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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 November 19, 2019

            20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

            20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

            Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

            If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

            1. Create a Daily Plan

            Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

            2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

            Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

            3. Use a Calendar

            Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

            I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

            Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

            4. Use an Organizer

            An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

            These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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            5. Know Your Deadlines

            When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

            But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

            6. Learn to Say “No”

            Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

            Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

            7. Target to Be Early

            When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

            For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

            Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

            8. Time Box Your Activities

            This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

            You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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            9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

            Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

            10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

            Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

            You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

            11. Focus

            Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

            Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

            Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

            12. Block out Distractions

            What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

            I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

            When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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            Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

            13. Track Your Time Spent

            When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

            You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

            14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

            You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

            Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

            15. Prioritize

            Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

            Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

            16. Delegate

            If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

            When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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            17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

            For related work, batch them together.

            For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

            1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
            2. coaching
            3. workshop development
            4. business development
            5. administrative

            I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

            18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

            What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

            One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

            While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

            19. Cut off When You Need To

            The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

            Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

            20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

            Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

            More Time Management Techniques

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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