“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

Special Blog Post By: Elena Hollander, Community Nutrition Manager, and Luiza Naslausky, Nutrition Education Coordinator

We have been getting a lot of questions about the whole wheat pasta that we give to clients and so we decided to share why we LOVE whole wheat pasta and whole grains in general. Who knows? Maybe whole wheat pasta is your new favorite go to dish?!

Here’s why we think whole wheat pasta is an easy, tasty, and healthy option for your family:

EASY: Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 teaspoon of salt and the pasta. Return to a boil and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain. While whole wheat pasta generally takes slightly longer to cook than white pasta (made with white flour), this is not always the case so remember to check the package for instructions! Usually it takes about 12-14 minutes.

TASTY: Whole wheat pasta is packed with a nutty full flavor. Because of this, it’s best with bold sauces like hearty marinara or sesame ginger in a cold pasta salad. An advantage of whole wheat pasta is the presence of the wheat kernel, which retains its essential hardness when the pasta is cooked. Even when overcooked, whole wheat pasta does not get mushy and soft like white pasta. For this reason, whole wheat pasta is a good option for those cooking multiple dishes at the same time and/or who may be distracted while cooking.

HEALTHY: Whole wheat pasta has fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Its nutritional properties aid healthy digestion and keep you full for longer without spiking your blood sugar, like white pasta. In fact, whole wheat pasta typically has twice the fiber of white pasta. Fiber can help reduce blood cholesterol and is important in regulating bowel function. Moreover, the consumption of fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Whole wheat pasta is a healthy option for consuming grains. According to MyPlate, at least half of all your grains should be whole grains!

It is also important to mention that grains are divided into two groups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples of whole grains include whole wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal and brown rice. In contrast, refined grains have been milled, which removes the bran and germ and consequently the fiber, iron and vitamins in the unprocessed grains. White flour, white bread, and white rice are examples of refined grain products.

Here’s the recipe we’ve been sharing with clients this month that highlights the bold and satisfying flavors of whole wheat pasta with seasonal fresh veggies like carrots and cabbage. Enjoy!

Caramelized Cabbage with Whole-Wheat Penne and Parmesan

6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat penne
2 tablespoons olive/canola oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 cups sliced green cabbage
2 carrots, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add pasta; cook 7 to 9 minutes or until al dente. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds or until beginning to brown. Remove garlic from pan; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add cabbage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, black pepper, and carrots; cook 2 minutes. Stir in pasta, reserved 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, and reserved garlic. Stir in lemon rind and 1/4 of the cheese. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 of cheese.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 2 cups)

***Catch up on our past Nutrition Newbie posts.