Whole grain foods are often perceived as being healthy, but not particularly tasty. The carbs associated with pasta dishes often get a bad rap, too. But the right carbs, in the right amount and at the right time, are as important to building muscle as consuming protein.

Additionally, modern whole grain pastas are much more flavorful, have a much better texture, and contain many vital nutrients. The USDA, in fact, recommends that people eat at least three servings of whole grains, such as those found in pasta, every day.

This recipe will show you that, with the right ingredients and simple preparation, whole wheat pasta can taste great and fit into a lot of muscle-building diet plans, including carb cycling and carb back-loading.


  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp chili paste
  • 1 cup roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 3 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked
  • 2 cups watercress, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • low-fat shredded cheese (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, toss onion, parsley, garlic, vinaigrette, chili paste, tomatoes, and grapeseed oil; mix well. Over medium-high heat, pour the mixture into a large sauté pan, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are translucent, stirring continuously.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a medium pot (large enough to accommodate about 3 cups of cooked pasta). Cook pasta until it reaches the desired tenderness. Drain, and set aside until sauce is finished. You can add a splash of grapeseed oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking.
  3. Once the onion-tomato mixture has cooked, remove half the liquid and add cooked pasta and watercress. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow pasta-vegetable mixture to simmer for 4 to 5 minutes; remove from heat and uncover. Portion to bowls and finish with mint and basil. If desired, you can also sprinkle a little low-fat cheese on top. To boost the protein content, add a couple of slices of grilled chicken.
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