Looking to eat healthily but don’t want to give up pasta? You don’t have to.
One of my biggest problems with “diet culture” is that you DON’T NEED TO CUT OUT FOODS. The key is eating them in MODERATION! It’s about building a lifestyle that suits you, not making one that seems so unrealistic (and you won’t even end up sticking with once your motivation dies down). I digress.
I absolutely love pasta. I used to go to Olive Garden all the time as a kid with my parents. However, it’s not the best idea to get used to (and who knew my favorite Fettuccine Alfredo was like 1500 calories??).
Pasta recipes don’t have to be unhealthy! I’m here to show you how.
Some of the following recipes even look just like ones I learned how to make in my “Health and Fitness in the Mediterranean” class in Italy. 😉
1. Rocket Pesto with Spelt Spaghetti
I made something very similar in another cooking class I took, where we ground up fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts to make a homemade pesto sauce.
Homemade pesto really does make it that much better – sometimes the store-bought jars taste too processed. FRESH pesto will change your life. I’m serious. It will also have a darker, richer color like in the photos below.
This recipe I found on Delicious uses spelt spaghetti. What is that, you ask? It’s similar to a whole grain pasta with that nutty taste. It’s fairly high in protein (and fiber) so it fills you up and keeps you full.
Pesto is a great alternative to Alfredo or any cheese sauce for that matter (all that cream, cheese, fat and oils).
Although when compared to a marinara sauce, pesto is fairly higher in fat and calories due to its oils (BUT extra virgin olive oil IS a healthy fat). Tomato sauces are typically more simple, whereas a pesto sauce can taste like a real treat and STILL have health benefits – especially if you can make it yourself!
2. Spinach Garlic Parmesan Orzo with Crispy Bacon
This dish has so much flavor for such a simple recipe.
What’s great about this one is that you can add so many different foods to it. Not feeling the bacon? (Although, it did make this recipe even better, I won’t lie…) Substitute it for shredded chicken. Since it’s a simple flavor, you can really add whatever you’d like – asparagus, white beans, carrots, more peppers, tomatoes, etc.
Another important ingredient in this one is red pepper flakes, which add a little spiciness. Add as much or as little as you’d like, and I promise, it gives the meal the dash of flavor that it needs (okay, and the bacon).
I was so happy with how this dinner turned out. Follow along with the recipe on Ambitious Kitchen. Here’s how mine turned out (Not too bad, eh?).
3. Baked Tomato and Feta Pasta
I made this one myself in an earlier blog post with balsamic chicken. It’s one of my favorite recipes. It also reminds me of simpler times in Italy. We’d make this so often in my apartment because it was easy to make, and my suite-mate Kacie loved making it to perfection.
The popular way to make this dish is in the oven, with one block of feta cheese and as many cherry tomatoes as you’d like. It softens and turns out to be one of the creamiest, most delicious pasta dishes you’ll ever taste – yet it’s so simple and easy.
It’s also known as the famous “TikTok pasta” which went viral in the United States about a year ago. I found an easy-to-follow recipe for this oven-baked dish on Healthy Fitness Meals.
Using the oven does do the dish justice (and it’s so simple with very few steps), but if you’re on a time crunch, you can make this on the stovetop too. Find my step-by-step instructions for that version here (with my own tips + how to add chicken).
4. Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto
Seems like a weird mix, right? This is actually a classic Roman pairing, when it comes to sweet peas and salty ham. Put it in a pasta dish, especially with these yummy potato dumplings, and you have yourself a tasty meal!
This recipe came from Eat This, Not That and looks like it’d make a great meal or side dish. I’ve yet to try this recipe, but I’ve eaten similar dishes before (and I’d recommend, of course).
5. Healthier (No-Cream!) Alfredo Sauce
Can’t give up you’re favorite cheesy dish? It’s ok, me neither.
Try this recipe by Tasty! It uses chicken broth and skim milk instead of heavy cream or half & half. The sauce is still as thick and creamy as a traditional alfredo with the help of flour and an optional addition of parmesan cheese (top it with a sprinkling too!)
Tasty is one of my favorite websites/apps because they provide follow-along videos to make the cooking process easier! You can also see how it’s going to turn out – and to be honest, it’s making my mouth water already.
Skip the takeout this week and try one of these easy recipes that are all under 500 calories. You don’t need to tell me twice!
Have more health-related New Year’s resolutions?
Read about why I like to work out in the morning, how it can be beneficial, and even check out my go-to energy drink.
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