MANDAN, NORTH DAKOTA, U.S. — In honor of National Pasta Month in October and Pasta Lovers' Week October 24-30, the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) will partner with newspapers and radio stations around the state in recognizing the state's durum producers and their contribution to the pasta industry.

The commission will provide newspapers and radio stations with trivia and crossword puzzles to help spread the word that pasta is a simple, nutritious and delicious food. Prize packages which include a pasta month t-shirt and recipe brochures from the NDWC, pasta spoons from the U.S. Durum Growers Association and pasta from Dakota Growers Pasta Company, Philadelphia Macaroni Company and American Italian Pasta Company will be awarded to lucky readers and listeners.

On average, North Dakota produces about 50 million bushels of durum, roughly 60% of total U.S. production and enough durum to make 17 billion servings of spaghetti. North Dakota durum is used to produce pasta that is not only enjoyed in the U.S., but is exported to nearly 20 countries each year to make their own unique pasta products.

Pasta can be combined with easy sauces like tomato or Alfredo to make delicious pasta dishes, or can be combined with meat and vegetables for a hearty meal. Keeping pasta in your pantry will ensure you have the main ingredient available for a simple meal. Pasta is also an economical meal choice, with the average cost for a one-pound box of pasta in 2010 at $1.51 and providing eight servings of delicious pasta, you can't go wrong!

Pasta is a nutritious choice; one serving of pasta contains only 110 calories and one gram of fat. It also provides many essential nutrients including folic acid, iron, and B-vitamins. Whole wheat pasta can provide up to 25% of daily fiber requirements and pasta contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium. Pasta provides carbohydrates necessary for fueling the brain and body.