make PASTA your healthiest meal

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healthy SFG pasta

Dear Diary,

I am a pasta fanatic… I have it for dinner at least twice a week, if not more, and I’m not ashamed! That’s because my pasta is always healthy, full of greens and protein, and completely satisfying.  In my opinion, pasta has a horrible rep– it’s always associated with buttery sauces and tons of unnecessary carbs, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips to make pasta your favorite, and healthiest meal of the week!

SFG DIARY pasta made healthy

1.  Choose the Right Pasta

I use Jovial Organic 100% whole wheat pasta– Jovial is minimally processed, has few ingredients, and is full of protein but low in carbs.  It doesn’t get better than that people!  It’s also all about moderation… pay attention to the serving amount on the box, and stick to it.  (Okay, to be honest, sticking to the serving amount is tough for me… but I’m working on it ;))

2.  Make your own Sauce

By making the sauce yourself, you’re able to have more control over the ingredients you put into it… the fresher the ingredients, the better it is for you.  My sauces are always EVOO based; EVOO has healthy fats that are good for the body and great for the skin… so less butter, and more olive oil will lead to a healthier sauce, guaranteed– add in sauteed garlic or some lemon juice to instantly brighten the flavor of any EVOO sauce base.

3.  Add on the veggies and protein

Any pasta dish can be interesting, delicious and inventive depending on the veggies and proteins you have around.  Chop up some greens, add in some local produce, and viola, you’ve gotten your vegetable servings in!– just add seasoning!  Also, FUN FACT:  did you know that vegetables are richer in nutrient value when they are sauteed or steamed vs. when they are eaten raw?!  … I know, mind blowing!

Switch up the protein– cheese, almond cheese, fish, tofu, poultry, meat… so many options for protein, but add it in there!  It will keep you fuller longer, and lead to a healthier and leaner you… guaranteed!

4.  Experiment with flavors and textures!

Don’t forget to season!  Salt and pepper is sometimes all you need to finish a pasta dish, but other times you need to add some heat (cayenne pepper for instance), or some deep Italian Oregano leaves to make a dish complete.  I often add sweet vinegar to the pasta when serving, it provides a great sweet acidity that I love, especially for my pesto!  I also like to add ground flax seeds to my pasta dishes… I know it sounds crazy, LOL, but I love the texture, it keeps me fuller longer, and flax seeds are full of some extra protein… can’t hurt!  :)

SFG Diary healthy pasta

Tonight I made my famous Pesto– spinach, basil, EVOO, garlic, and pine nuts… on top, sliced baby tomatoes and almond cheese!  Looks good enough to eat, right?!  Well go!  Make it!  It’s healthy and SFG approved!

So there are some tips on how to make Pasta your healthiest meal… Enjoy SFGs!

 

Light, Summer Pasta

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light, summer pasta SFG

Dear Diary,

Pasta is good ALL THE TIME.  But when summer heats up, I crave lighter dishes– the kind that won’t make me feel sluggish in the humidity, and helps me to feel nourished and full without feeling heavy.    This Light, Summer Pasta dish is full of fiber, vegetables, and flavor– without the extra calories.  It is creamy and tangy (kind of resembling alfredo sauce), but with none of that heavy cream and butter.  Thank goodness for ricotta– it’s sweet and creamy and full of protein! The thought of eating pasta during the summer months, used to scare me– but I love that today I was sitting by the pool– and tonight, I can eat some delicious pasta and know that it is actually a well-rounded and healthy dish!   Bikini season, here I come!

LIGHT SUMMER PASTA sfg diary

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED

  • pasta (I go with barilla protein pasta)
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bundle of string beans
  • container of grape tomatoes (cut into halves)
  • 4 tbsps (big tablespoons) of fat free ricotta

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO

  • boil the pasta until cooked (set aside)
  • in a large sauce pan add the olive oil and garlic cloves (minced) on a low heat
  • steam the string beans
  • when the garlic becomes translucent add the string beans, tomatoes and spinach cook until the spinach begins to welt
  • add in the ricotta and salt and pepper (a couple pinches worth)
  • mix together and add the pasta!
  • eat it all… :)

sfg diary summer pasta

Feel free to experiment/substitute with any vegetables your body is craving.  This pasta is so delicious and rich– but guilt-free for summer! You’re welcome SFG’s!  Tell us-  what are you craving this summer?!

SUMMER PASTA: healthy Carbonara

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carbonara 1 and SUNDAE 002 Dear Diary,

You guys know I’m no stranger to a great pasta dish!  Growing up, Italian food was a staple in our house and I’ve continued the tradition.  It seems like the SFG’s have had pasta fever lately… which is quite odd in the dry heat of a Los Angeles summer… but craving good, hearty food just can’t be helped!  But what can be helped is how we decide to prepare it.  At home in New York, my mom has a very specific way of preparing this dish– and it involves a LOT of cheese and heavy cream… and while her original version is quite delicious, I have to say my version is a strong competitor in taste and health.

