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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

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    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 September 18, 2020

            7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

            7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

            Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

            Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

            1. Exercise Daily

            It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

            If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

            Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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            If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

            2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

            Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

            One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

            This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

            3. Acknowledge Your Limits

            Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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            Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

            Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

            4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

            Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

            The basic nutritional advice includes:

            • Eat unprocessed foods
            • Eat more veggies
            • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
            • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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            Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

              5. Watch Out for Travel

              Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

              This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

              If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

              6. Start Slow

              Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

              If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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              7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

              Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

              My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

              If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

              I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

              Final Thoughts

              Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

              Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

              More Tips on Getting in Shape

              Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

              Reference

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