|Summer Pasta Salad|
I am writing this post feeling a bit frustrated. I woke up early this morning to post my first entry for "Weigh Less Wednesday" before I went to work. It took about an hour to write and enter the recipe. When I clicked on "post comment" the web page was all of a sudden unavailable and it deleted most of the entry. Ugh, the frustration! So I left it alone, went to work, and now I am back for a second attempt. Here we go...
In the original entry I began by writing about how I have turned into a health food addict. Well, not completely but I try. I still love to eat desserts and potato chips and peanut butter, and oh my the list goes on and on! My health food kick began in October 2010 when I decided that I wanted to lose some weight and cook lighter. I have always enjoyed cooking but you might as well have called me Paula Deen before then with all of the butter and sugar I used! I was skeptical at first thinking to myself that everything I try will taste disgusting. Boy was I wrong. Using Weight Watchers' recipes as a guide, I realized that just by substituting lighter options of key ingredients the caloric, fat, and carb values in my favorite southern dishes significantly decreased. I was amazed! And the best part about it was my assumptions were wrong; they tasted delicious! I remember the first Weight Watchers' dessert I tried was an apple pie. It was so good that Brandon and I ended up eating over half of the pie in one sitting! The purpose of cooking lighter was defeated that night as we kicked portion control to the street but dang it was that good! (I will post the recipe sometime soon:) Looking back over time since October, not only am I meeting my weight loss goals but I feel lighter and have more energy then ever before. Oh and what else is great about all this is that Brandon has been receiving compliments about looking "skinny" and he denies it. But guess what?...since October my cooking on the lighter side has helped him lose at least 15 pounds! And it had nothing to do with exercise, um um (that's me clearing my throat)!!!
So here it is...Summer Pasta Salad. Looking at the picture above you can already see how this is going to be a healthier version of a classic pasta salad. Look at all the vegetables! Not only do they make it a colorful dish but very nutritious. Summer Pasta Salad was adapted from Weight Watchers' "Pot-Luck Pasta Salad." I must admit that the only reason it was adapted was due to me missing a third of the ingredients when I got up to make it Monday morning. I had to improvise but it quickly got the stamp of approval from my taste-testers, Brandon and Hallie. I served it with grilled lean beef hot dogs on whitewheat buns (purchase breads that do not contain high-fructose corn syrup) and fresh corn on the cob. Dee-licious!
Please note that in parentheses I have written the ingredients that were substituted from the original recipe. This will give you two options. Enjoy eating healthier!
Summer Pasta Salad
8 ounces uncooked whole-wheat pasta, rotini (4 oz. uncooked whole-wheat pasta, corkscrew shape and 4 oz. whole-wheat macaroni shape)
1/3 cup olive oil (extra-virgin olive oil)*
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice (fresh lemon juice)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard (Dijon mustard)
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp bottled minced garlic (2 cloves of garlic, minced)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (added by me)
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (added by me)
~1 Tbsp honey (added by me)
1 medium green pepper, chopped--approximately 1 cup
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped--approximately 1 cup
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium yellow summer squash, quartered
1 medium zucchini, quartered
1 cup frozen sweet green peas, thawed
(2 1/2 ounces of canned black olives were used in original recipe but I despise olives; therefore, they were omitted from my version.)
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and honey. This is the dressing.
In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta with vegetables; pour in dressing and toss thoroughly to coat. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours. It is even better the next day as the dressing soaks into the pasta. Serves 12.
*I attended a cooking class last year and the instructor recommended always using extra-virgin olive oil for dressings, marinades, etc. I would have used EVOO in this recipe had I been better prepared.
Helpful hint: Weight Watchers suggests using pre-sliced vegetables from a salad bar and light Italian dressing to save time.