Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sun-dried Tomato & Avocado Pasta

I love to make a batch of the Sun-dried Tomato & Avocado Pasta on Sunday, store it in the refrigerator, and then eat it for lunch or dinner throughout the week.  It has a lot of healthy fats, fiber, and lean protein, making it an amazingly healthy meal that keeps you full for hours (but not weight-gaining-full--in fact, I usually lose weight eating this meal).  Because there are a lot of healthy fats in this meal, it is somewhat calorically-dense, so be sure to watch your portion sizes.  Some of the key healthy ingredients in this recipe are: the avocado, lean bacon, whole wheat/grain pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil.  
The avocado has: heart-healthy fats (the kind that reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol), lots of folate (great for reproductive, eye, and heart health), beta-sitosterol (reduces blood cholesterol), and potassium (reduce blood pressure).  
Turkey or veggie bacon provide healthy lean protein; just be sure to look at the sodium content as well as chemicals and preservatives in these to avoid health-damaging effects.   
Whole wheat/whole grain pasta provides tremendous health benefits over refined white pasta.  It is more filling (more fiber) and better for you, reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin-resistance over eating refined carbs (e.g. white pasta).  Sun-dried tomatoes provide  lycopene and other antioxidants (like Vitamin C) to fight free radicals, prevent cancer, and promote heart health.
Olive oil, although calorically-dense, is amazing for heart health (increases HDL "good" cholesterol, while lowering LDL "bad" cholesterol and reduces blood pressure) and weight maintenance/loss.  As a staple of the "life-lengthening" Mediterranean diet, olive oil contributes to overall improved health. 

Ingredients (~= 6 servings):
1 Box (13.5 oz) Whole Grain/Wheat Pasta (I used Ronzoni Health Harvest Fusilli, but Penne, Bow Tie, Fettuccine, or any other pasta is also fine)
1 Avocado, diced
1/2 cup Julienne-cut Sun-dried tomatoes (I cut them up even smaller)
6-8 oz Turkey or Veggie bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used Morningstar Farms Bacon Strips)
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil, extra-virgin
1 Tbsp. Sherry Cooking Wine
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Lime (Juice of 1/2 a Lime)
1 tsp. Basil

1. Dice the Avocado.  Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces. Cook and crumble the bacon.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook pasta according to package directions.
3. While the pasta cooks, combine the diced avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, cooked/crumbled bacon, olive oil, sherry cooking wine, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, and basil (i.e. all the other ingredients) in a mixing bowl.
4. Drain the pasta.
5.  Add pasta to the avocado/bacon mixture.  Toss and stir well to coat.  
6.  Serve at any temperature--immediately as hot or refrigerated.  It tastes great either way!

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