EATING well is one of the foundation stones for good health, especially in later life. If you can stick to a wholesome balanced diet, with a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, you’ll have more energy, find it easier to maintain a healthy weight and generally feel better all round.
One of the best ways to know exactly what you’re eating, and avoid many of the artificial additives and preservatives in pre-prepared foods, is to cook plenty of your own meals at home. Older people are generally better at home cooking than younger ones, not having grown up in the ‘fast food’ and ‘ready meals’ era, but some people still shy away from the stove. There’s really no reason to, as many healthy and nutritious meals are quick and simple to prepare, and taste delicious.
This recipe for a quick and healthier version of pasta carbonara is from the NHS’s Change 4 Life website, which has lots of ideas for healthy and nutritious meals. It can be made in only around 15 minutes and will serve up to four people with a nourishing meal taste of Italy.
- 300g dried pasta (pasta tubes called ‘penne’ work well with this recipe, but other types of dried pasta are fine too)
- 4 rashers of lean back bacon cut into pieces
- 5 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
- 150g lower fat soft cheese with garlic and herbs
- 1 egg
- 150ml semi-skimmed milk
- 40g reduced fat hard cheese, finely grated
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 75g thawed frozen peas (optional)
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 12 minutes (according to the instructions on the packet) until the pasta is soft but not mushy.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the bacon and spring onions and cook for about five minutes, stirring often, then remove from the heat.
- Beat the soft cheese and egg together in a mixing bowl, then stir in the cooked bacon and spring onions. Add the milk, half of the grated hard cheese and the parsley (if using). Season with a pinch of black pepper.
- Carefully drain the cooked pasta and return it to the saucepan. Add the egg mixture and peas (if using) and heat gently for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
- Serve into bowls and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top, or leave it on a side plate for diners to sprinkle their own. You could also serve with fresh crusty bread to make it a bigger meal.
Tips: For a vegetarian version just leave out the bacon. If cooking for fewer people, reduce the ingredients accordingly. Alternatively, allow the leftovers to cool then cover and keep in the fridge to reheat and serve the next day, but don’t keep for longer than that.
• Each portion (quarter of the recipe, served without bread) contains: Energy 1,711kj/409kcal; protein 26.5g; carbohydrate 61g, of which 8g sugars; fat 9g, of which 4g saturates; fibre 2.6g; sodium 688mg, equivalent to 1.7g salt.