Runners love pasta. High in carbs, it can power you through any workout. But the noodles many runners eat are made from refined wheat, which offers few other nutrients. A better choice? Those made from wholegrains.
‘Wholegrain pastas provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants runners need for training,’ says nutrition expert Molly Kimball. These nutrient-rich wholegrain pastas are worthy of a carb load.
One of the earliest gluten-free options, brown-rice pasta has progressed from mealy and gritty to hearty and chewy. A 50g serving supplies up to four grams of fibre, ‘which will keep you feeling full for longer’, says Kimball. The pasta also provides vitamin B6.
A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a deficiency of this nutrient can put you at risk of increased heart-damaging inflammation.
The main ingredient in Japanese soba noodles is buckwheat, which is not actually wheat. But many brands also contain wheat flour, so choose one made solely with buckwheat if you’re going gluten-free. Soba provides as many carbs as traditional spaghetti, plus slightly more phosphorus.
‘Phosphorus is a major player in building bones,’ says dietitian Katie Jeffrey. The noodles pack eight grams of protein per serving, making them ideal for recovery.
A relative of wheat, Spelt contains gluten and is rich in iron (for endurance), immune-boosting zinc, and magnesium – vital for muscle and nerve functioning.
‘Wholegrain pastas like spelt are slower to digest, providing more sustained energy than refined white pastas,’ says Kimball.
Cook wholegrain pasta to perfection
1. Use a big pan as the pasta will cook more evenly.
2. Add salt to the water to improve the flavour.
3. Don’t add oil to the water as this prevents sauces from clinging to the pasta.
4. Stir while cooking. Wholegrain pasta tends to stick, but stirring minimises that problem.
5. Taste often – it’s done when you bite it and it’s slightly resistant.
6. Don’t rinse as this removes starch that helps sauces cling. But do rinse soba, which turns gummy otherwise.
7. Finish by cooking the pasta in the sauce as this helps the juices be absorbed.
Healthy, delicious recipes to complement any pasta or pizza
Quick and easy tomato
1. In a food processor, blend until smooth: 450g plum tomatoes; 4 garlic cloves; 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar; oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
2. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in 3 tbsp olive oil. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until thickened (about 30 minutes).
Coriander and pumpkin pesto
1. Place a handful of fresh coriander, 40g roasted pumpkin seeds, 30g parmesan, 2 garlic cloves, the juice of half a lemon and ¼ tsp salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is coarsely blended.
2. With the machine running, pour in 50ml olive oil and process until well combined.
Simple and tasty meat ragu
1. Brown 450g minced beef in a pan, then drain off the excess fat.
2. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 diced bell pepper, 3 crushed garlic cloves and cook for 3 minutes.
3. Add 800g tinned plum tomatoes and 140g tomato puree.
4. Season with oregano, basil, chilli, salt and pepper, a glug of red wine and 1 tbsp sugar. Simmer for 1 hour.