Dr Oz: Mario Batali Pasta Health Facts
Who better to reveal the truth about whether pasta is really bad for you, than chef and Italian food aficionado Mario Batali. The co-host of The Chew, who works alongside Dr Oz’s daughter Daphne, joined Dr Oz to talk about “the pasta paradox.” According to Mario, everyone loves pasta and that’s why his pasta dishes are the top-selling plates at his restaurant.
Along with salt, bitter, sour, umami, and sweet, scientists have discovered a sixth taste on the tongue: starch. According to registered dietitian Maya Feller, that taste could explain just why we love carbs as much as we do. The enzymes in your mouth help break down carbs into a simple sugar, leaving you with a sweet taste when you eat it. But an Italian study claimed that pasta could actually help us lose weight. Unfortunately, it turns out the study was funded by the pasta industry. The truth is that you could lose weight if pasta was part of a healthy Mediterranean diet. According to Maya, there was a lot of information that was left out.
Dr Oz: How Real Pasta Is Made
According to a pasta expert at Eataly’s pasta headquarters, authentic Italian pasta should be made only with semolina flour, organic eggs, and water. In that case, pasta actually can be good for you. The typical Italian eats pasta every day and doesn’t gain weight, which is the pasta paradox.
Fresh pasta is typically made with eggs and double zero flour, which gives it more calories and fat and is usually used for special occasions. The dry pasta sold in packages is made with semolina flour mixed with flour, so it’s usually lower in calories and higher in protein, based on the durum not the egg. It’s usually served more simply.
Mario joked that he wasn’t exactly sure what low-carb pasta was made out of, and said that generally whole grain pasta is a good option. But as for the high-protein, high-fiber and other seemingly healthier choices, Mario wasn’t sure. As for what he buys at the grocery, he sticks to pasta made with just two ingredients: durum flour and water. The more ingredients in a dry pasta, the less likely they are to be good for you.
Dr Oz: How To Enjoy Healthy Pasta
Dr Oz wondered whether the 100% whole grain pasta would be okay to recommend, and Mario acknowledged that it was, but explained that unless you cook it to exactly al dente, it tends to become “mushy.” Most important thing to remember when it comes to eating pasta is serving size. One serving of pasta is 1 cup. Pasta typically comes in one-pound packages, which is five portions for Italians. Pasta should also be dressed “like a salad” which means lightly and with healthy ingredients.
When cooking pasta, cook it one minute less than package directions for al dente, which means it will have a slight bite to it. When you drain the water, don’t rinse the pasta and save some of the cooking water to mix with the sauce to help make it stick and to boost flavor. Of course, you then want to add fresh tomatoes, herbs, and even some extra-virgin olive oil. Then add just a little freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano once the pasta is off the heat to finish. Follow those instructions and suddenly you’re eating like a real Italian!
Dr Oz: Mario Batali’s Favorite Cheat Day Foods
Mario then stuck around to talk to Dr Oz about some of his favorite cheat day recipes he discovered while traveling the country. Dr Oz explained that an occasional cheat day can work to trick your body into burning more calories. The Philly cheesesteak is a must in Philadelphia, especially at Pat’s and Gino’s. Mario explained that you have to order a cheesesteak “wit” which is basically a cheesesteak with cheese whiz, which clearly isn’t real cheese!
While traveling the country, Mario Batali discovered that the bread is essential to making a good cheesesteak, as is rib eye or round steak slices and grilled thin with peppers and onions, finished with just a splash of vinegar. He also likes provolone cheese and hot chiles on his version.
Dr Oz: Mario Batali Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers
When Mario traveled down south, he discovered the true deliciousness of Cajun and creole cooking. The “trinity” is bell peppers, onions, and celery, and the trinity is used in practically all their local dishes. Mario cooked and mixed the following ingredients then stuffed them inside raw bell peppers before warming it all in the oven
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion – finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic – sliced thin
- 2 C basic tomato sauce
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 C shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 large bell pepper – any color
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 stalks celery – finely chopped
- 1 C cooked rice
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Mario was then surprised by a visit from his first boss back in 1979, at Stuff Your Face! Bill shared that Mario was a hard worker, a smooth talker, and wanted to be a cook. Bill gifted Dr Oz and Mario with homemade stromboli, because there’s nothing better than comfort food!
Mario Batali is the author of the “Big American Cookbook.”