Wheat a Minute! Why Choose Whole Wheat Pasta?

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Tamar Genger MA, RD
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whole-wheat-tuna-casarole

For years, dietitians have been encouraging a diet filled with whole grains.  After all, whole grains may lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.  I know it's easier said than done. French bread and focaccia are so delicious and nearly impossible to find whole wheat.  What’s a foodie to do? Although a diet rich in wheat flour is probably best, it's just not realistic for most of us.  It's important to choose your battles and when it comes to pasta, it's a fight worth having.

Vegetable Mac and Cheese and Greens with Pesto Vinaigrette

Vegetable Mac and Cheese and Greens with Pesto Vinaigrette

Most people eat store bought boxed pasta at least once per week.  Many kids take leftovers of noodles and eat macaroni and cheese a few times a week at school or back home.  It's a quick easy meal that you might even be able to sneak in some broccoli and spinach, without too much of a fuss.

whole-wheat-tuna-casarole

Whole Wheat Tuna Casserole

One easy way to use your noodle is to make it whole grain. Especially when covered in sauce, no one will even notice.  If you haven’t tasted whole wheat pasta in the past few years, it's time to give it another shot.   Whole wheat pasta has come a long way in taste, texture and even nutrition. Check out Victoria’s taste test for some guidance or head to a gourmet market where you might find some fancy Italian brands.  I happen to like Garofalo for ziti, it has great flavor and texture.

Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna

Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna

Whole-grain pastas (from whole wheat to spelt to einkorn) are increasingly available in supermarkets and even restaurants.  Use the Whole Grains Council stamp for Good Source of whole grains (offering a half-serving of whole grain per portion), Excellent Source (a full serving of whole grain), or 100% Whole Grain/Excellent Source (a full serving with no refined grains) to help find the pasta with maximum benefit.  At least choose a pasta that lists a whole grain first in the ingredients.

Whole-Wheat Bow Tie Pasta With Puttanesca Sauce

Whole-Wheat Bow Tie Pasta With Puttanesca Sauce

If whole grain pasta still seems too grainy, try thinner and smaller shapes, where the texture is much less noticeable.  You can find whole wheat angel hair, whole wheat couscous, and whole wheat orzo.   And don’t forget specialty pastas, like Barilla Plus, made from multiple whole grains, resulting in a high protein, fiber-filled product that you can enjoy guilt-free anytime of  the day.

Try these Whole Wheat pasta recipes with such flavorful sauce, no one will notice the color of the pasta.

Vegetable Mac and Cheese

Whole Wheat Tuna Noodle Casserole

Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna

Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta With Putanesca

Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous