Prairie Fare: October is National Pasta Month
By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
NDSU Extension Service
Whenever I canít quite decide what to make for dinner, pasta comes to
mind. Itís versatile, quick to prepare, inexpensive, and best of all, my
kids love it.
October, National Pasta Month, is a good time to enjoy the variety of
dishes possible with pasta. Itís an opportunity to combine fresh fall
vegetables with pasta, too. Tempt your taste buds with steaming bowls of
pasta-containing vegetable soups, cool pasta-vegetable salads or unique
shapes of pasta topped by meaty tomato-based sauces.
You can bet more than a few North Dakotans will be joining you. North
Dakota, the nationís top durum growing state, celebrates Pasta Loverís Week
Oct. 19 to 25.
Americans eat about 14 pounds of pasta per person yearly. If that seems
like a lot, put down your fork. Thatís less than one-fourth the annual pasta
consumption of Italians, who eat 62 pounds of pasta per person yearly.
Pasta is high in complex carbohydrates, and itís fortified with iron and
B vitamins including folic acid, which may help prevent certain birth
defects. If you believe the popular high protein diet plans, however, you
might think that skipping carbohydrates and digging into more protein and
fat is the magic way to drop a few clothing sizes.
Weight loss, however, is about calorie deficit. Americans in general,
however, arenít operating their bodies on calorie deficits. Weíre eating
more. According to studies, Americans are eating about 500 calories a day
more than the recommendation. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories
than you consume.
Yes, you can eat potatoes (and pasta) but itís best not to be a couch
potato. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or
more days of the week.
With all the pasta that Italians eat, you might expect them to be
roly-poly. Actually about 37 percent of pasta-loving Italians are considered
overweight or obese, compared with more than 60 percent of Americans. Whatís
their secret? Theyíre probably eating less of other foods and getting more
Some people blame the Food Guide Pyramid for the expanding American
waistline. After all, the Food Guide Pyramid recommends six to 11 servings
of grain foods daily. Consider this: A Food Guide Pyramid-size "serving" of
pasta is one-half cup. A restaurant-size pasta "portion" might be three
If you eat three cups of pasta in one sitting, youíve eaten six servings
from the grain group. You may have met the grain food recommendation for the
day depending on your age, gender and activity level. Thatís OK. You
probably enjoyed every bite of it, too.
Hereís a quick and tasty pasta recipe from the National Pasta
Associationís Web site:
Angel Hair with Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic
1 lb. angel hair or capellini pasta, uncooked
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
5 c. tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp. basil
3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
5 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Heat oil in a
large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute.
Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Add hot pasta to
skillet; toss well. Add chicken broth and stir. Toss with Parmesan cheese
and serve immediately.
Makes six to eight servings. Each serving contains 369 calories, 7
grams fat, 63.5 grams carbohydrate and 162 milligrams sodium.
Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Tom Jirik, (701) 231-9629, email@example.com
[Editors: Weíve updated the illustrated column identifier for Julie
Garden-Robinsonís Prairie Fare column. If youíre using an older version or
if you would like to use the identifier, please download this printable EPS
file. Prairie Fare (142 Kb eps