- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

It’s almost impossible to escape low-carbohydrate mania. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find books and magazine articles suggesting you avoid pasta to lose weight.

But it’s very hard to eliminate this carbohydrate. If you’re like me, you serve pasta to soak up a sauce in a dish of chicken or beef, and the meal seems pretty skimpy without it. Instead of omitting pasta, switch to whole-grain versions.

Whole grains are high in dietary fiber, so you feel full while eating less. In a recent study from Harvard University, middle-age women who ate more whole grains gained less weight over a decade’s time than women who had the most modest whole-grain intake.

Take a look at recipes that call for spaghetti or other pasta. You’ll probably see opportunities for substituting the whole-wheat version, which has almost triple the dietary fiber.

With its nutty taste and chewy texture, whole-wheat pasta is excellent in entree salads and in meat or poultry dishes that are cooked in spicy sauces or combined with vegetables. I don’t recommend whole-wheat pasta with cream sauce, but that’s probably not the perfect food for a diet regimen in any case.

Whole-wheat pasta and shrimp salad

Dressing (recipe follows)

12 ounces shrimp, cooked, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

4 ounces cooked and drained whole-wheat spaghetti or other pasta

1 jalapeno chili, cored, seeded and minced (see note)

1 cup chopped carrots

½ cup diced cucumber

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Salt and pepper

Prepare dressing and set aside.

Combine shrimp, spaghetti or other pasta, chili, carrots, cucumber, basil and chives in a serving bowl. Pour in dressing and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Note: Eat a small piece of chili. If it isn’t hot enough for your taste, add ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes to the salad.

DRESSING:

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

11/2 tablespoons soy sauce

11/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and oil in a small bowl. Stir well.

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