Xtreme Eating Awards and a Recipe Redo

The other day I read an article in the LA Times about the Xtreme Eating Awards.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest came out with its Xtreme Eating awards, giving honors to restaurant menu items with intense amounts of calories, fat and sodium.  These lists come out several times a year, and they always make me sick to my stomach – but I can’t keep myself from reading them.

One item on the list caught my attention – the pasta carbonara at Cheesecake Factory; when served with chicken this dish comes in at 2,500 calories and 85 grams of saturated fat. How is that even possible? 85 grams of saturated fat?!

Carbonara doesn’t need to be a gut-busting dish. If you make it at home, and make it right, it can be a great main dish that is loaded with whole grains and protein. I made Spaghetti Carbonara a few weeks ago for Aaron, and it was great and healthy (although it was missing veggies, hence a huge green salad on the side!).

Whole Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

4  oz. uncooked whole grain spaghetti
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pancetta (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large egg

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but skipping the oil and salt. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
2. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl; set milk mixture aside.
3. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pancetta to pan and saute until it is lightly browned. Add onion and garlic to pan; saute 3 minutes until onion is lightly browned.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the pasta to pan with 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, and Parmesan toss gently to coat.
5. Place egg in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup reserved hot cooking liquid, stirring constantly with a whisk.
6. Gradually add egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly; cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thick and creamy.
7. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with parsley and a big green salad.

Stats: 375 calories, 11 grams fat, 24 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 600 mg sodium

Umm, WAY better than Cheesecake Factory!


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