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7 Healthy Pasta Recipes That Won't Destroy Your Waistline

7 Healthy Pasta Recipes That Won't Destroy Your Waistline

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Recipe SWAT Team tackles healthy pasta this week

Spring Vegetable and Chicken Primavera

Let's face it — many pasta dishes are calorie bombs. Loaded with rich, tasty cheeses, salt, and sometimes fatty (but delicious) meats, pasta dishes often get a bad rap for adding to our waistlines. Even that angel hair with marinara sauce that you love so much might not be so great for you — just how much olive oil is in your grandma's beloved recipe, anyway? (Not that olive oil is bad for you; on the contrary, it has many health benefits, but as with many things, it's best in moderation.)

Click here to see the 7 Healthy Pasta Recipes That Won't Destroy Your Waistline Slideshow

And if you've somehow managed to keep to some semblance of your new year's resolution to get into shape, it would be a shame to throw all that work away just to satisfy a bit of temptation. Still, we're with you; after a long, hard day at work or school, who doesn't crave a big bowl of pasta and a glass of wine?

That's why this week, The Daily Meal staff and members of the Culinary Content Network decided to take on the challenge of making pasta dishes healthier. Here are a few highlights:

  • Lori Yates, member of the Culinary Content Network and author of the blog foxes love lemons, has a Spring Vegetable and Chicken Primavera that's loaded with delicious vegetables and is big on flavor.
  • Try my Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Heirloom Tomatoes, which ups the flavor factor with a secret pantry ingredient you may not have considered before.
  • And don’t miss out on this week's winning recipe, Linguine with Kale Pesto by Girl in the Little Red Kitchen — delicious, simple, and addictive.

All of the recipes featured here can be made at home for about $25 or less, excluding the cost of small amounts of basic ingredients such as butter, oil, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and other dried herbs and spices.

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.

7 Unhealthy Pasta Dishes To Avoid

Americans have a serious love affair with pasta. Unfortunately, we rarely eat it like the Italians do&mdashin small portions with light sauces&mdashbut in dinner plate&ndashsized piles swimming in creamy or high-fat sauce. And the calories add up, sometimes to almost a full day&rsquos worth, not to mention the off-the-chart amounts of sat fat and sodium many contain. Here, are seven of the worst pastas&mdashand healthy recipes that scratch your pasta itch without sending you into a carb-induced coma.

1. Spaghetti Bolognese with Meatballs
"Bolognese" usually denotes meat sauce, but a few more meatballs added in can really start to ratchet up the calories, saturated fat, and sodium. One plateful can contain almost a full day&rsquos worth of calories, plus nearly 4,000 mg of sodium.
Ridiculously healthy: Our take on spaghetti Bolognese is made with "no-salt" tomato sauce, cutting the sodium to only about 150 mg per serving.

2. Lasagna
With its several layers of pasta, full-fat mozzarella, and sodium-filled sauce, it can contain over 1,300 calories and almost 3,000 mg of sodium in just one serving.
Ridiculously healthy: Try these lasagna bundles instead. This dish is made with nonfat ricotta and antioxidant-rich tomato sauce, plus it&rsquos portion controlled for you.

3. Ravioli
These pasta pockets are often filled with an array of cheeses and herbs and covered in a thick, rich sauce. Request ravioli at a restaurant and you could be eating half your day&rsquos allotted calories.
Ridiculously healthy: Our cheese ravioli is a snap to whip up and comes in under 300 calories per serving.

4. Pasta Alfredo
Alfredo sauce is the epitome of creamy decadence. This white sauce is traditionally made with a trio of heavy ingredients: cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese. If you order this traditional dish at a restaurant, your pasta will most likely be swimming in sauce and 50 g of fat.
Ridiculously healthy: Swap in this fettuccine recipe next time you are craving alfredo. It&rsquos made with whole wheat fettuccine and brimming with veggies like broccoli, peas, and tomatoes.

