“Why would you ever buy a factory pre-made Pesto?”
(Photo by Tara Fisher)
We are in the process of writing a new Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid article but in the meantime here is a fresh dish in honour of the 1st (rainy) day of Summer. It takes advantage of plentiful seasonal courgettes which can be cut on a mandolin (or potato speed peeler) to make ‘tagiatelle’ which can then be combined with traditional pasta. We find that 50g of pasta per person is enough — increasing the vegetable content and reducing the refined carbohydrate content. You can go even healthier with wholegrain pasta but in reality the additional fibre content of the veg in this dish will reduce the combined glycaemic profile of the meal, i.e. the healthy elements make is slower release. If you were to go extreme and replace all the pasta with courgette you would probably have a less satisfying and filling meal experience and end up compensating later (or lack the energy derived from sensible carbohydrate consumption) — especially if you go for your brisk walk after the meal.
This recipe is packed with healthy protective ingredients including garlic, nuts, extra-virgin olive oil and importantly dark green leafy vegetables. This pattern of ingredients (labelled as ‘Mediterranean’) consistently appears in dietary intervention trials which have shown positive effects against cardiovascular risk factors and disease — this includes the original DASH (Dietary Interventions to Stop Hypertension) and more recent PREDIMED trials. There appears to be multiple mechanisms including anti-inflammatory, blood pressure and ‘cholesterol’ lipoprotein balance properties.
You will not miss the extra pasta and in fact in each mouth-full it becomes unclear where the pasta ends and the courgette tagliatelle takes over. These simple fresh flavours and textures compliment each other perfectly — hot peppery notes (fresh garlic and olive oil), mellow comforting richness (pasta, parmesan and pine nuts) and clean perfumed bite (basil, spinach and courgette). Pair this with a simple sliced tomato and onion salad (dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar) for the perfect combination.
One final comment — our patients who take Warfarin have been told to avoid excess green leafy vegetables because the Vitamin K content will effect the anticoagulation (INR) balance. This is only true if you have a sudden change in your diet involving these ingredients. It seems counterintuitive to avoid a protective diet if you have established cardiovascular conditions. If you already consistently eat green leafy vegetables and have stable Warfarin dosing this is not be a problem but it still complicates a change to a new healthier diet and causes anxiety. The new oral anticoagulants (NOACs) have changed the landscape and provide alternative options. If you are in this position with unstable anticoagulation because of variation in diet you should consider the option of changing Warfarin to one of the new (and more convenient) agents in conjunction with your doctor. The overall take home message is that anticoagulation is not a reason to avoid these protective foods.