When you see these healthy, satisfying pasta salads...
You will have to make them! Pasta salads are a great side dish or meal depending on your outlook. I could easily eat a pasta salad for dinner by first creating a layer of organic greens - could be baby spinach, baby kale or mixed greens. Pasta salads are very filling and nutritious when made with organic pasta.
Some people may be afraid of carbohydrates but I'm not. Our bodies need carbohydrates balanced with protein and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. (Source: Harvard School of Public Health) The quality of the carbohydrate is the key.
Stay away from highly processed refined carbohydrates and look for high quality carbohydrates like quinoa and whole wheat. Also, look for organic sources of good carbohydrates. That way you get all of the benefits without the pesticides and chemicals found in non-organic pasta. It is easy to find pastas made of all different types of high quality carbohydrates. You can really amp up the nutritional value of a pasta salad by using pastas made from quinoa, chickpeas or lentils. The cooking time may vary but the amount of traditional pasta that is used in any recipe can be swapped out for the same amount of any other variety of pasta.
Another great thing about pasta salads is you can substitute the add-ins depending on what is available during the season, allergy restrictions or someone in the household who just doesn't care for an ingredient. Anything goes when making a pasta salad. Plus, they are great for barbecues, family gatherings and office parties. Below are 5 really creative pasta salads.
If you try any of them, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heatherleehurst and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing your takes on the recipes I share!
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Now let's get to those recipes!
Healthy Chicken Pasta Salad from The Recipe Critic. This is a great example of how a pasta salad can be served as the main course for dinner. It is easy because it calls for a rotisserie chicken already prepared (make sure it is organic). But if you have the time, I like to cook the chicken myself. That way I know exactly what is being put on the chicken. But that's just me! This recipe includes a homemade dressing. I prefer to make a dressing versus buying something from the store because store-bought dressing is loaded with added sugar! Click here for the recipe.
Greek Tortellini Salad from Spend with Pennies. The tortellini is such a filling pasta that it easily can be Meatless Monday option if you are looking to cut back on meat in your families meals. Tossed with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and olives, this pasta salad will become a family favorite. Click here for the recipe.
Southwest Black Bean Pasta Salad by Veggie Inspired. This is for the more daring cook who wants to test the limits of their families and friends willingness to try something new. This is a really healthy pasta salad including black beans, avocado, zucchini, and tomatoes. Plus, it calls for a homemade jalapeno creamy ranch. It is called "creamy" but it is non-dairy. The creamy texture comes from cashews. I kid you not! If you haven't tried this trick, it is a must. The dressing link is within the recipe, found by clicking here.
Steak & Caramelized Onions Arugula and Penne Pasta from Skinny Taste. This recipe used a mixed grain penne pasta to make this recipe gluten-free. This is a great compromise if you have a meat-eater who absolutely must have meat at every meal. Plus, the steak and onions can be made ahead of time making this a quick dinner option during the hectic work week. The arugula and penne is tossed with a very basic balsamic vinaigrette, allowing the flavors of the steak to shine through. Click here for the recipe.
Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad from Gimme Some Oven. Did I really just write Ramen Noodle Salad? Yes I did! I was so intrigued that I googled Organic Ramen Noodles and you can buy organic on amazon! I am so trying this salad. But anyway, the salad comes together really quickly because it uses a pre-bagged cole slaw mix for the cabbage (brilliant). The noodles are baked not boiled and the seasoning packet is not used. Add-in's are avocado, edamame and mango! Click here for the recipe.
I hope this post about pasta salads has given you some ideas on how incorporate them into your healthy eating lifestyle. Pasta salads can easily make a great lunch or dinner.
Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heatherleehurst and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag if you make any of the above. I love seeing your takes on the recipes I share!