Pasta is lighter than McDonalds:
debunking myths around Italian Diet
I want to debunk myths around one of the essential parts of an Italian diet: Pasta .
Let’s talk about why it is good to eat (especially when you get it from Italy!), why you shouldn’t fear carbs, and how to eat it.
The first secret:
a few, fresh ingredients.
The key to include pasta in your repertoire without fear is to approach it as the Italians do: it is a simple base for a myriad of fresh ingredients.
Whether you are a vegetarian, a fish lover, or perhaps yen to sit down to a steaming plate of pasta Bolognese Sunday afternoon, pasta is your friend .
Pasta is a basic food group to Italians all over the country. They eat it multiple times a week and nary regard it as the enemy. Each region (there are 20 regions in Italy), and in fact each town have their special recipes, and of course with the changing seasons come different ingredients.
Generally very few ingredients are used, and they are always the best of the best of the season, always fresh. The Italians do not rely on canned anything, nor does their pasta helm from the frozen food section of the supermarket.
Choose your favorite Italian Sauce
In Liguria, you will always find the venerable Pesto dishes, made with incredible Ligurian basil leaves, Ligurian olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, and pine nuts.
Seasonal vegetables are often used to enhance the texture and interest of a pasta dish, whether it be eggplant, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, etc.
Fish is an omnipresent ingredient, and as you go towards the sea you will find endless pasta dishes made with clams, mussels, octopus, and shrimp, all of which offer so much in the way of nutrition and health benefits .
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is always a good idea!
For what concern sauce, Italians have a real "golden" ticket : to favor Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a base for pasta dish as opposed to butter.
This will help you to enjoy pasta and don't care too much for your waistline, although the farther north you go, the more likely you are to encounter butter and slightly more robust pasta dishes in tune with colder winter months. However the butter usually comes from a local dairy farm and has not been touched by chemical additives.
Italians do not fear carbs…
Living in New York, I was swept away by the Great Fear: The Carb Fear . Bread, pasta, rice, flour, and all things white were absolutely out of the question. Pasta? Who eats pasta? Are you sure you want to eat that?
After almost a year living in Italy, I am still somewhat shocked to see fit Italian women standing at the caffe bar every morning with their cornetto , sometimes filled with marmellata or having lunch with a huge bowl of spaghetti .
… and you don't have to fear carbs too!
Pasta itself is a carb, yes, but haven’t you heard that carbs are necessary for energy ? Many other vitamins and nutrients require carbohydrates in order to be digested properly ; therefore if you pair pasta with certain ingredients, you are helping yourself to absorb all of the nutrients. Lets not forget that pasta has a great deal of protein , especially if you try whole wheat pasta, farro pasta, or other types of grain pasta.
The bottom line:
eat clean and take your time.
I watch these fit women at restaurants taking a pasta ‘primi’ and then a ‘secondo’ as well. Are they wolfing down their food? No.
They take their time to dine; a meal is not to be rushed.
Are they being served ridiculous portions? No. Are they snacking on artificial snacks between meals? No .
Their perspective on food and dining is far more sensible than ours in the states.
They sit down to meals, they do not race down Fifth Avenue en route to a meeting with a Sub in their hands.
They favor fresh ingredients as opposed to adding cheap, chemically enhanced bottled sauces and cans of artificially preserved foods, and they think it is morally wrong to eat foods that are not in season .