Your Pasta Primer: Make Whole-Grain Noodles Your New Go-To
Kids in our schools love to request their favorite lunches—and spaghetti, chicken pasta bake, and buttered pasta all count as class favorites. We also happen to make these popular meals with whole-grain pasta. (You know, the browner variety that you’ve seen next to the whiter, more refined pasta types in the grocery store.)
There’s a simple reason that we serve whole-grain pasta in our centers: It’s significantly higher in fiber, B vitamins, and nutrients. That’s also good news for the family table. Since your kids are used to eating whole-grain pasta at school, it’s a great time to add this heart-healthy option to your home meals. Give it a try!
The Goodness Guide: Whole-Grain Pasta
- Good source of fiber, which is good for digestion
- Heart-healthy food
- Contains B-vitamins, which keep red blood cells, the heart and brain healthy
Warming Up to Whole-Grain Pasta at Home
Whole-grain pasta comes in so many fun shapes now and is widely available in most grocery stores.
Kids love the rotini and penne in our centers because these shapes are easy to pick up, but try fusilli, ziti, or rigatoni. At the grocery store, let your little one pick his or her favorite pasta shape. Afraid your little one may not go for it? Here's how to ease her into the process:
- Since whole-grain pasta is darker in color (because of the bran), some kids aren’t as open to trying it. Our secret? Use whole-grain pasta in a casserole or hot dish so the pasta can blend in with other food sauces or cheese.
- Get your little one used to the color, shape, and texture of whole-grain pasta by incorporating the noodles into a simple art project (such as making a pasta necklace or gluing pasta around the border of a picture).
- Whole-grain pasta holds much better and will not get as mushy as refined pasta. That means it’s an excellent choice for cold pasta dishes, which are great on-the-go snacks for the park or long car rides.
- Kids are more likely to try a new food if they are involved in the cooking process. And the good thing about pasta? It’s wonderfully easy to prepare.
Homemade Beefy Spaghetti
- 1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey for lower saturated fat)
- 8 ounces whole-grain pasta
- 10-14 ounces spaghetti or marinara sauce
- ¾ cup shredded cheese
- Optional ingredients: diced zucchini, fresh spinach, cut green beans, diced bell pepper
- Cook whole-grain pasta; set aside.
- Cook ground beef (or turkey); set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, pasta, and spaghetti sauce; add mixture to a baking bowl then top with cheese.
- Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reach 165˚F.