetables per 3.5 oz portion. This leads me to this main focus of this article: veggies and pasta. The two complement each other nicely and can serve as the foundation for nutritious side dishes and entrees. Read on for some tasty, veggie-centered pasta recipes!

1. A Twist on the Old Classic

stuffedtomatoes5-683x1024

    This creative take of combining tomatoes with pasta, Dinner at the Zoo, stuffs hollowed out tomatoes with spaghetti, cheese, and herbs. You heard me right, a tomato stuffed with a delicious concoction of pasta, gooey cheese, and flavorful herbs! This recipe is ripe with lycopene, a class of antioxidants that has been shown to promote heart health.

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    2. Lighten up with the ‘cado

    Avocado Pasta

      Don’t give up the creaminess that comes from an Alfredo or cream sauce. Instead, substitute the cream or half and half with avocado! While it may sound a little different, do your heart a favor and give it a shot. Avocado is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which can help lower your cholesterol. This simple creamy avocado spaghetti with zucchini can be ready in under 30 minutes. Give it a try the next time you are craving a creamy pasta dish.

      3. Amp up with some protein

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      Lemon Pesto

        Did you know that veggies have protein?! Edamame (aka soybeans) and nuts are great sources of protein that will help build lean muscle and make you feel fuller for longer.  This lemony pasta with edamame, almonds, and spinach is a great example of a veggie-centered pasta dish that is pumped up with protein.

        4. Pair with pesto

        Walnut Pesto

          Traditionally, the main nut used in pesto is pine nuts. This walnut pesto penne recipe swaps out pine nuts for walnuts for a new take on tradition and incorporates differently-shaped pasta! Importantly, nuts are high in unsaturated fats (such as omega 3’s) and low in saturated fats. Eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, for example walnuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

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          5. No-bake lasagna

          No Bake Lasagna

            I know that in the summer, the last thing I want to do is crank on the oven to make dinner. Enter the cold, no-bake lasagna! This recipe is bursting with a medley of vegetables, delicious pesto, and yummy cheese. Bonus—you don’t even have to pop it in the oven. The option to serve this dish cold makes it a great option for outdoor summer get-togethers.

            These delicious recipes are more than enough reason to get me to have pasta for dinner tonight. Never mind the fact that pasta is a central ingredient of the healthful Mediterranean Diet, which multiple studies have shown  can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. So get creative, vary your veggies and add new pasta dishes to your culinary repertoire. Eating well doesn’t have to be Greek to you!

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            Last Updated on January 17, 2019

            8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

            8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

            In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

            Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

            Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

            Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

            Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

            The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

            There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

            How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

            According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

            Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

            Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

            The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

            Listen carefully:

            We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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            The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

            Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

            8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

            There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

            Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

            1. Pray Daily

            You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

            When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

            Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

            Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

            2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

            A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

            By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

            Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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            If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

            This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

            How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

            3. Smile Often

            Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

            Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

            Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

            The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

            4. Organize Your Working Desk

            A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

            When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

            Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

            Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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            5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

            I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

            Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

            What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

            6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

            God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

            I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

            I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

            7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

            You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

            How do you do that? This is my formula:

            First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

            If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

            If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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            If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

            Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

            8. Go Exercise

            Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

            The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

            You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

            12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

            The Bottom Line

            It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

            It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

            Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

            More Resources About Mindfulness

            Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

            Reference

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