Make it a Macaroni Day

Did you know that today is National Macaroni Day?If you’re like me, you know that any day of the year is a great day to celebrate this versatile food. Pasta has gotten some bad press over the last few years, and it’s time to set the record straight. You can have your macaroni and eat it too – without guilt!

 

Although many people may refer to all pasta dishes as macaroni, macaroni is only one type of pasta! Pasta is the name for the group of shapes that can be made from a dough that is made with flour and water. Eggs and even potatoes are added for certain pasta varieties, think egg noodles and gnocchi! The dough is then pinched, pressed, or rolled into whatever shapes you can imagine, giving us the wide variety of options you see on the grocery shelves.

 

Carb-y Facts

 

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy and pasta supplies you with an abundance of them! Your brain can live on other sources, but it prefers the simple sugars it gets from breaking down those carbohydrates.  They come in simple and complex varieties.

  • Simple carbs are also referred to as simple sugars. They are found in fruits, vegetables, milk and sugar. This type of carb is absorbed very quickly, thus raising your blood sugar very quickly. However, it is important to note that the fiber in fruits and vegetables and fat/protein in milk can help minimize the rise in blood sugar!
  • Complex carbs are considered any type of starch, including whole grain and refined grain products. This type of carb takes longer to break down, leading to lower rise in your blood sugar. However, refined grains may cause a higher spike in blood sugars than whole grains as much of the fiber and nutrients are removed during processing.

 

Types of “Pasta”

 

Traditionally, pasta is made with semolina flour, which is made from durum wheat. This type of flour does contain gluten, so if you have Celiac disease you will have to look for gluten-free options – which there are plenty of!

 

Along with traditional pasta made with durum wheat, there are a ton of options made with other types of grains or even legumes.

  • Chickpea pasta will give you more protein and you might not even notice the difference between this and regular pasta!
  • Quinoa pasta is a great gluten-free pasta version that is also a complete protein.
  • Rice pasta is another great option.
  • Gnocchi is a type of pasta made from potato-based dough that is usually much softer in texture than other pastas.
  • Lentil pasta will also give you more protein and it tastes delicious!
  • Black bean pasta is another option, but don’t let the black color steer you away! You might like it if you give it a chance.

 

Summer Celebration

 

Pasta is a very versatile ingredient. It lends itself to either hot or cold meals, so it’s a great way to make several meals out of one batch. No matter which shape or type you choose, there are lots of ways to make great meals!

  • Pick a new type of pasta to try and choose three different colored vegetables to add in. Cook the pasta first, sauté the vegetables with a little olive oil until tender, then toss the warm pasta and cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Top with shredded basil and your choice of protein!
  • Swap heavy, cream-based sauces like Alfredo for marinara. You can also add chicken broth to add volume to the sauce.
  • Try a cold summer macaroni salad!  Cook elbow macaroni in lightly salted water and let cool. Mix with diced celery, shredded carrots, chopped pimentos, and Greek yogurt. Season with dill and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with whole grain crackers for a nice light meal!

 

Pasta is an easy base to get creative with! You can add almost any vegetable and protein to it to create a new dish every time. Even just mixing up the sauces will create a totally different meal! So celebrate this extra-special day by trying a new spin on an old favorite!

 

Your turn to take action:What new pasta recipes will you try? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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