you are what you eat

Low fat Penne and Cheese


One of my daughter’s favourite dishes is macaroni and cheese, only I prefer doing it with Penne Pasta. As you can see, her little fingers waiting to dig in! My girls have become so used to the camera at the supper table, today they insisted on me taking photos of their meal! Here is the recipe to her favourite dish:


200g macaroni/ other pasta of your choice

25g butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 cups fat free milk

2 cups grated, reduced fat/ slimmer’s cheese

Chopped parsley

Black pepper

Grated Nutmeg


–       Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling water according to packet instruction until tender and cooked.

–       Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add flour. Cook, stirring for 1 minute over medium heat until flour and butter combine.

–       Gradually stir in the fat free milk, stirring until smooth. Stir gently until the mixture comes just to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese until melted and smooth.

–       Transfer the pasta back to a large pot. Pour over the cheese sauce. Grind over with black pepper, nutmeg to taste. Please note, my recipe does not cal for salt as i use salted butter and cheese is also salty. Taste before adding salt.

–       Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

–       Freeze leftover on the day of cooking. Defrost and add 2 tablespoons milk to the pasta to reconstitute the sauce.

Tips to ensure you cook your pasta well:

– Not using a big enough cooking pan. If you do not use enough water to cook pasta then the water tends to become very cloudy (from the natural starches in the pasta), the pasta will not have enough space to move around and cook properly and very often it will stick to the side of the pan. Because the starch is not diluted enough, the pasta will become sticky and unpleasant. You will need at least 4 litres of water for 500 grams of pasta.

– Adding olive oil to the cooking pan. If you have used enough water and stirred your pasta regularly as it is cooking, it will not stick together. So there’s no need to add oil.

– Salt. I do not boil my pasta with salt but accordion to authentic Italian method, 1 tsp per litre of water is needed. The unpleasant taste of the salt on the pasta does not appeal to me as I am very salt sensitive.

– Adding the pasta to the water before it has boiled. Pasta needs to be cooked in boiling water. Make sure that when you add the pasta to the pan the water is on a rolling boil (ie boiling very hard). Also make sure that if it stops boiling when you add the pasta that you get the water boiling again as quickly as possible. If you add pasta to cold water and then heat up the water, the pasta will not cook properly.

– These are interesting Pasta cooking facts. For more info visit: http://www.cookingindex.com/info/18/features/how-to-cook-pasta-properly.htm

Nutrition Facts:

The nutritional value of a pasta dish varies depending on the type of pasta, the serving size and the different toppings used. Almost all pasta is made from durum or wheat, which is rich in carbohydrates. There are various types of carbohydrates present in the food you eat, but the main ones are starches, sugars such as glucose and fructose, as well as fiber. Pasta contains all of these different carbohydrates in varying proportions.

Pasta has a low GI because of the physical entrapment of ungelatinised starch granules in a sponge-like network of protein (gluten) molecules in the pasta dough. Pasta is unique in this regard. As a result, pastas of any shape and size have a fairly low GI (30 to 60). Asian noodles such as hokkein, udon and rice vermicelli also have low to intermediate GI values.

Pasta should be cooked al dente (‘firm to the bite’). And this is the best way to eat pasta – it’s not meant to be soft. It should be slightly firm and offer some resistance when you are chewing it. Overcooking boosts the GI. Although most manufacturers specify a cooking time on the packet, don’t take their word for it. Start testing about 2-3 minutes before the indicated cooking time is up. But watch that glucose load. While al dente pasta is a low GI choice, eating too much will have a marked effect on your blood glucose. A cup of al dente pasta combined with plenty of mixed vegetables and herbs can turn into three cups of a pasta-based meal and fits easily into any adult’s daily diet. (information taken from the GI Foundation)

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2014 by in Pastas and tagged , , , .
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