Get fit the Italian way

Tuscan Chicken with Pasta
Tuscan Chicken with Pasta

YEARS ago, when Italian immigrants arrived, they showed us many ways of cooking with pasta that we had never heard of.

Today, pasta is a regular on most Aussie dinner plates. They say that pasta is the miracle food and we should be eating more. So what's so great about pasta?

  1. 1. Pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates
  2. 2. Has a low glycemic index and is economical
  3. 3. Pasta is a healthy choice for people with diabetics and also a favourite with body builders and athletes
  4. 4. It goes with most vegetables and protein and is easy to cook
  5. 5. Pasta is cheap and can help stretch a meal for those on a budget.

This could explain why it is one of Australia's most popular meal choices. What I love about pasta is that it's so low in fat.

Where people can go wrong is what they put on top of the pasta, such as high-fat creamy sauces, loads of high-fat cheese, oil and fatty meats. Adding such high saturated fat foods to pasta ruins its health benefits and can quickly pack on the kilos.

My favourite way and the healthiest way to enjoy pasta is to make tomato-based sauces and add lots of vegetables.

Serve with a big bowl of salad and you can't go wrong.

Italian recipes tend to favour the use of garlic and the health benefits, when eaten on a daily basis, may help to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol. When fighting a cold, garlic can act as a nasal decongestant, which is why garlic tablets are so popular during winter. Garlic is also known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.

The worst thing you can do is over or undercook pasta. If you struggle to cook the perfect al dente pasta, the best way is make sure you have the water boiling when you add the raw pasta, have plenty of room for the pasta to expand and cook, and then test from around 8-10 minutes.

Pasta looks and tastes better if it is not overcooked, so keep testing every couple of minutes until it is just cooked through, then pour into a colander and rinse with hot water to remove any leftover starch.

Don't be too heavy-handed when serving pasta: I recommend for women trying to lose weight to have one cup, and men one-and-a- half cups. Ciao.


Tuscan Chicken with Pasta

Serves 4


1½ cups dried penne pasta

500g skinless chicken breasts

1 bunch fresh asparagus

cooking spray

2 teaspoons crushed garlic (in jar)

1 cup zucchini, sliced

1 cup capsicum, sliced

1 cup onion, diced

2 x 425g cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons no added salt tomato paste

2 teaspoons salt reduced

chicken stock powder

¾ teaspoon dried mixed herbs

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese


Cook pasta as instructed on pasta packet. Leave to one side.

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cut 3cm off ends of asparagus spears and throw away.

Cut spears into 2cm pieces.

Coat a non-stick frypan with cooking spray, sauté garlic for 15 seconds, add diced chicken and cook for 3 minutes.

Place asparagus, zucchini, capsicum and onion in with chicken and cook 2 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients to pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook on slow boil for 5 mins. Stir in cooked pasta.


Annette's cookbooks Symply Too Good To Be True 1-6 are sold in all good newsagencies or visit Annette's website for more recipes and tips.


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Topics:  easy eating food lifestyle pasta recipes

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