Ask my husband what his favorite comfort food is and the answer will be quick: pasta. Who doesn't love a steamy bowl of noodles?
As adults, we decide to eat healthier, and it almost seems like our loyal noodle friend gets tossed aside, as if there were no way to include pasta in a healthy diet. Well, I'm here with good news: Pasta can be part of a healthy diet, and I have a few tips to help keep things both comforting and nutritious.
First: Read the labels, because not all pastas are created equal. Look for whole-grain pastas, which usually translate into more protein and fiber, which makes your meal more filling.
If you are feeling extra ambitious, you can even seek out some pasta versions that are made from beans and legumes. The next tip is to minimize fat by using starchy pasta water for saucy silkiness: Just scoop out some water with a measuring cup before draining the pasta. Saute up some veggies and aromatics in a smidge of olive oil, and use the pasta water to add the saucy vibe.
Adding veggies to the pasta will bulk it up, add nutrients and make the pasta prettier. My go-to is frozen spinach. You could saute it up with the aromatics and olive oil, or in a weeknight rush, toss the frozen spinach right into the boiling pasta just before draining.
My final tip: Try lemon zest instead of part or all of the Parmesan cheese. The zest adds an aromatic depth that somehow makes the nutty Parmesan cheese less pronounced if missing.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."