How to Diet: Does Tomato Sauce Count as a Vegetable?

Barilla Mushroom and Ragú Chunky Super Vegetable Primavera each has “2 Servings of Veggies,” according to their labels. And Prego Chunky Garden Mushroom & Green Pepper provides “40% of Daily Vegetables.” It may sound like those sauces are more vegetable-packed than others, but the truth is that any sauce that has a half cup of tomato purée could say the same thing. That’s because, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a half cup of purée is equivalent to one cup—two servings—of vegetables.

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And don’t get too excited about the sweet potato and carrot juice concentrates in Prego Veggie Smart (“50% of your daily Vegetables”). Experts recommend eating more vegetables not just because they’re nutrient-rich, but because they fill you up with fewer calories than most other foods. Experts don’t recommend eating more carrot juice concentrate.

Bottom line: Don’t look for veggies in your sauce. Add them to your pasta. It’s simple. For every cup of cooked pasta (2 oz. dry), toss a cup of raw broccoli or cauliflower florets or sliced green beans or asparagus into the water with the pasta a minute or two (or three) before the pasta is ready to be drained and mixed with sauce. Voilà. You’ve cut the amount of pasta you’ll probably eat, you’ve upped the veggies, and you’ve got a more interesting dish.

Or skip the sauce and toss your drained pasta with grilled or sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, and/or zucchini, or with sautéed spinach or kale. Then top each plate with a tablespoon of grated parmesan, a couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mmm.

 

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