Pasta Bake? Really you are a dietitian and you eat pasta bake for dinner? But doesn’t that have pasta in it? And isn’t that bad for you?
I hear this all the time and thanks to the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet and many many more fad diets I hear it more and more.
But this post isn’t about getting into an argument about pros and cons on low carb diets- it’s to show you that a dietitian follows a healthy, balanced diet (cliche sounding I know- but its true). And that getting a variety of foods from all the food groups is the way to a happy, healthy lifestyle!
Now lets get back to the pasta bake- did I mention its my version of a ‘healthy pasta bake’? And best thing of all, my other half loves it which means it has the hubby tick of approval.
And here is my finished Healthy Pasta Bake- how delicious!!!
When I talk about pasta bake, I am not talking about dish that is loaded with pasta, heavy creamy sauce and fatty meat. I am talking about a dish that is chock block full of vegetables, healthy protein and small amount of low GI carbohydrates- and best of all tastes delicious!
So what do I do to make my pasta bake? Well below are some tips on making a healthy pasta bake and also the end result of my dish that I made the other night (its not a step by step recipe but more of a guidance as to how you can makeover a recipe).
First of all, what sort of pasta bake do you want to make? I love a tomato based sauce, with chicken as the main protein and spiral pasta which is what I will talk about. Once you have decided what you would like to make you can apply my easy tips below:
Tips for a Pasta Bake Makeover
Ok, so you gotta have vegetables. Now before you think, what… vegetables… since when do they belong in a pasta bake, throw out your restaurant version of a pasta bake and start to think about what vegetables you like and what vegetables bake well. I love putting
My vegetables being cooked up ready for the pasta bake!
carrots, broccoli, red onion, capsicum, mushrooms, eggplant and baby spinach (for the top) in mine but you can use what you like. Just remember you want to aim for at least two serves of vegetables per person (which is about 1 cup of cooked vegetables at least).
And pasta bakes are a delicious way of ‘hiding’ vegetables if you have family members who aren’t big vegetable fans.
So I love spiral or shell pasta for a pasta bake but am always cautious of not having too much. So I measure out my pasta and have about 3/4 of a cup of cooked pasta for each serve. So remember to always measure you pasta- don’t just pour from the packet as its then easy to cook to much (which then means you will probably eat the extra). If you are thinking that it doesn’t sound like a lot of pasta, remember you have the vegetables and protein to help fill you up!
Now you can make either a vegetarian pasta bake or one with meat it doesn’t matter- but I like to have lean chicken breast in mine to give flavour and a source of protein to help fill me up.
Lets make it yummy
Ok so you know have the basic building blocks for a pasta bake- but lets add he fun parts to make it tasty!
I like to use lots of herbs (such as oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary) and garlic, which are in the pan while the vegetables and chicken are cooking. I also throw in half a tin of no added salt tomatoes to start making the mixture a little saucy.
Now, many people ask me about the jars of pasta sauce in the supermarket- and I am in two minds about them. Yes, its easy for me to
Ready for the oven
say don’t eat them, make all your meals from scratch as its better for you- and yes this can be true in many ways. However, I am also a realistic dietitian and understand that time and money doesn’t always allow for this. So if one jar of pasta sauce is what makes sure the family gets a meal with lots of vegetables, lean protein and low GI carbs instead of an unhealthy takeaway then I am all for this. But choose a jar with the lowest sodium you can find and no added sugar!
I use about 1/3 of a jar of pasta sauce in pasta bake and the tin of tomatoes accounts for the rest. This way I still get the flavour but reduce the amount of salt from the pre-made sauce- hubby loves the pre-made sauce so this is our compromise!
To boost the nutrition of the dish even further I also add chia seeds through the mixture- they are a great source of omega three, protein and other nutrients. I am always looking for new ways to improve the nutrition of meals.
Once I have put the pasta/vege/meat sauce mixture in the baking dish, I top with a small amount of low fat cottage cheese, baby spinach, slices of tomato and small amount of reduced fat grated cheese- yum!!!
And then just pop it into the oven- easy!!!
I hope this inspires you! Remember healthy eating, weight loss and reaching your weight goals can be achieved through balanced healthy eating. Throw away the fad diets and the repetitive eating (you do not have to have tuna salad everyday to lose weight)!
Variety in your eating will help you stick to a healthier lifestyle for longer, rather than strict repetitive diets which usually burn you our after about 4-6 weeks.
Eating should but enjoyable!
My new year’s resolution is to try more recipes- what’s yours?