March Is Noodle Month
Pasta is a versatile pantry staple and often a family favorite. It sometimes has a reputation as being unhealthy. However, pasta provides many nutrients for our body including complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, and minerals including iron, magnesium, and selenium. Complex carbohydrates also provide essential energy for children as they grow at a rapid rate.
Pasta pairs well with a variety of food groups including vegetables and herbs, beans, lean proteins, dairy-based sauces, and even some fruits. Combining these nutrient-rich foods is exactly what the Dietary Guidelines encourages us to do most often.
It also recommends that half of our grains should be whole grains. Try incorporating whole-grain pasta into your family’s favorite pasta dish. If your family isn’t used to eating whole-grain pasta, consider starting the change gradually. Try doing half and half, refined grain and whole-grain. Even small changes will add nutritional value to your meal.
Pasta is also an easy way to sneak in vegetables for your picky-eaters. Add spinach and shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce or broccoli and green beans to macaroni and cheese. Peas, tomatoes, and zucchini are other options for add-ins.
This quick and easy one-pan dish provides four out of the five MyPlate food groups. To decrease fat and cholesterol, omit ground beef, and add vegetables, such as zucchini or broccoli.
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 3 cups whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160°F as measured with a food thermometer. Drain fat.
- Add tomato sauce, water, oregano, basil, and salt if desired. Bring to a boil.
- Add noodles and stir. Cover and boil gently for 5 minutes.
- Break up thawed spinach in small pieces. Stir in skillet mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir mixture again.
- Spoon cottage cheese on top. Sprinkle with cheese.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender and mixture is hot and bubbly. Add water if it gets too thick.