Easy Pasta Dish and Healthy Comfort Food? Yuck!

Hi everyone. I received a comment requesting options for healthy Mac n‘ Cheese type comfort food. I regret to say that these are usually not worth your time, energy or calories. Sorry, but that is just how I feel. Why eat a Mac n’ Cheese with nasty no-fat cheese that tastes like bland rubber? You deserve better! I feel angry and deprived when I eat “healthified” comfort food that tastes nothing like the real thing. How about eating nutrient rich food most of the time and have my tasty, full -fat -artery- clogging Mac n’ Cheese once every two months? That way, you can enjoy it almost guilt free.

As for other comfort food options that are a bit better for you, try a whole wheat pasta dish that doesn’t require much cheese. Pasta Alla Foriana from the Silver Palate Cookbook was first introduced to me by my sister about 20 years ago and it is still one of my favorites. I have modified it a bit to make it a little more healthy . Here it is:

Modified Pasta Alla Foriana:

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (Barilla brand has a new Whole Grain pasta that actually looks like real color pasta)
8 anchovy fillets (can also use anchovie paste-don’t be intimidated-just buy it!)
1 cup olive oil
3 TBS salt for boiling pasta
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
Black pepper
½ cup chopped walnuts (Omega 3s-good for your heart)
½ cup pine nuts
½ tsp oregano
1 cup golden raisins (high in fiber AND IRON)
6 flakes crushed red pepper
½ cup chopped parsley (look, it’s a healthy green with vitamin C, iron and beta carotine!)
Fresh Parmesan to taste

Pour olive oil into a frying pan and set over low heat. Add the bay leaf and garlic. When the garlic starts bouncing about, add anchovies, moving them around with a wooden spoon until the anchovies dissolve). Stir well. Add the parsley and oregano. Stir. Grind in a little black pepper. Finally, add the red pepper flakes, chopped walnuts, pine nuts and raisins. Stir all ingredients and let simmer over low heat. Do not allow raisins to burn.

Boil spaghetti in a gallon of salted water according to directions. Drain and immediately combine with sauce in the skillet. Transfer to bowl and garnish with parsley and parmesan. Soooooo tasty! Enjoy!
P.S. In response to a comment: Yes, canned, diced tomatoes can be used as a substitute for fresh ones, but some brands are smaller dice than others and can be mush. Del Monte is usually pretty good. It also depends on whether or not you are using it for a stew or not. You may need separate chunks and a lot of the canned stuff is just too watery.

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2 Responses

  1. I think it is interesting how sensitive the whole debate is becoming about what constitutes a “healthy” diet. Like religion and abortion, I rarely share my opinions anymore because I don’t want to get into it with someone as convinced as I am that they are right.

    That being said, and since you brought it up 🙂 I am intrigued by the latest nutrition research coming out which calls into question much of our preconceived ideas about what a healthy diet looks like. I encourage you to check out this article and see what you think: http://www.dlife.com/dLife/do/ShowContent/food_and_nutrition/what_if_saturated_fat_not_problem.html

    Also, for anyone trying to lose weight, do a search on the recently released study done by Stanford University that compares 4popular diets. The results confirm my experience (-60 lbs.)

    We prescribe to a fat and protein rich (even saturated fats- gasp!), and veggie/fruit/whole grains diet. We try to strongly limit sugar & high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, trans fats, fried foods and junk/fast food. I feel that I am feeding my family in a very nutritionally balanced way that is well thought out and sound. So… don’t hold back Alma baby, please, bring on the cheese! (and the eggs, steak, pork, cream…) 🙂

  2. just wanted to let you know i made 2 of your fish dishes for my family this week (maple soy salmon and the breaded tilapia). while my son still only eats the starch i put on the side (plain rice or buttered noodles), my 7 year old did try both and while she didn’t have seconds, i’m hoping she will eventually ask if i keep putting new foods on her plate. thanks alma!

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