Q&A with Rachael Hartley, RD and Food Blogger of Avocado a Day Nutrition
For our first June Pasta Spotlight, we chatted all things health and pasta with RD and Food Blogger, Rachael Hartley of Avocado a Day Nutrition. Rachael explained why carbs are so important for a healthy lifestyle, how pasta fits into a healthy meal, and how to eat healthy when traveling. Keep reading for all this and more!
1. How do you incorporate pasta into your healthy meals?
Pasta is always my go-to when I need a quick and satisfying weeknight meal – which is always! Usually I use pasta to make one dish meals, tossing it with roasted or sautéed vegetables, an easy source of protein, like white beans or canned salmon, and something saucy like jarred tomato sauce or garlic and olive oil.
2. What kinds of pairings or accompaniments do you recommend for a pasta meal?
I like to think of pasta as a formula meal. I round it out with lots of veggies to provide volume and nutrients, and a source of protein and healthy fats to make it more filling. And of course, don’t forget flavor enhancers, like olives, fresh herbs, or roasted garlic.
3. You’ve mentioned that to eat healthy, one should not focus on cutting out a certain macronutrient for weight loss. Can you explain why eating carbs is so important for a healthy lifestyle?
Carbs have gotten such a bad rep, but they are SO important, both for physical health, and for getting pleasure from eating, an often overlooked facet of health. From a nutrition standpoint, carbs are most important for brain health, since the brain requires glucose (aka carbohydrate) to function. Anyone who has done a low carb diet knows how foggy you feel on it – that’s basically your brain being starved of energy.
I think part of the reason carbs have such a negative stigma is because most people associate carbs with high sugar foods and processed snack foods, but carbs are actually just the source of energy found in plant foods, like beans, grains, fruits and vegetables. So when you think carbs, think plants!
4. We know from your bio that you enjoy traveling. How do you find healthy, nutritious meals when traveling?
Yes, I love to travel! In fact, as I’m doing this interview, I’m in Japan, with a belly full of the most delicious ramen noodle soup I’ve ever had. When I travel, my main priority is eating the tastiest food possible, especially local specialties that I can’t get back home. I never want to miss out on an eating experience because I’m trying to be “healthy.”
But at the same time, I try to stay in touch with what my body needs and wants. I find that after a few days of eating rich foods on vacation, my body starts to crave more vegetable centric meals. And I love to seek out different types of local produce and even explore the farmers markets. Often, we’ll stay somewhere with a kitchen so we can cook a big farmer’s market feast!
The cool thing about authentically exploring other cultures cuisines is that traditional diets are often quite healthy. So if you avoid the tourist traps and eat where the locals do, you’ll be rewarded with a meal that is both tasty and nutritious.
5. Finally, can you share one of your pasta recipes with us? *Please include a hi-res image.
One of my favorite easy weeknight meals is this mushroom and white bean pasta with pancetta! The pancetta and fresh tarragon adds a ton of flavor, and the mushrooms are my favorite vegetable to eat with pasta.
About Rachael Hartley:
Rachael Hartley is a Columbia, SC based private practice dietitian and food and wellness blogger at Avocado A Day Nutrition. In her practice, she works with clients locally and virtually specializing in intuitive eating, non-diet approaches to wellness, digestive disorders and disordered eating. On her blog, she shares satisfying and nutritious recipes and inspiration for a life well nourished. Connect with her on Instagram or Facebook.