Eat Well, Have Fun, and Keep Moving: Summer of Healthy Living
Pasta Fits fans flooded our recent “Pasta Fits Me” Pinterest contest with wonderful images of how they are creating healthy meals, staying active and making memories this summer. Registered Dietitian Diane Welland offers the following tips reflecting the top trends seen from our contest’s leading boards. Read below for some tips on healthy living.
Color is Key:
When preparing a meal or searching for a recipe, take note of the variety of color in the ingredients. Ripe red tomatoes, dark leafy greens, bright yellow corn – color offers a diversity of flavor, nutrients and makes for a beautiful meal. Importantly, when selecting fruits or vegetables, those that are deeper in color – whether green, orange, yellow or red – tend to be more nutritious, loaded with vitamins like A and C, minerals like potassium and magnesium and fiber. Think spinach, sweet potatoes and beets. It is these brightly colored, nutrient-dense foods that offer more protective health benefits against cancer and other diseases, as well as help control calorie intake and blood sugar, due to an assortment of plant compounds. So while monochromatic style may suit your design palate, let your appetite go for the rainbow!
Party with Pasta:
Summer offers opportunities to gather with friends or family and enjoy a more relaxed schedule. Our Pinterest entries noted festive dinner parties as one way to celebrate the summer and make memories. Pasta offers an affordable, easy and delicious way to host a fabulous dinner party for two or twenty! One idea includes a pasta bar offering a variety of shapes, sauces and toppings, such as beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts, so guests can make their own customized plate for family-style fun! Many pasta dishes can also be made in advance leaving you more time to hang out with guests. Making a pasta salad like the Tortellini salad not only saves time, but also gives the flavors a chance to develop, making this dish even more appealing.
Make It A Meal:
According to MyPlate recommendations, a balanced meal contains appropriate portions of at least four food groups: vegetables, protein, grains and dairy or fruit (all five is ideal). While it’s easy to meet your grain group with pasta, it’s just as easy to add in protein, vegetables and dairy to create a healthy and wholesome, complete dinner all in a one-pot meal. Consider offering chicken and asparagus with penne pasta, topped with a sprinkling of sharp Parmesan cheese, shrimp and sautéed spinach over angel hair topped with feta cheese and lemon or on the sweeter side, a pasta fruit salad dressed with a Greek yogurt “sauce”. Mix and match to create any combination of your own.
Do it Together:
Whether it’s an evening hike, a playful game of catch or making a meal, doing activities together with loved ones is a key contributor to healthy and happy living. And when it comes to nutrition, research shows that when children get involved in selecting or preparing a meal, they are more likely to eat what they have created. Take the kids to the market, introduce them to unusual produce and teach them to select the best quality vegetables and fruit; if possible, you can even give them a taste. At home, let them help you assemble a cold pasta dish with a variety of ingredients to their liking. Or print out an easy-to-follow, four- or five-step recipe where kids can take the lead on preparation. Getting the whole family involved in preparing a homemade meal is a great way to foster family bonding and tradition as well as teach good nutrition and eating habits.
Take a look at our ‘Pasta Fits Me’ Pinterest winner and judge’s favorite boards for more great ideas this summer: