Starchy carbohydrates get a lot of bad press. High in calories but low in nutrients, many health conscious people avoid ‘em like the plague. Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I’ve witnessed grain-haters contemptuously flick the most nominal smattering of croutons away from their healthy greens and recoil in horror at the mere mention of pasta as an entrée.
But in Italy, it’s a different story.
Crusty white bread and bruschetta, those simple (but oh-so tasty) toasty appetizers, are commonly ordered at the commencement of a meal then chased with a dish of the country’s most adored cuisine: pasta!
Long, ribbon-like with fresh herbs and tomato or short and tubular tossed with Pecorino and prosciutto, the Italians have about as much chance of giving up their carbohydrates as do the Americans have at winning the World Cup.
And why should they? And furthermore, why should we?
Our body’s fuel of choice is the carbohydrate. Pasta and bread are relatively inexpensive; they are satisfying, plus they are a good source of energy.
A thin slice of toast or a small serving of pasta is not gonna make or break an active persons’ caloric intake. The keywords there are small and active. Those Italians have it figured out; they share plates, family style, and they walk everywhere!
Plus, they are expert at doing it right. Pasta prepared al dente takes more effort to chew, which keeps the belly satisfied longer. The addition of a healthy fat, like olive oil, and a little protein helps to slow down digestion. Cooking pasta until it is “just done” keeps the natural sugars from entering the blood stream in one fell swoop, thus avoiding that crash and burn of a sugar rush.
By law, Italian pasta has to be made with 100-percent Durum wheat, which contains a higher percent of protein than many other varieties. Add some fresh, all-natural ingredients and you’ve got one wholesome entrée.
The natives of that country would disagree, but you don’t have to live in Italy to get high-quality starchy carbs. Just be choosy, and buy the best quality of natural ingredients you can afford.
In the meantime, keep moving, keep it in moderation and buon appetito!
Are pasta and bread a mainstay of your diet? —Karen