Carb lover's guide to nutrition

September 9, 2009 4:59:59 PM PDT
Eat what you love and make smart choices.

A Carb-Lover's Guide to Nutrition
Use your noodle when it comes to eating carbs. Although demonized during the 'low carb' craze, they are our body's main source of energy: they create the glucose that fuels our muscles and brains. Cooking Light offers that truth about noodles, potatoes, breads and whole grains and why we shouldn't fear them.

What can grains do for you?
There is some evidence that whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and irregularity.

Carbs to look for:

Noodles: Yes, noodles can be more nutritious than you might think. That's because some of the best pasta is made from 100% semolina wheat (check the label to be sure). Semolina is a high-protein wheat. And one cup of cooked semolina pasta offers almost as much fiber as a slice of whole wheat bread! And more protein than a large egg!

Bread: Bread varies wildly in nutritional value. Beware of nutrient-poor breads made only with enriched white flour. Instead, opt for whole grain breads, like those from whole wheat or millet. Full of flavor, they also contain the most nutritious parts of the grain and are full of B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Potatoes: Potatoes are the most misunderstood of the high-carb foods. But the naked potato is a natural health food. They provide energy and are high in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant.

Rice: Wholesome and nutritious, low in calories and fat, sodium-free, rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber, it's no wonder that rice is a staple food for a large segment of the world's population. Both white and brown rice can be nutritious. In the US, most white rice is enriched with B vitamins and iron. Brown rice, which has only the outer hull removed, contains B vitamins, iron and is also an excellent source of fiber.

Quinoa: Though it is fairly new in the American diet, quinoa has been used as a staple in other cultures for thousands of years. Quinoa's key nutritional benefit is it's high level of lysine, an amino acid necessary for the synthesis of protein... making it one of the best non-meat sources of protein. It is also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, potassium, and fiber.

Tartines with Cheese, Peppers and Chard
A tartine is an open-faced sandwich. This recipe demands a hearty bread (one topped with seeds and intact grains adds a nutrition bonus); it's the best match for the herbed cheese topping.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 (1.5-ounce) slices rustic 100 percent whole-grain bread
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese
Method:
  1. Preheat broiler.

  2. Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel and cut into strips.

  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chard, salt, crushed red pepper, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 11/2 minutes or until chard wilts, stirring frequently.

  4. Arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet; broil 3 minutes on each side. Combine chives, thyme, cheese, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl spread 2 teaspoons cheese mixture over one side of each bread slice. Arrange roasted pepper slices evenly over cheese; top with chard mixture.
Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 2 tartines).

CALORIES 323; FAT 14.4g (sat 5.1g, mono 6.3g, poly 1g); PR OTE IN 12.3g; CARB 43.4g; FIBER 15.2g; CHOL 13mg; IRON 4.2mg; SODIUM 718mg; CALC 330mg

Tomato and Walnut Pesto Rotini

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces uncooked rotini (corkscrew-shaped pasta)
  • 5 ounces uncooked multigrain rotini (corkscrew-shaped pasta)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Method:
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Gradually add oil through food chute with food processor on; process until smooth.

  2. Cook pastas according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Combine pastas, pesto mixture, tomatoes, reserved cooking liquid, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl; toss well. Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 1 cup).
CALORIES 341; FAT 13.6g (sat 2.8g, mono 5.8g, poly 4g); PR OTE IN 13.8g; CARB 44.3g; FIBER 4.7g; CHOL 9mg; IRON 2.9mg; SODIUM 482mg; CALC 163mg

About Lia Huber:
Lia Huber is a contributor for Cooking Light magazine. Her articles and recipes have appeared in Cooking Light as well as Prevention, Health, Natural Health, Hemispheres and Fitness. She has appeared live on FOX television and her work has been featured on CNN.com, MSNBC.com and WebMD.

During the course of her career, Lia has contributed several hundred recipes to nearly a dozen publications, and her approachable and curious style combined with a you-can-do-it-too attitude has inspired millions of readers. Now, Lia looks forward to using the experience she's amassed both professionally and personally to develop a platform for teaching people how to nourish themselves, body and soul. Her goal is to help people get past the notions that healthy means deprivation and enjoyment equals excess and show them how to live richly in the fertile ground in between.

In addition to writing for publication, Lia has helped several top companies in the food, wine and travel industries find their voices, from taglines and positioning strategies to ghostwriting and ad copy. In 2007, Lia entered the realm of new media writing about food, wine and life in wine country as the first-person author of Clos du Bois' Swirling Notion blog.

Lia received an MBA from University of Florida, a BA in Communication with a minor in French from Tulane University, and has studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in Napa Valley. She recently finished her first novel. Lia lived in New York, New Orleans, Paris, Greece, Costa Rica and San Francisco before putting down roots in Healdsburg with her husband, Christopher, and daughter, Noemi.


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