For years this has been known as the endurance fuel of choice for athletes, those of us that are physically very active and a staple for most students due to its ease of preparation and being budget friendly.

However, in recent years many of us have being persuaded to go gluten free or follow a low carbohydrate diet, with no real evidence or performance rational and it has sadly gained a “fear food” badge.

 Pasta, particularly white pasta, has become associated as being a processed food, something that should be avoided. However, can something that is made simply from wheat and egg be bad for us?

Pasta is a great source of carbohydrate which is necessary for our bodies to work at a high intensity, sport, but also important, (albeit in smaller quantities) to provide our bodies and brain with the energy it requires on a daily basis.  Pasta provides B Vitamins, folate and thiamine, required for many biological processes within the body, including releasing energy from food. Wholegrain varieties have the additional benefit of providing fibre, important for healthy digestive system. When it comes to which is best, it comes down to preference –both are nutrient dense; top with roasted vegetables and toasted seeds or grilled chicken  and homemade pesto for a well balanced meal.

Purple Pancetta Penne

You can’t get a better combination than purple sprouting broccoli and pasta. If you have completed a hard weights session and want some additional dairy protein, you could replace the toasted almonds with feta cheese. This dish can be served hot or cold.

Serves 4 Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • 300g wholegrain penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed/canola oil

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • 100g pancetta
  • 300g purple sprouting broccoli heads

  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon

  • 50g whole blanched almonds
  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 8 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the pancetta and fry for about
3 minutes until crisp. Stir in the broccoli heads and lemon juice and cook for a further 3–5 minutes until the broccoli is tender but still crisp.
  3. In a small frying pan, toast the almonds for a few minutes until golden.
  4. Drain the pasta, then turn it into a serving dish. Add the broccoli and toss together gently. Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top and serve hot or leave to cool and serve cold.

Nutrition facts (per serving) Calories 508 Carbohydrate 62g Protein 26g Fat 20.3g (of which saturates 3.8g)

Renee McGregor, Clinical Dietician. Recipe are from Training Food