Healthier Bowl of Pasta (cont.)

Lifestream Organic Whole Grain & Flax Linguini: This pasta has the highest amount of plant omega-3s in a serving of the brands I checked out. The fiber ain't too shabby, either (8 grams per 2 ounce serving). The brand is distributed through Nature's Path Foods Inc. in Washington, and has just two ingredients: organic wheat durum flour and organic brown flax meal. Cooking time for the linguine is 7-9 minutes.

  • 365 Organic Whole Wheat Shells: Even the Whole Foods store brand is jumping on the whole-wheat pasta bandwagon. The pasta contains just organic whole durum wheat flour and water. You'll find it in assorted shapes including long narrow tubes (also known as penne). Cooking time for the shells is 14-16 minutes.

  • Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Pasta Rotelle: You can find a few different shapes of whole-wheat pasta in the Trader Joe's brand, including rotelle, penne, and spaghetti. The only ingredient in this pasta is organic durum whole wheat. Cooking time is 9-11 minutes for the rotelle.

  • 5 Healthier Pasta Survival Tips

    Ready to try one of these healthier types of pasta? Here are five tips to help you make the transition:

    1. Keep trying different higher fiber pasta brands or products until you find the one you and your family enjoy most.
    2. Whole wheat or higher-fiber pastas are more appealing when served with flavorful sauces or layered (like in lasagna) with sauce, cheese, vegetables, etc.
    3. Keep in mind that some whole-wheat pastas seem to lighten in color as they cook. (I suspect this has to do with the absorption of water).
    4. You may eat a little less pasta than you normally would. The whole-wheat and higher- fiber pastas seem to be more satisfying.
    5. If you are a ravioli or tortellini lover, fear not! I've found raviolis made with whole-wheat pasta at Whole Foods Markets and other specialty food stores.

    Pasta Recipes

    Here are a couple of pasta recipes -- one hot and one cold - that are perfect for the healthier whole-grain and higher-fiber brands.

    Charleston Chicken Pasta (this dish is served chilled)

    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 1/2 cups hearty stews/chili + 2 ounces low-fat cheese OR
    1 serving lean meat with 1 tsp fat maximum + 3/4 cup starchy foods without added fat

    3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
    2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    6 boneless, skinless grilled chicken breasts (seasoned with a garlic & pepper blend or garlic powder, black pepper, and salt, if desired)
    1/2 cup shredded smoked mozzarella, packed
    1/2 cup finely chopped celery
    1/2 cup chopped green onions
    1 cup grape tomato halves
    1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley (parsley flakes can also be used)
    3 cups whole wheat linguini pasta, cooked, drained and cooled (or any desired shape)
    Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

    • Add mayo, sour cream, and lemon juice to a 1-cup measure and stir to blend.
    • Cut the chicken breasts into 1/4-inch thick slices (should be around 3 1/2 cups of chicken strips). Add chicken, mozzarella, celery, green onions, tomatoes, parsley and cooked noodles into a large serving bowl and toss to blend.
    • Drizzle the mayo mixture over the chicken noodle mixture and toss to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired. Cover and store in the refrigerator until right before serving.

    Yield: 4 servings

    Per serving: 416 calories, 43 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 4.4 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 259 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 26%.

    Simple Spinach & Tomato Pasta

    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 3/4 cup starchy foods with 1 tsp fat maximum + 1/2 cup vegetables without added fat

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    1 cup loosely packed chopped spinach, fresh or frozen in bags
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    salt and pepper to taste (optional)
    2 cups cooked whole-wheat pasta in small shapes, like macaroni, rotelli, or small shells
    1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

    • Add olive oil to a medium nonstick saucepan or skillet heated over medium-high heat. After about 20 seconds, when the oil is nice and hot, add tomatoes, spinach, and garlic and continue to saute for a few minutes until spinach is soft and bright green and tomatoes are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
    • Stir in the cooked pasta and continue to cook and stir the mixture for a minute or two to heat up the pasta and blend the flavors. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and turn off the heat. Let the dish sit for a couple of minutes, sprinkle pine nuts over the top and serve.

    Yield: 2 servings

    Per serving: 279 calories, 11 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 89 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 27%.

    Published April 9, 2007.

    ©2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

    Last Editorial Review: 4/20/2007