Thank you, Ajinomoto, for sponsoring this post! As always, all thoughts and opinions are truly my own.
Summer is finally here and I couldn’t be happier! Here in the South, the weather is extremely fickle! One minute it’s cool and rainy, and the next minute it’s over 100 degrees! It feels good to have some consistent warm weather for a change!
One of the things that I love to do during the summertime is spend more time outside with my family. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I’m always trying to think of fun outdoor games and activities to get my family moving! Our latest adventure has been taking nature walks a few times a week!
In addition to keeping my family active this summer, I also want to make sure that I provide them with wholesome, nutritious meals that do not take a lot of time to prepare! That’s why I’ve been a huge fan of one-dish recipes, such as this Veggie-Loaded Whole Wheat Pasta Bake!
This recipe quickly became a family favorite and my kids didn’t even realize that it contained a complete serving of veggies per serving! When creating a new recipe, I try to incorporate extra vegetables whenever I can. And of course, I like to add in some cheesy goodness too! ?
When preparing this Veggie-Loaded Whole Wheat Pasta Bake, I used whole wheat pasta to increase the fiber content. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and it helps to improve bowel health. I also added lots of fresh veggies, a low sodium marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, and fresh basil! These flavors came together beautifully! It was so delicious and very flavorful, mainly because of my special ingredient…MSG. MSG is sold as Ac’cent in grocery stores nationwide, and is a flavor enhancer that has been in our family for years!
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is simply sodium and glutamate, which is the most abundantly occurring amino acid in nature. MSG is the purest form of umami. Umami is the fifth taste which is responsible for the savory deliciousness of food. It also adds dimension to flavors – even better, it can be used to enhance the taste of plant-based dishes that may not have a lot of naturally occurring umami. Check out KnowMSG.com and @KnowMSG on Instagram for more info!
Did You Know…???
Did you know that MSG can actually reduce the amount of sodium in a recipe? Sodium has been linked to increased blood pressure, and according to the CDC, 90% of Americans are over-consuming salt. MSG contains two-thirds less sodium than table salt, which decreases the sodium content by 25% to 40% when used to partially replace salt in meals. For this Veggie-Loaded Whole Wheat Pasta Bake, I only used ½ teaspoon of my MSG flavor enhancer and it brought out the amazing flavors of this dish! And without the use of any table salt!
Is MSG Safe to Consume?
Yes! It’s been widely established that MSG is safe to consume. Over the past 30 years, scientists, regulatory agencies, and public health organizations have verified MSG’s safety. The negative connotation surrounding MSG began in 1968. A letter was written to the editor of a prestigious medical journal that described the author’s symptoms after eating at a Chinese restaurant. He claimed to have experienced generalized weakness, palpitations and numbness in the arms. He noted that any number of ingredients may have caused his symptoms, such as sodium, alcohol from the cooking wine, and MSG.
However, the letter brought on the idea that MSG may be associated with those symptoms, and the term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” was coined. Health experts have since endorsed the safety of MSG based on extensive scientific research and a long history of use around the world. Also, most people are unaware of this, but MSG is not an allergen. And, the International Headache Society removed MSG from its list of causative factors for headaches in January of 2018.
Now that you’ve learned a little bit about MSG, let’s get to the details of this yummy recipe!
Veggie-Loaded Whole Wheat Pasta Bake
- 1 lb whole wheat rotini pasta
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 zucchinis chopped
- 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced
- 4-5 leaves fresh basil chopped (additional leaves for garnish)
- 15 oz reduced fat ricotta cheese
- 3 cups low sodium marinara sauce your favorite brand
- ½ cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese shredded
- ½ teaspoon Ac’cent flavor enhancer
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook whole wheat pasta per package instructions, drain, and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add in garlic, zucchini, grape tomatoes, chopped basil, mozzarella, Ac’cent, and half of the amount of ricotta cheese. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
- Pour into a 13×9 inch baking dish and top with the remaining ricotta cheese. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
- Before serving, top with basil leaves for garnish, if desired.