Dairy, eggs, red meat, and carbohydrates, among others, have all had a bad rap for being “unhealthy” at some point in time. The fact is, all of those foods can be part of healthy diet. Just like everything, it is important to not only eat the right type and right quantity of food to obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet as they provide us with energy, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.
Energy: Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar which is converted into energy to support bodily functions such as thinking and walking.
Fiber: Dietary fiber is part of plants that your body can’t digest or absorb. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and has the ability to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber helps move materials through the digestive systems by providing bulk.
Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients found in carbohydrates. These micronutrients help with the circulatory, immune, and endocrine systems. Some of the vitamins and minerals readily found in carbohydrate include: Vitamin A, B vitamins, and Choline.
Type of Carbohydrate
Not all carbohydrates are made equally. Unhealthy sources of carbohydrates which should only be consumed on occasion include: white bread, pastries, sodas, baked goods and other highly processed foods. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include: whole grains, fruits, beans and some vegetables.
One of my favorite sources of carbohydrates is pasta. Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. More recently pasta has been nutritionally enhanced to provide more varieties such as whole wheat, whole grain, fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, additional fiber, and additional protein to name several.
Pasta is versatile, convenient, affordable and fun to make. All you need is flour, eggs, salt and time! Once you make your dough the fun is just beginning. The stuffing – if you are making ravioli – or the sauces are where you can be come the most creative. You can make pasta vegetarian, meaty, cheese and oh so delicious. Think about it, some of the most popular sauces that go over pasta are vegetable based…tomato, squash, pumpkin, pesto, etc. This just adds to your nutritional punch to your dinner menu.
So instead of saying “no” to certain food groups learn how they can fit into your diet while learning how to make them yourselves. Part of eating is understanding not only what you are eating but enjoying the flavors and joy they bring to you. Making pasta is something that is not only fun but a great activity to for the family to do together. In the end, enjoy food and remember the food is the energy to life!