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Wednesday, May 18, 2005 

Whole Wheat Pasta - On the Upswing

Marian Burros in the New York Times today has a piece on the improvements made in whole wheat and whole grain pasta. First we're told why these foods are healthier:
These better-tasting products are healthier because the nutrients in whole-wheat flour are significantly better for you than what is left once flour is refined. Whole-wheat pasta contains the entire grain seed, usually referred to as the kernel. The kernel has three components: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran and the germ contain a host of vitamins, minerals and fiber, some of which are lost in the refining process. So a two-ounce serving of whole-wheat pasta can contain five to seven grams of fiber, more than a typical serving of old-fashioned oatmeal. Refined pasta has only about two grams
Fiber...it's all about fiber these days, isn't it. The author also did their homework for this article...eating a whole lot of pasta.
I tasted about 35 dried whole-grain pastas made not only with whole wheat but with farro, spelt, quinoa, rice and corn, and even artichoke flour - and 10 fresh pastas made with a combination of whole wheat and refined durum wheat. I found a number of dried flat pastas, as in fettuccini, linguine and spaghetti, were easy to recommend. Most extruded pastas like rotini, penne and fusilli still needed some work.
Dang. That's a lot of pasta. But it makes sense that a lot of the enjoyment of pasta comes from the sauce you use. A lesser pasta can be improved with better sauce, though a chewy, grainy "healthy" pasta probably isn't going to be improved with the best sauve.

I've tried quite a number of the whole grain and whole wheat pastas. I would agree that they've made vast improvements. Sometime this week or next I plan to try a whole what Macaroni and Cheese. I've got both a box from Annie's Homegrown as well as one I believe from Arrowhead Mills. When I try them I'll post a review here.

Stephen Jermanok in the Boston Globe has a look at the wine from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Pinot noir is the top wine coming out of there, and unlike California where you can blend in 25 percent of another grape, like syrah and zinfandel and still call it pinot noir, in Oregon, it's 100% pinot.

Wondering what you can freeze and what you can't? Beth Budra in The San Francisco Chronicle has a complete guide to what freezes, what doesn't and why.