Can you tell us about Pasta Fits and what you’re doing to celebrate National Pasta Month this October?
Pasta Fits, an initiative of the National Pasta Association, offers nutrition information, weekly recipes, fun facts, entertaining ideas and other timely information about pasta and meal planning for consumers. We provide information and resources to help consumers understand how pasta fits into a healthy diet, a busy lifestyle, and a tight budget.
We’re so excited that it’s National Pasta Month again! We will be sharing brand new recipes and some new blog posts about how to celebrate this month. Keep an eye on our social channels @PastaFits for everything we’ll be doing all month long.
What are the health benefits of pasta?
Pasta is a complex carbohydrate and a great source of energy. It is digested slower than other starches and as a result, provides a slow release of energy to keep you going throughout the day. Pasta’s slow-release of energy also prevents blood sugar levels from bouncing up and down, helping to stave off hunger.
Enriched pastas provide folic acid, which is essential for women of child bearing age. Folic acid has been shown to prevent birth defects in the early stages of pregnancy. One serving of dry pasta (about ½ cup uncooked yields 1 cup cooked) supplies the equivalent of roughly 100 micrograms of folic acid, or 25% of the recommended daily intake. In addition to folic acid, enriched pasta contains several other important nutrients like iron and some B-vitamins. It is a low sodium, cholesterol free food which contains little or no fat.
Do you have any tips or tricks for cooking with pasta?
Pasta Fits offers lots of helpful cooking tips! Here is one on how to cook pasta perfectly every time:
What are some nutrient-rich pairings to go in or with pasta dishes?
Pasta goes with a wide variety of healthful foods. Try mixing and matching your pasta with a leafy greens, colorful vegetables like zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower, low-fat dairy and lean proteins, including all types of fin fish and shellfish. These foods provide additional nutrition that can help build a strong heart, bones and digestive system. They can also give you another bonus: antioxidants which protect cells from damage.
What’s one of your favorite seafood pasta dishes?
This Dill Pesto and Poached Salmon with Multi-Grain Penne is perfect as either a lunch or dinner and can be whipped up in only 30 minutes!
What are some of Sam's favorite seafood dishes?
Sam does not discriminate when it comes to food generally and seafood dishes specifically. A favorite seafood dish for him is usually what’s being served that day. Within the last couple of weeks alone, he has eaten everything from sea scallops and lemon pepper shrimp with mushroom risotto to grilled catfish and salmon croquettes made from fresh salmon.
As a parent, why did you make it a point to introduce Sam to fish and seafood at a young age?
I think it’s all about what we introduce to kids at the earliest age in terms of what they will continue into the future. I actually like to cook, and cooking for my family is complicated because my wife, Stephanie, does not eat chicken.
I have tried to cut down on our overall consumption of beef for a number of reasons, and seafood is the immediate go-to meal that keeps Stephanie, Sam and yours truly happy. I have this phrase stuck in my head of how fish is “brain food” which drives me to ensure that we are setting Sam up with the diet to facilitate his overall development.
Sam eats a healthy diet of seafood and vegetables. At the age of 2, do you notice a difference in his eating habits vs. his friends?
While a lot of kids his age are in the chicken fingers/nuggets stage, Sam will ask for and be content with food like fish, green beans, sweet potatoes (even outside of the context of candied yams), and the like. It has a lot to do with our constantly introducing different vegetables before he gets a chance to say he doesn’t like something that he’s never tried.
September is National Family Meals Month, is there anything special you do with your family during dinnertime? And why do you think this time is important for families?
We always eat at the table in the kitchen and never on the couch. We have a TV in the kitchen, but we rarely have it on when we eat. Like so many other families, meal time is often one of the few times when everyone is in the same room, doing the same thing. We just try to enjoy that moment as much as possible.
Byline: Shauna L. Nosler is food writer and editor and an Indianapolis-based SNP coalition member. She writes about sustainable seafood and just about everything related to the oceans, rivers and streams on her blog, The Midwest Mermaid
Head chef and owner of Michael’s—a Dublin, Ireland eatery focused on providing customers with fresh, sustainable seafood “directly from the boats”—is on a mission to get kids eating more seafood. Known to his patrons simply as Gaz, the restaurateur didn’t grow up eating seafood, nor did he always have the fondness for seafood that he does now.
“I didn’t appreciate the seafood Ireland had until we moved to Austria—it was only when living in landlocked Austria that I realized how lucky we are,” he said.
Upon his return to Ireland, he said he started noticing how many kids wouldn’t try fish.
“I used to go to the tables and try to convince (or bribe) them to try seafood and if they didn’t like it, I would cook them whatever they wanted … it worked.” And eventually, he says kids progressed from pleading for nuggets to coming in and asking, “what’s best today the squid or the mussels.”
And it was the younger generation’s newfound interest in seafood, that got Gaz geared up to launch his Seafood September menu—a special seafood-based menu, free to kids 12 and under.
As for his culinary skills, he says they were “barren” in the early days.
“It was turkey twizzlers and chip sandwiches,” says the chef who’s been featured in Food & Wine magazine not once, but twice. “I definitely did it the hard way, going from better restaurant to better restaurant,” he said. “My Chart House days were the turning point for my love of seafood … I was very lucky to work with the Chart House gang and seeing the fresh seafood for the first time was eye opening.”
And, says Gaz, it’s been a strong theme in his cooking ever since.
Here’s a little bit more about Seafood September and a recipe that’ll have everyone eating seafood, no matter their age.
Most people feel good about seafood – yet only one in 10 people meet the goal of having seafood two times per week. Here are the top three reasons you should step up your seafood game:
So, what are you waiting for? Get started today with some of the resources below and check out these deliciously easy and affordable recipes the whole family will like.
In honor of National Seafood Month, we invite you to take the Healthy Heart Pledge and eat seafood twice a week! Click here to learn more and encourage your friends to take the pledge for a healthier heart.
1. FDA, Quantitative Assessment of the Net Effects on Fetal Neurodevelopment from Eating Commercial Fish (As Measured by IQ and also by Early Age Verbal Development in Children). Accessed 8/24/15: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ ucm393211.htm.
2. Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB. Fish intake, contaminants, and human health: evaluating the risks and the benefits. JAMA. 2006;296:1885-99
The staff, Board of Directors, and chef ambassadors of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership invite the public to join us in sharing the health impacts they have achieved through the Healthy Heart Pledge. We invite you to share your story!
Seafood Nutrition Partnership is a 501(c)3 with a mission to inspire a healthier America through partnerships and outreach to raise awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood.
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