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Celebrate the Dog Days of Summer with Easy Pasta Salads

By: Becca Young – Open Hand Atlanta Nutrition Intern

It is officially the height of summer! Summer is the time to spend relaxing and renewing our bodies. This is usually the time we all want to be spending more time out and about, not stuck in the kitchen. How can we manage to fuel our bodies for everyday while spending time doing what matters? Well, enter pasta salad. It may seem like a challenging task to put together a meal that is quick and nutritious, but with the right ingredients it can be so simple!

It is important to have a meal that is balanced and satisfying! Here are some things to remember to include:

  • Start with whole grains – Look for whole grain pasta to add those fiber-rich carbs and extra nutrients like iron and folate.
  • Pile on the veggies – spinach, tomato, peppers, onions, cucumbers – the more the better!
  • Don’t forget to add fat – Include a small amount of cheese, avocado, or oil-based dressing for healthy fats, boosting flavor and increasing satiety throughout the day
  • Add a complex carb– black beans, lentils, chickpeas, or corn (to name a few) for energy and fiber – this one often gets overlooked!

To make a nourishing balanced pasta salad, follow these easy steps:

  1. Choose your pasta
    • Pick a short noodle. Short noodles, like macaroni, bowtie, rotini, orzo, penne or mini shells, work best to bind the dressing and ingredients.
  2. Choose your veggies:
    • Veggies make the salad colorful and can add those extra nutrients we are always looking for. This is where you can completely customize your meal.
      • Cherry tomatoes
      • Cucumber
      • Red onion
      • Bell peppers
      • Peas
      • Artichoke hearts
      • Arugula
  3. Choose your healthy fats:
    • Olives
    • Avocado
    • Oil-based vinaigrette
    • Nuts and Seeds
  4. Chose a protein
    • This is another aspect that can be completely customized. Add vegetarian options like black bean or chickpeas or add a fun twist with mini pepperonis! Chicken, shrimp, turkey, or tuna could also make a great addition to any pasta salad recipe.
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