Monday, 11 December 2017

Making sense of the pasta aisle



I'm a big pasta fan. I can easily eat it 2-3 times a week (and that's saying a lot. I like variety in my food😊). 

This is NOT an ad, nor a sponsored post despite the pictures. If you follow me on Instagram you'll be familiar with my weekly #SUPERmarketfinds or #superMARKETING videos where I profile foods and break down if their marketing masquerades them as better than they really are, or if it's honestly a great food. This is basically an extended version.

The pasta aisle is so confusing! And not just because of all the different shapes of noodle (which 100% taste different, and you can't convince me otherwise!). But now there's also all these "smart" pastas, with added fibre, and added vegetables, and added... superpowers? Is it all necessary, and how can you know if you're choosing the best noodle for your dish?




There seems to be a lot of confusion around pasta. If you do a Google search of "is pasta..." the top suggestions are: vegan; good for you; bad for you; gluten free; fattening

VEGAN & GLUTEN FREE?

Pasta is made with flour and a liquid. Most of the pasta I've seen is made with wheat flour- making it gluten FULL. However, more and more gluten free options are popping onto grocery shelves, including rice, bean and lentil noodles. As far as vegan options go, unless a package specifically mentions containing eggs, pasta is vegan.

GOOD, BAD, FATTENING?

Carbohydrates are an important addition to meals, as it's the easiest energy source for the body, and the main energy source for our brain. Pasta is a no-to-low fat carb option that's inexpensive and easy to make (win-win in my mind!). It's also an incredibly diverse food that can be the base of absolutely anything- including vegetables and beans, and meat or fish or cheese... it's literally a blank slate of endless options.



SO HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR NOODLE?

1. When looking at the veggie pasta, one touts its "super greens", but doesn't make any claims about amount of vegetables per serving, while the other claims to have half a serving of vegetables in every pasta serving. I'm always a bit skeptical with these added veggies, as most of the time it's vegetable powder added mostly for colour (and to make this claim), and the nutrition information doesn't really reflect that vegetables are there. In this case, the high fibre in the Smart Veggie is likely coming from the added oat fibre. And while at first glance, the super-greens appears to have high potassium from the added vegetables (as none of the other boxes mention potassium) in truth all pasta has potassium! And basically this amount! This box highlights this nutrient to appear more beneficial, but may just be #superMARKETING

2. Comparing the added fibre pasta to the ancient grains pasta, you'll find they're pretty similar in terms of nutrition, and have the same amount of fibre, though it is quite higher than the fibre of a regular pasta.

BOTTOM LINE:

Choose the pasta you enjoy the most. The goal of healthy living isn't to have food in your fridge and cupboards that you're not eating. A basic pasta is high in protein, a good source of fibre, and low in fat and sugar. Cook your pasta to al-dente, as this will slow down digestion and you can avoid a steep sugar rise and crash.


As always, pair your pasta with nutrient rich vegetables and filling proteins to provide a balanced and filling meal that leaves you feeling satisfied and energized.



What's your favorite pasta shape and pasta dish? Comment below!!

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