Fit to Eat: Healthy Pastas

Revamped recipes for lasagna, linguine, and more make it easy to find virtue in beloved noodle dishes.

"Life is the combination of magic and pasta," Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini famously said. But the best pasta dishes possess magic of their own. Dried pasta itself -- a mix of nothing more than durum wheat and water -- seems miraculous in its almost infinite variety of forms, including scallop-edged sheets of lasagna and intricately whorled shells. Tossed with other ingredients, pasta also has a marvelous ability to absorb and meld flavors.

Too bad the low-carb phenomenon gave pasta such a bad reputation. Well-balanced meals can, and should, include carbohydrates, which provide quick energy. "And pasta serves as a perfect base for dishes spilling over with vegetables, which most Americans need to eat more of," says Amy Myrdal Miller, a registered dietitian at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Saint Helena, California. Remember, a small amount of meat can go a long way in a bowl of noodles.

Tossing pasta with vegetables, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats such as olive oil has another benefit: It tempers the spikes in blood-sugar levels that pasta and other foods with refined carbohydrates can induce. Opt for whole-wheat pasta, which delivers two to three times the fiber of the regular kind and keeps you feeling fuller longer, and you're even better off.

These recipes include a little bit of everything: whole-wheat and traditional noodles, meat, fish, and vegetables -- magic, indeed.

Recipes to Try:

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