Healthy Pasta Recipe! Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach & Parmesan Cheese

"A healthy attitude is contagious, but don't wait to catch it from a carrier."
Tom Stoppard

In today's ever changing world, sometimes it feels like we never know if we are coming or going.  Constantly thinking of our next meal, meeting or manicure.  Rather than get bogged down, I find it's best to slow down and find ways to keep a healthy attitude about it all.  Eating right, being active, smelling the roses...these are all things each of us can do to feel our best and set great examples for others to do so too.  I think these types of conscious efforts encourage oneself to get in the now and be more conscious about everyday choices we seem to sometimes breeze over, like hitting a drive thru or local sandwich shop over trying to come up with an effective meal plan on that day you didn't defrost anything.  In fact, I believe setting time aside to do these things are like adding fuel to your inner you the energy you need to be a better Employee, Spouse, Parent, or Friend.

For me it comes down to simplicity, so rather than look at certain tasks I used to find daunting, I found ways to enjoy them.  For instance, waking up an extra hour early to really enjoy that first cup of coffee in the sun before work...flipping through magazines and folding pages down for potential future projects I'm interested in giving the girl scout try, and not setting a time limit on myself on when to do them...or cooking meals on Sunday for my husband and I to eat throughout the week.  Allowing myself these enjoyments I find gives me the energy on a hap hazardous week night to whip up a wonderful meal I can still be proud of serving my family.   How does one do this???
Well it's simple, I choose to day dream and enjoy cooking like a ballerina while in the midst of dance...

So when the day has made me feel weary, I just drift off and many times while I stir a big pot filled with boiling pasta or spaghetti sauce, I recall my lovely Nonni and the dainty way she used to hold her spoon as she would cook.  I can still remember the way I longingly admired her and the anticipation I felt for the meal to be 'finito' so we could eat!  My brother and I loved sneaking into the kitchen to steal corners of crusty bread and dip it into the boiling hot marinara that had been bubbling away on the stove all day.  These are the images I think about while I'm throwing together my meal.  

Now being the Italian girl that I am...I always have room for Rigatoni, but as the days of white flour overloading have come and have my twenties...I always try to find ways to indulge my pasta addiction without the guilt.  Adding vegetables, fiber and flavor are the best ways I find to give my body a head start in digesting these delicious Italian indulgences.  This pasta dish I am going to share with you is absolutely delicious, super simple, 7 ingredients and from start to finish took me less than 15 minutes to create.  Perfect Pasta in a Pinch!  ENJOY!

Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach & Parmesan Cheese

1/2 Lb Whole Wheat Penne
1 TBS Olive Oil
2 Cups Baby Spinach
1 Clove of Garlic
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Salt to taste
Pasta Water

Start by boiling your whole wheat penne to al dente.  Before draining reserve a cup of pasta water, you will not necessarily need all of it, but always take a bit more just in case I say.  

After you have drained you penne set it aside in the colander while you make your quick sauce.  I use the same Pasta pot, and begin to heat up the olive oil on medium heat.  When the oil is ready, crush a clove of garlic with the back of your knife and add it to the oil.  Let the garlic clove mingle with the oil & sizzle a bit for about a minute.

At this point add the chili flakes and penne into the pot, and stir well to finish cooking your penne in the hot oil. After about a minute add a 1/4 -1/2 cup pasta water to help create a sauce, continue to cook for another minute until the pasta is done and everything is well combined.  Turn off the heat when the pasta is done and well coated with the sauce.  Add in the Cheese, Baby Spinach and any other seasonings you may like and mix very well.  If the pasta seems dry-add more pasta water, if it's too watery-continue to cook it down a bit longer.  Do note that your sauce will thicken upon standing as well.  And that's it!  Serve with a salad and you're good to go any day of the week!  Feel free to share any links to other healthy & quick week night recipes you love to make throughout the week in the comments section below.



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