Quinn on Nutrition: Spaghetti Western

April 28, 2014

Itís their own version of a "spaghetti western," say organizers. A dinner for cowboys and cowgirls on Monday, April 28 at the Italian Cibo Ristorante in downtown Monterey, Calif., to benefit the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival.

Cute. Especially since "spaghetti westerns" originally had nothing to do with pasta. They were low-budget Italian-made western movies that appeared in the 1960ís, according to Wikipedia. (Remember Clint Eastwood in "Fistful of Dollars," anyone?)

But this is a nutrition column. So, nutritionally speaking, hereís what cowboys and cowgirls might want to know about spaghetti and other types of pasta.

Historically, almost every country in the world touts some variation of pasta ó noodles made with flour dough. Italians however, are given credit for the name "pasta" which is thought to be derived from the Italian word for "paste."

Is there any redeeming nutritional value to pasta? For one, itís made with semolina flour which is ground from durum flour ó a high protein wheat. In fact, an average serving of spaghetti or other pasta (1 cup) contains as much total protein as 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish. Whole grain pasta can provide a good chunk of our daily dietary fiber requirements. And carbohydrates in pasta also provide fuel to power our brains, nerves and muscles for those long days on the range.

Because pasta is made from wheat, it is also on the "do not eat" list for people with celiac disease. These folks need to avoid barley and rye grains as well. Gluten ó a protein in these grains ó can cause severe damage to the digestive tract of people who are genetically intolerant to gluten.

So what can cowboys and cowgirls who are sensitive to gluten eat? Pretty much anything that does not contain wheat, rye or barley. Their OK corral includes rice, corn, fresh meat, fish, poultry, fish, milk, beans, fruits and vegetables.

With or without spaghetti, if you like cowboys and cowgirls and the western way of life, come support this worthwhile fundraiser for Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. Along with a nice dinner (Ciboís offers several gluten-free menu items), youíll be entertained with musical performances from an eclectic blend of local musicians...the better to burn off your spaghetti, yes? And 20 of the proceeds from your dinner will be donated to support this worthwhile non-profit organization. Make reservations at (831) 649-8151 or get more information at

Sorry to miss the fun on April 28 but Iíll be rocking out west with my new grandson, who Iím sure is the cutest cowboy of all. Yahoo!


McClatchy-Tribune Information Services