Last week, however, I decided to take a peek inside and was surprised that the book contained mostly photos with interesting commentary and nutritional facts on the side. I ended up reading it page-to-page and now carry it in my purse as a reference (since I eat out 3x a day when traveling).
The premise of the book is to continue eating the foods you love -whether at home or at restaurants- but to be informed in order to make really simple yet smart decisions that could have significant nutritional impact.
I decided to apply some learnings from the book to "makeover" one of my favorite easy n' inexpensive 15 minute meals - pasta with sausage and baby spinach.
Original Recipe (1 serving):
- 1/8th box (2 oz) Barilla regular pasta
- 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil Sauce
- 1/2 link Hilshire Farms Beef Smoked Sausage
- 1 cup uncooked baby spinach leaves (I buy the $1.99 bag from TJ's)
Healthy Revised Recipe (1 serving):
- 1/8th box Ronzoni Healthy Harvest pasta
- 1/2 cup Classico Tomato & Basic Sauce
- 1/2 link Archer Farms Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage
- 1 cup uncooked baby spinach leaves
**Optional: 1 clove garlic, minced, and 1 tbsp freshly grated cheese of your choice**
(Hah! Didn't even realize the book was in the background until now)Pictured: Approx. 1 serving. I typically eat almost 2 servings because, well, I love food.
Directions: Chop garlic and sausage while waiting for water to boil. Sautee garlic with sausage while pasta is cooking, until fragrant. Drain pasta, then stir together all ingredients at medium heat until sauce is heated through. Garnish with cheese. I eat this with a dot of Sriracha hot sauce and a glass of soymilk.
Click "Read More" to see the "before-and-after" nutritional information.
Clearly I took this very seriously lol, and typed up my before-and-after nutritional information (click the chart to enlarge) just to see whether the changes really made any difference. Note: delicious cheese not included in chart.
Sources: www.thedailyplate.com and my pantry.
Not bad at all...and I daresay the flavors even improved. The optional cheese is obviously not "healthy" but no way am I going to sacrifice my freshly-grated parmesan or romano : ) There are 3 simple replacements in this dish:
1. Use whole wheat pasta. I don't precisely understand why whole wheat is better for you, but it's got something to do with less processing and more fiber. The book's #1 choice is Ronzoni Smart Taste.
2. Be conscious of the sodium and sugar in pre-made sauce. According to the book, many jarred tomato sauces are laden with sodium and possibly extra sugar. I typically eat Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil thinking it's decent for you, and was quite surprised to discover that it contains 540 mg of sodium per half cup. Newman's Own Tomato & Basil sauce contains 620 mg per half cup! Eeks!
3. Replace beef or pork sausage with chicken or turkey. I usually use Trader Joe's brand, but I discovered that Target's Archer Farms actually makes one of the best chicken sausages with hardly any fat and relatively low sodium.
Hope this post wasn't too boring. Exercise, nutrition, and fine cooking are definitely not my realms of expertise, but it is my resolution to learn more this year. In order to look good in pretty clothes, a girl has gotta be happy, healthy and fit. I would love more healthy-eating suggestions from readers or any tips on staying fit.