Ok, lets discuss this question that I keep getting asked once people know the family business.
‘Doesn’t pasta make you bloat and put on weight?’
I can only give you my experience and my own personal belief as I am not a qualified nutritionist however having spent many years in Italy with my family and seeing many Italians who eat pasta daily, I really feel here in the UK we must look at why so many people think that pasta is bad or fattening!
Let me take you back to when I first was welcomed into my Italian family. I was 19 and had never been to the country before. My palate was limited but I was never fussy and would try anything. I will always remember that first lunch of at least 7 courses, with all the family shouting and laughing over each other and taking time to enjoy each small course and discussing in great detail who had grown the aubergine and whether the hand made pasta was cooked to perfection ‘al dente’. We ate like this every day for 2 weeks and yet when I came home I was slightly lighter on the scales and felt energized with no bloated tummy.
Within a week and having mass produced dried pasta for just 1 meal I was back to feeling uncomfortable and heavy. This made me really look at the Mediterranean diet and understand the benefits.
To me I really don’t believe we have an issue with Gluten. Of course we have small numbers with a medical condition that need to stay away but this issue has only been in the main stream over the last say 20 years. Our UK diet has changed so much since I was a child. Can you believe that when I was a teenager in the 80’s there was no such thing as a sandwich bar? Lunch was usually home cooked or real school meals created from cooks. We of course walked to school! I even remembered the launch of microwaves and my dad wouldn’t buy one as he said they caused diseases that we didn’t know about yet!
Where I am going with this is quite simply when you look at most peoples diet in the last 20 years or more, it has become unnaturally wheat, carb and sugar heavy. Breakfast – toast and cereals. Lunch – sandwiches. Dinner (much later than 6pm) A huge plate of pasta or pizza. Do this of course over many years then it isn’t surprising that our bodies are becoming intolerant to all this wheat.
In southern Italy we ate Breakfast – fresh fruit and milky coffee with a small savory biscotti. Lunch was the main meal and always started with a small bowl of pasta with a tomato based sauce – then vegetables, then a piece of fish, then salads, then some ricotta, then fruit such as figs or melon. Dinner – normally a light broth and some fried peppers or left overs from the lunch.
I know we cant go and eat like the Italians do, with their long lunches and siesta’s but I believe if we just have a more balanced diet then fresh pasta has no negative effect on our system. I must admit that dried pasta can still bloat my stomach so I only eat our fresh hand made pasta as Lucio explained to me that he uses much less semolina and this helps digestion. It certainly works for me. Anyone attending Lucio’s pasta class will learn the differences so I wont go into it now, but you will fall back in love with pasta I’m sure.
So, pasta can be healthy and enjoyed. Just don’t cover it in cream, use a tomato based sauce with no added sugar, and keep portions small, and on the day you have pasta then avoid cereals for breakfast and swap the sandwich for a salad or soup. Easy!
Written by Janine Corciulo