Family Meals Matter: Enjoy whole grain and other pastas during National Pasta month

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making half of your grains whole and a little bit of label reading can result in a whole lot of flavor. Since October is Pasta Month, it should come as no surprise that whole grains are on the minds of registered dietitian nutritionists everywhere. For example, a recent story in U.S. News &World Report recommends exploring the pasta spectrum, from buckwheat to brown rice and beyond.

Be sure to read your labels carefully to ensure whole grains are the main ingredient. Pass by any packages that list “enriched flour” if you’re going for whole grains. Also, be sure to read the cooking instructions as whole wheat pasta does take longer to cook than pasta made from refined, enriched grain.

Plan on enjoying whole grain pasta goodness this week with a featured family meal of Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts + Mushrooms, Autumn Salad and Blueberry Blackberry Gratin. Keep whole grain pasta in its many forms on the menu all week long with Low-Fat Spinach Lasagna, Rigatoni, Grilled Vegetable + Chicken Salad, Colorful Lemon Couscous and Warm Pasta and Spinach Salad.

“Family Meals Matter” features registered dietitian-approved recipes with foods from all the food groups to reflect Dairy Council of California’s nutrition philosophy. For more information, nutrition tools and additional family meal recipes, please visit our website, Healthy Eating Made Easier.



Total preparation time: 15 to 30 minutes

Actual cooking time: 15 to 30 minutes

Number of servings: 6

12 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and/or shiitake

4 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup dry sherry (see note), or 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 cups low-fat milk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, return to the pot and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sherry (or vinegar), scraping up any brown bits; bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 10 seconds (if using vinegar) or about 1 minute (if using sherry).

Whisk milk and flour in a bowl; add to the skillet with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in Asiago until melted.

Add the sauce to the pasta; gently toss. Serve with more cheese, if desired.


Ingredient Note: We prefer dry sherry, sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store, instead of higher-sodium “cooking” sherry.

Source: EatingWell



Total preparation time: 15 to 30 minutes

Actual cooking time: less than 15 minutes

Number of servings: 4

1 bag salad mix (any mix of dark greens works well)

1/2 red apple, sliced thin

1/2 green apple, sliced thin

4 ounces crumbled plain or herbed feta cheese

1/2 cup walnuts, sauteed in 1 tablespoon butter, then tossed with 1 teaspoon ground pepper and 3 teaspoons sugar


Prepare walnuts by sauteing them until well coated and fragrant, 3-4 minutes.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Dress with desired amount of olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Source: Janet Basta


Total preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Number of servings: 4

Actual cooking time: less than 15 minutes

1 cup fat-free, plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup fresh or thawed from frozen blueberries

1 cup fresh or thawed from frozen blackberries

4 teaspoon brown sugar


Preheat broiler.

In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside.

Combine blueberries and blackberries and place them in the bottom of 4 individual ramekins. Top berries with yogurt mixture, allowing some of the berries to show through. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon brown sugar over each serving, breaking up any lumps.

Broil 3 minutes, until sugar melts (the top should be caramelized).

Source: MM user


Low-Fat Spinach Lasagna

Rigatoni, Grilled Vegetable + Chicken Salad

Colorful Lemon Couscous

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