For our second July Pasta Spotlight, we chatted with Alex Caspero, RD and blogger behind Delish Knowledge. As a vegetarian food blogger and recipe developer, Alex knows a lot about making vegetarian meals that are both healthy and filling – many of which include pasta! We also chatted with Alex about her favorite summer foods and advice for staying healthy while traveling this summer. Read on below for the full interview.
1. As an RD, can you share with our readers how pasta can fit into a healthy diet?
I love pasta and absolutely believe that it can fit into a healthy lifestyle. The recipes I create tend to feature a nutrient-dense way of eating; rounding out a pasta meal with lots of vegetables and lean protein. So, instead of enjoying 3-4 cups of pasta for a serving with sauce, I serve ~1 cup of pasta with 1-2 cups of vegetables and a serving of protein. This approach ensures maximum nutrients, while still getting to enjoy my favorite food- pasta!
2. Delish Knowledge is a blog featuring vegetarian recipes. What kinds of vegetarian foods do you recommend topping pasta with to keep you satisfied and satiated?
Protein, fiber and fat are the most satiating nutrients, so I try to keep that in mind when recipe developing. Vegetables are a great source of fiber (along with a host of other nutrients) and I aim to include at least one serving in most of my recipes, especially those that feature pasta. I also love the traditional Italian combination of pasta and beans. From soups to pasta salads to hot pasta meals, I often use white beans or chickpeas in my pasta dishes.
3. We know from your fitness series that you enjoy working out! What kinds of foods do you recommend to support a workout regime?
Pasta is the perfect pre-workout and post-workout meal! Muscles rely on glucose for energy that is received either in stored muscle glycogen or from the blood stream. Having a small serving of pasta before a workout is a great way to ensure that you are giving your muscles the fuel they need for an extended cardio session. Afterwards, enjoying a meal of pasta along with a source of protein is a healthy way to replenish depleted glycogen stores and give muscle cells the nutrients they need to recover.
4. We also know you enjoy traveling a lot! How do you recommend finding healthy foods while still experiencing a country’s culture when you travel?
I find it’s relatively easy to eat healthy while traveling, especially abroad. For starters, I prefer to explore cities by foot, which is a natural way to work up an appetite while getting exercise in. Depending on where I am, I often average walking 8-12 miles a day, which helps to offset any extra desserts or splurges that I often find on my travels. I also follow a similar approach to how I eat at home. I love eating healthy, mostly plant-based foods because of how good they make me feel. So, even when traveling, these are the foods that I gravitate towards. From there, I think that food is part of the traveling experience and will make room for local goodies. I keep portion size in mind and stop eating when I feel satisfied, not stuffed. This approach allows me to have it all: food that keeps me energized to get through long days of sight-seeing while still allowing ample opportunities to sample foods that I wouldn’t normally have.
5. We’re in the heart of summer! What are some of your favorite foods to serve at a barbecue?
I love summer produce and try to highlight it at various events during this time of year. For a BBQ, that often means a platter of grilled vegetables (with my whipped feta dip), a pasta or grain salad, fruit kebobs and some kind of fun drink or dessert.
6. Finally, can you share one of your favorite pasta recipes with us?
This Roasted Beet Pasta Salad with Basil Dressing is perfect for summer!
About Alex Caspero:
Alexandra Caspero MA, RD, CLT, RYT is owner of Delish Knowledge and author of Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation. As a consultant and spokesperson, she works with like-minded companies to develop nutrition communication strategies, corporate wellness programs and recipes. Her award-winning blog, Delish Knowledge, focuses on making whole-food eating deliciously simple.