JEFF TIEDEMAN: Use your noodle; celebrate National Pasta MonthCelebrate National Pasta Month.
It’s hard for me to keep track of all the observances these days.
I’m sure some of my friends will attribute that to old age, but with 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months a year, there are more of observances than Carter had proverbial little liver pills.
But there is one that never escapes my memory — National Pasta Month.
That’s because each October, the Herald — in partnership with the North Dakota Wheat Commission — recognizes the state’s durum producers and their contribution to the pasta industry by participating in the “Use Your Noodle” crossword puzzle contest that offers several prizes, including a pasta month T-shirt featuring this year’s “Only the best durum grows up to be pasta” logo from the NDWC, pasta spoons from the U.S. Durum Growers Association and pasta from Dakota Growers Pasta Co. and American Italian Pasta Co.
The contest is one of the year’s highlights for me because it helps promote pasta, which is routinely recommended by health experts as part of a well-balanced diet.
What I like most about pasta is that it can be paired with many kinds of food, including vegetables, fish, olive oil, cheese, tomato sauce, beans, poultry and meat. And by doing so, you get a meal that is nutritious as well as satisfying.
Pasta meals also are central to the Mediterranean Diet, which the well-respected New England Journal of Medicine reported reduces the risk of death from heart disease and cancer.
(The Mediterranean Diet is characterized by abundant variety of plant foods — fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, other forms of cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds — olive oil as the principal source of fat, dairy products — mostly cheese and yogurt — fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts, zero to four eggs consumed weekly, red meat consumed in low amounts and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts.)
Here a few more nutrition facts, from Becky Westereng, licensed registered dietitian, certified specialist in sports dietetics and certified diabetes educator for Altru Health Systems:
n Pasta provides carbohydrates that complement an active healthy lifestyle. Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose which is an important energy source for the brain, red blood cells, muscle and organs.
n Pasta provides many nutrients, including the B vitamins — thiamin, riboflavin and niacin — and folate, which play a key role in metabolism.
n Pasta also provides minerals, including iron, which is used to carry oxygen in the blood, magnesium for bone health and selenium to protect cells from oxidative damage.
(For more pasta nutrition information, go to ilovepasta.org/ nutrition. html.)
And let me add macaroni and cheese to that list.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.