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Sure, I was raised in a big Italian family where dinners, family gatherings, reunions, weddings & even funerals consisted of a spread of spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, chicken parm, eggplant parm, and God only knows what else! Just tons of food in general including lots of bread and butter. But if I had not been raised in this environment, would I have still loved pasta? You betcha!

A traditional Sicilian pasta meal in the Sparacino family is loaded with boiled eggs, Italian sausage, meatballs, chicken, pork and sometimes even piggy feet! As you can see from this picture it’s also ladened with fresh shredded Pecorino Romano cheese. How can one go ME-gan after eating like this all their life? I tell it all in my book – The ME-gan Lifestyle! Don’t wait to have a heart attack before you start giving your arteries a break!

My brother Danny chow’n down to a big plate of spuget and meat-a-balls!

My mom, Jackie, and my brother Matty…enjoying another great pasta meal loaded with all kinds of meats and cheese! It’s the curse of the Italian!

Now-a-days I still eat pasta meals, just healthier versions. For example, instead of meatballs I now add chickpeas or veggies, or maybe just plain marinara on top. It’s all good! And there are many wonderful brands of gluten free pastas to chose from. This is great news for us who LOVE PASTA…we can still enjoy delicious and healthy pasta varieties. Eating ME-gan is far from sacrifice. It’s better for you and the flavors are alive and natural, they burst in your mouth and make your taste buds dance, not hidden by sauces, butters, creams, and fats.

A gluten free pasta that I just recently tried, thanks to my dear daughter Natalie who introduced me to it, is a brand called Pastariso; a ‘Brown Rice Pasta Rotini.’ To me, there is just no difference in taste between this and traditional pasta.

For dinner last week I made the rotini with marinara and sauteed veggies on top. It was a very flavorful meal. To this day, each time I eat I think back to before I started eating ME-gan and think how I would probably have eaten a steak along with it, or perhaps a piece of chicken or even fish. What used to be a ‘side dish’ for me has become the main course. I don’t know how I ate as much as I did, but I did.

It’s a well-known fact that when we eat a healthy diet, one that is rich in whole grain foods, plant foods, low in fat (saturated fat & cholesterol) we are reducing the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Gluten free grains not only fall into this category, but also meets the gluten-free needs of people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD, ADHD), OR for those of us who simply want to eat a healthier diet.

Summer is a great time to lighten up your diet and eat fresh. Eat more fruits and veggies and cut back on the meats & dairy. We can get all the nutrients we need from a well-balanced plant-based diet. YES – it’s true. Those of you who know me, know that I wish I could have my own garden. However, it’s very hard for me to do living here in Arizona. But thankfully I do have access to very nice supermarkets and farmers’ markets. If you have not tasted the absolutely gorgeous, juicy and sweet Campari tomato yet, I insist you do! I made the best marinara ever from them! They are about the size of somewhere in between a cherry tomato and a roma – and are the most flavorful tomato I’ve had in a long time. A slice of a Campari topped with a piece of Follow Your Heart Vegan Mozzarella & fresh basil is the BOMB! Talk about a great appetizer that is sure to leave your guests talking for weeks – this is it!

So go ahead…piace mangiare la pasta, I do! Just make healthier choices.

Loving the pasta and loving you too…