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Pasta Month

Pasta Month

October is national pasta month with one day, October 26, designated World Pasta Day. According to the National Pasta Association, the average American consumes close to 20 pounds of pasta every year. Are these carbs all that bad for you? Not necessarily.

A balanced, calorie in/calorie out, diet complete with exercise is what is most important. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “Choose MyPlate” campaign recommends that a quarter of your plate be filled with grains, with at least half of the grains being whole grain.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that the average American should consume six servings of grains each day. A half cup of cooked pasta is considered the equivalent of one serving.  Of the six recommended servings, at least three servings should be whole grain. This maximizes the nutrient potential of the grain and reduces the risk of some chronic diseases.

Pasta is low in sodium, cholesterol free and is a source for complex carbohydrates that gives a slow release of energy. By choosing the whole grain variety, up to 25 percent of a daily fiber requirement can be met. Pasta also has a low Glycemic Index (GI) and doesn’t cause blood sugar to rise as quickly after consuming as some higher GI foods will.

If you are looking for a reason to celebrate pasta, here are some interesting facts that might persuade you:

  • Americans eat approximately 20 pounds of pasta each year. This may sounds outrageous but in Italy, the average person eats 51 pounds - salute!
  • Pasta is the ideal delivery system for nutritious foods! It boosts energy, satisfies hunger, tastes great and can be prepared in countless ways. It's great to pair with fiber-filled vegetables and beans, heart-healthy fish and oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed poultry and lean meats.
  • The first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn in 1848. If you think it was an Italian that started the U.S. industry, you are wrong; it was a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega.
  • There are over 600 different shapes of pasta which can be made into an infinite number of meals. With pasta varieties ranging from fusilli and ziti to farfalle and orecchiette, it's hard to pick a favorite. In 2011, Americans named spaghetti as their favorite shape.
  • 54% of Americans keep 1-4 packages of pasta in their pantry at all times. An easy meal to toss together, a pasta dish can create a delicious and nutritious last-minute meal when the pantry is otherwise bare.
  • The National Pasta Association (NPA) is the trade association for the United States pasta industry. Founded in 1904, the NPA's mission is to increase the consumption of pasta, to promote the development of sound public policy, and to act as a center of knowledge for the industry and the consumer

    Celebrate National Pasta Month with a quicker version of a long-time favorite.

    Overnight Lasagna

    1 lb. ground beef

    1 onion (chopped 12 cup)

    1 garlic clove (crushed)

    1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves (chopped or you can use 2 tablespoons dried)

    1 tbsp. sugar

    2 tbsps. fresh basil (chopped, 1 12 teaspoons dried, leaves)

    1 tsp. seasoning salt

    16 oz. tomatoes (undrained)

    10 3/4 oz. condensed tomato soup

    6 oz. canned tomatoes (paste)

    2 1/2 cups water

    12 lasagna noodles (uncooked 12 ounces)

    12 oz. cream style cottage cheese

    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)

    1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

    Cook beef, onion and garlic in heavy pan over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in parsley, sugar, basil, seasoned salt, tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato paste and water; break up tomatoes. Heat to just boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

    Spread 2 cups of the sauce mixture in ungreased rectangular baking dish, 13 x 9 x 2 inches. Top with 4 noodles. Spread half of the cottage cheese over noodles; top with 2 cups of the sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 4 noodles, the remaining cottage cheese, 2 cups of the sauce mixture and the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining noodles and sauce mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate up to 12 hours.

    To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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