What kid doesn’t love pasta? Whether it’s slurping on s’ghetti or wolfing down mac and cheese, most mini- diners can’t wait to hunker down over a big bowl of noodles. So this handy carb makes for good family noshing.
But what about those carbs? We all know that carbohydrates are out of the closet and have shed that nasty image problem. In other words, a carb can be a kid’s best friend, right?
Definitely, says registered dietitian Shefali Raja of Surrey, BC. Carbs are the fuel for healthy children. Without them, kids wouldn’t be kids — kicking up a ruckus and running when they could be walking. “Most importantly, the brain really counts on carbs,” she says. “They help a child to think clearly or push himself to complete a run.”
It sounds pretty straightforward. So what pasta should you pick? Here’s the lowdown on some of the familiar faces:
Cut and dried
You know the drill. It’s made from refined wheat (durum wheat, actually) in a specific grind (called semolina) and water. That’s it. Lots of shapes, from macaroni to manicotti, are available but, no matter the design, the nutritional stats are the same: a 1 cup serving has 211 calories, 1.4 g fat, 2.7 g fibre, 9.9 g protein, along with iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate. Not bad.
Hoping to find more nutrients in green, orange or red pasta? It’s true — the colour comes naturally from powdered spinach, tomatoes or beets added during processing. But the nutritional advantage is minimal. Catelli Bistro spinach lasagna and fettuccine is above average, with 20f the daily value of vitamin A and 8 0aily value of calcium. (Psst! Better to add half a cup of cooked spinach to the pasta sauce. It has almost twice the vitamin A you need for the day.)
Fresh pasta sold in the refrigerated section is usually made from refined durum semolina flour (exception: Olivieri whole wheat nested linguine), water and eggs. The stats are similar to dried pasta except, due to the egg, it contains cholesterol and because it has a higher water content, it has (by weight) slightly fewer calories and carbohydrates than dried. Fresh pasta tends to have a silkier, fuller mouth feel and richer taste.
Dried egg noodles used in homemade chicken noodle soup or tuna casseroles are on par with pasta, calorie-wise. In a comparison between Catelli egg noodles and Olivieri fresh fettuccine, the cooked egg noddles had more egg, protein and cholesterol than the fresh pasta. So despite the extra fat, egg noddles are a good option — especially when there’s not much other protein in the meal.
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