Healthier is always the way to go… as much as I love food, I love my body more!  I’m not willing to undo everything just because I have a craving.  I say, give into your cravings… but add a guilt-free healthy twist!  Just ONE change, can make all the difference physically and mentally… so that the next day, you’re not feeling unmotivated or sluggish… but good about yourself; mind, body and soul.

What makes this dish so satisfying is the rich flavor– the sharp bacon and cheese combined with the sweet cream is a killer combination that can’t be beat.  But the great thing about such bold flavor, is that you don’t need as much as you think for it to shine!  Try my version out and tell me what you think– with less fat and more protein… I think you’ll agree!  ;)

carbonara 1 and SUNDAE 003

Here’s what you need:

1/2 bag of frozen peas

small bundle of chives

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup of Parmesan

1/4 nutritional yeast (adds the parmesan kick without more cheese!!)

3 eggs

3 tablespoons of skim milk

1 box of barilla–protein plus spaghetti pasta (add extra protein wherever you can!)

salt/pepper

organic turkey bacon (as many slices as you like!)

carabonara 001

Here’s what you do:

boil pasta, drain pasta and then return the cooked pasta to the same big pot

In a separate pan, heat olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic and organic turkey bacon until turkey looks completely cooked (add the garlic a couple minutes after the turkey has been cooking so that the garlic doesn’t burn!

When cooked add these ingredients into the pot of cooked pasta and mix together under low heat

then add one tablespoon of my FAVORITE butter GHEE for some extra smoothness!

In a separate mixing bowl combine 3 eggs, nutritional yeast and parmesan cheese… also a dash of salt and pepper! Then slowly add this mixture into the pot of pasta. Continuously mix the pasta and egg/cheese mixture together so that the egg slowly cooks and cheese slowly melts over the pasta, forming a sauce!

Half way through adding the egg/cheese mixture, add a dash of milk to cream-ify as well as the small bowl of peas!

continue to mix until everything is combined and add a small bundle of chopped chives for some extra crunch and flavor!

carabonara 007

And there you have it… a healthier version of one of my all-time favorite dishes!

Enjoy SFG’s!

Bring Italy home… and party!

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Dear Diary,

I’m not a big party girl… If I ever have to make a choice between a night on the town or a small get-together at home… it is no contest. I absolutely love entertaining!– cooking a big feast, listening to some great tunes, and just having some drinks with good friends.

Thursday night my boyfriend and I decided to have a little partaaaay… not only was I intimidated by the menu I was attempting to create, but I was a little nervous about the guest list as well…  We’re lucky to have a very diverse group of friends: actors, writers, agents, musicians, and engineers… a little random, no? ha… trust me, get them all in one room and the differences are obvious…  well despite my initial fears, I’m happy to report that the night was a huge success in every way!  We all had so much fun and with everyone in a great mood, the night was filled with laughter, booze and lots and lots of Italian food.

Italy holds a special place in my heart… I lived in Florence for six months while studying abroad in college, where I developed a keen interest in the Italian language and culture.  I was also lucky enough to grow-up with authentic Italian food!  Living in NY, finding great Italian food is as easy as snappin your fingers!  And even though I’m only 1/8 Italian, my house was always filled with the sweet aroma of Italian cooking.  My parents were fortunate enough to spend a majority of their twenties living abroad in Rome…  thus authentic Italian food was a consistent treat.

Thursday was not my first time cooking Italian food, but it my first timing cooking such an abundant amount of it!

For the antipasti I made a caprese salad which is simply mozzarella (find at a local Italian market for the freshest and creamiest,) tomato, and basil– drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I also baked home-made pizza with melted ricotta and mozzarella, and jalapenos for some kick!

For the main course I whipped together a fettuccine pesto dish, and homemade gnocchi!  Yes HOME MADE– it might seem intimidating but it really isn’t!  All you need are boiled russet potatoes, flour and egg!  1)  Roll out the dough into long lines and chop into small balls, 2)  then roll them with your fork to create little crevices for sauce and cheese to set in!  To create your own simple, tomato sauce all you need are onions, garlic, olive oil, basil, nutmeg, oregano, and of course tomatoes!

Making Italian food is very simple… you just want to make sure you use correct, authentic ingredients!

Try it yourself for your next dinner party! :) … and don’t forget NUTELLA the decadent Italian, chocolate-hazelnut spread– lather fruit or bread with Nutella for an easy and delicious dessert!

–  SFG Jackie

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