With the Atlanta Marathon coming up on Thursday and me still being completely exhausted (though most people dread going to the doctor, I cannot WAIT for my doctor’s appointment next Wednesday to find out all my test results, and am counting down the days), my nutrition leading up to the race is extremely important. I’ve been gaining quite a bit of weight lately, and even if I were feeling in tip top shape, the extra weight would probably slow me down. Therefore, I’m trying to eat foods that are highly nutritious but still with tons of carbs. One of my standard pre-race meals is pasta with marinara sauce and whatever seafood I can get (shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, etc), but in honor of it being Thanksgiving, I decided to prepare a more seasonal dish. Behold: my pumpkin pasta.
I first made this about a year ago, adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe. Those of you who watch Rachael Ray know that her recipes are indeed very easy and very delicious… but not quite as “figure friendly” as she likes to pretend. I’ve made this in the past with chicken sausage (but there is NO need to fry it in oil – just boil it to heat it, and I promise the flavor of the sauce will more than compensate). Today I opted to stay vegetarian, and I filled out the bowl with a ton of zucchini and yellow summer squash. Okay, so maybe the yellow squash wasn’t quite seasonal, but it gave some nice color contrast and was pretty delicious!
To make the recipe the healthier way, spray the pan with a bit of olive oil instead of dousing it with a tbsp of vegetable oil. You’ll need to keep a closer eye on the onions and shake them up to distribute their natural juices, and you won’t cook them as long to brown them. Add the sage, white wine, and bay leaf, but use low-sodium chicken broth (I like Herb Ox Sodium Free Chicken Seasoning) or vegetable broth, cut with water if you really want to keep it light. Don’t be shy about adding lots of pureed pumpkin – I actually use a little bit more than Rachael recommends, in order to thicken it up. Just be sure you have pure pumpkin (Libby’s makes a good can if you’re not making it from scratch) and not pumpkin pie filling or something with tons of additives. Because I’ve used extra pumpkin for thickening, I use a dash of almond milk instead of 1/2 cup of heavy cream – that still gives it the creaminess, but without the fat/calories. Add your seasonings, dump in your boiled whole wheat penne and squash, and give it a good stir. Finally, a bit of parmesan or grated veggie topping finishes it off!
Review: 5/5 stars
This is one of my favorite recipes – it’s creamy and filling, but still very light on both calories and fat, and won’t leave you with a heavy feeling in your stomach. The flavors of the sauce are absolutely amazing – pumpkin and sage and cinnamon and nutmeg go surprisingly well with pasta. Health wise, you really can’t go wrong – filling the dish out with zucchini and squash instead of more pasta mean you get tons of bang for your buck, as well as a lot more nutrients. For any of you with winter races coming up, this is the stuff to carb load on!