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If you love pasta, research is now showing that pasta can be consumed without adding all those pounds we have always heard about. We have been told for years that carbohydrates are to blame for obesity, but a new study shows that this is not true about pasta.

Researches at St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada conducted research on almost 2,500 people who ate pasta instead of other carbohydrates as part of a healthy low-glycemic index diet. The people involved in the clinical trials on average ate 3.3 servings of pasta a week instead of other carbohydrates. One serving equals about one-half cup of cooked pasta. The fact is, they did not gain weight, and in some cases some people lost a small amount of weight. What they found out is that pasta, unlike white rice, potatoes, and bread, causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels.

“In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” said Dr. Sievenpiper.

The glycemic index (GI) is a way to measure the impact specific types of food have on blood sugar. GI values range from zero to one hundred. Food with a high GI value will make blood sugar levels rise and fall quickly; food with a low GI value will have a more slow and steady effect.

A GI value under 55 is low; foods that have a low GI value include beans, cruciferous vegetables, grapefruit, and tomatoes. Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leafy vegetables.

A GI value between 56-69 is moderate; examples include pasta, green peas, sweet potatoes, orange juice, and blueberries. A GI value over 70 is high; examples include refined sugar, potatoes, white bread, dried fruit, and watermelon.

So, if you are a pasta lover you can now enjoy a modest amount of this popular dish without being too concerned that you will gain weight. This is good news for just about everyone, and certainly very good news for Italian restaurants.

As an Italian, we grew up eating pasta all the time. As an adult, I try to avoid it as much as possible because I don’t want to gain weight. Now I can begin to enjoy pasta again as a side dish, and if we follow the advice of this study we can do it as much as three times a week.

Low-Cal
Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 ounces fresh fettuccine
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon,1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with parmesan and pepper.

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