This is it. I’m coming clean. I have a confession to make.
I, Ashley Palmer, eat pasta.
If you know anything about my philosophies on nutrition (If not you should read my book Never Diet Again), this may not come as a surprise to you.
Yet it seems that whenever I post a picture or recipe involving “white carbs” someone always asks: “do you use sprouted grain bread” “what type of tortillas do you get?” “is that rice pasta”…
So to answer those questions: No, it’s not sprouted grain bread, it’s my favorite type of sourdough or my husband’s favorite honey-wheat bread. No, they’re not low-carb tortillas, they are the fresh, cook-at-home tortillas that I found at Costco (seriously, the best tortillas I’ve ever tasted!). No, it’s not gluten-free whole-grain brown-rice pasta, it’s white semolina (wheat) pasta.
I used to be that person who only ate high fiber cardboard-like bread, and low carb tortillas made from who-knows-what that honestly (please excuse me) gave me the runs, and pasta that would fall apart while boiling in the pot.
But as I learned more about the actual science of nutrition, I realized that these “healthy alternatives” were actually not making a difference at all.
For example, we think “whole grain” products are a better alternative because they are higher in fiber than their white variety. Yes, but the fiber has been pulverized to a flour, pretty much negating any positive effect it has. They may have slightly more b-vitamins, but if you’re eating well-balanced meals, you shouldn’t really need to worry about that.
Then there’s the subject of gluten. For some reason, right now the idea is that gluten free = healthy and a lot of people are downing boxes of gluten free cookies under the impression that they are being “healthy.” Granted, a small amount of the population can’t eat gluten, but unless you’re one of those people, swapping out the bun on your burger for a gluten free bun isn’t improving nutritional profile of your meal.
And then we always hear about those people that cut out pasta, or grains, or white carbs, and lost a ton of weight and think “this is what I should do too”. Yes, if you cut out any of these things, you will lose weight. But it’s not because of the carbs, or the white flour, it’s because you’re now eating fewer calories because your options are limited. The danger in taking this kind of approach is that it doesn’t teach moderation, balance, and learning how to live in the world of delicious, yummy food.
Yes, there are a few things to consider when it comes to these foods. The average pasta portion size at a restaurant is HUGE… big enough for three or four, and eating these “white carbs” without some fiber and protein may cause you to be a little hungrier later on, since they digest pretty fast (not in the same way the low-carb tortillas do). But that doesn’t mean you have to go to the opposite extreme and never eat pasta again. Instead, learn to embrace balance and moderation, and find ways to incorporate them into delicious, balanced meals.
Which is one reason why I love this pasta salad recipe. For me, having more veggies and protein in the meal helps me to stay satisfied for longer. Plus, it’s an incredibly quick and easy way to use up what I call my “homeless” veggies: the ones that are in my co-op box that I have no idea what I’m going to do with, or that one extra zucchini that was more than I needed for another recipe.
So to summarize my thoughts on carbs: my goal is to enjoy the highest quality, best tasting food I can, in moderation and balance. And yes, this includes white carbs too!