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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 21, 2020

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

            your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

              Why You Need a Vision

              Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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              How to Create Your Life Vision

              Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

              What Do You Want?

              The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

              It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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              Some tips to guide you:

              • Remember to ask why you want certain things
              • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
              • Give yourself permission to dream.
              • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
              • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

              Some questions to start your exploration:

              • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
              • What would you like to have more of in your life?
              • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
              • What are your secret passions and dreams?
              • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
              • What do you want your relationships to be like?
              • What qualities would you like to develop?
              • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
              • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
              • What would you most like to accomplish?
              • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

              It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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              What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

              Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

              A few prompts to get you started:

              • What will you have accomplished already?
              • How will you feel about yourself?
              • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
              • What does your ideal day look like?
              • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
              • What would you be doing?
              • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
              • How are you dressed?
              • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
              • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
              • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

              It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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              Plan Backwards

              It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

              • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
              • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
              • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
              • What important actions would you have had to take?
              • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
              • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
              • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
              • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
              • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

              Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

              It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

              Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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