5. Seafood Linguine
Shrimp, crabmeat, lobster, and pasta all tossed together in a super-buttery sauce can make your mouth water (and your waistline expand). One helping accounts for 1,000-plus calories and 50 g of fat.
Ridiculously healthy: This seafood pasta dish is light and delicious. The recipe calls for some garlic and margarine to bring out the flavors of the fresh shrimp and lobster. All of that adds up to a scale-friendly 353 calories.

6. Pesto Pasta
Pesto is super simple to make: Basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil are the main components of this sauce, but some recipes add their own fattening flair by tossing in mayonnaise or cream cheese to the mix.
Ridiculously healthy: Pesto sauce may stick to the basics, but the flavor of fresh basil is far from boring. This pesto pasta also has shrimp, tomatoes, and red bell peppers, amounting to only 9 g of fat.

7. Pasta Primavera
Primavera dishes are made with fresh produce, but some recipes call for a creamy white sauce to dress the dish and super-buttery veggies, making it a deceptive diet disaster.
Ridiculously healthy: Our angel hair pasta has beta carotene&sbquoÄìrich carrots, antioxidant-rich basil, and a kick of metabolism-revving red-pepper for only 315 calories and less than 6 g of fat per serving.

Homemade 3-Cheese Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes

Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Yes, you can easily make ravioli! And here, you get to dive into ravioli made with three different types of cheese: ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Did we mention this pasta dish is just a little more than 500 calories? A total win for a restaurant-level meal.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal. But after two months of cooking constantly, I’ve wanted to spend progressively less time in the kitchen. Easy dishes with only a few ingredients have become my go-to these days, and pasta is always one of the ingredients I have stocked in my pantry.

These healthy pasta recipes will help you spend less time cooking and more time enjoying your latest quarantine project. They feature only a couple of ingredients, easy sauces, and can be modified for those with food sensitivities.

This fresh, summer pasta includes grilled asparagus, lemon, chicken, and pesto. To keep the chicken juicy, let it sit for five minutes before cutting it into strips.

Photo via Feel Good Foodie

Lighten up your next pasta dish, and add some vegetables, by using zucchini noodles or “zoodles”. Zoodles absorb a lot of liquid, so if you want to eat the dish over a couple of days, it’s best to store the noodles and the sauce separately.

Instead of cream and cheese, this stroganoff is made with non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch to thicken it. The recipe calls for cremini mushrooms, but you can use any mushroom, or combination of mushrooms, you choose.

This simple pasta recipe can be made with many things you probably already have in your pantry—breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and white wine. Roasting the Brussels sprouts instead of steaming or sautéing them will bring a nice crispiness to the dish.

Spinach, mushrooms, parmesan, and some Italian seasoning give this pasta dish some big flavor. You can add more vegetables to the dish, such as kale or sautéed peppers, or add a protein like grilled chicken or ground turkey.

Fresh summer ingredients, such as zucchini, basil, and tomatoes, are used in this dish. The vegetables are finely sliced and don’t require any sautéing, making it an easy weeknight meal.

Photo via Counts of the Netherworld

Lentils are packed with protein and make an excellent substitute for ground beef. The sauce in the recipe is a spicy sauce, but if you prefer less spice, opt out of using the red pepper flakes.

100+ Best Healthy Dinner Ideas You'll Want to Make Tonight

Chicken, pork, steak, and plenty of shrimp and salmon are on the menu.

Our favorite healthy dinners often catch home cooks by surprise, as they're plates that include savory meats and even pastas &mdash far from boring salads! Eating a balanced, wholesome dinner doesn't mean grazing on a plate of lettuce and unseasoned veggies. It's all about packing in supercharged whole grains, lean proteins, plus sauces and seasonings to turn up the yum factor on your favorite healthy vegetables. Many of these healthy dinners are homemade versions of dishes you're already ordering as takeout! Unlike delivery, though, each recipe in this collection keeps dinner to less than 500 calories, and most are ready in less than 35 minutes.

The most flavorful dinners come together with quick, easy, and nutritious grocery staples that are known to be weeknight heroes in all households. You'll make 5-ingredient pasta recipes, sear lean beef and cruciferous veggies in a sauté, or toss them all together in a super savory salad you'll actually look forward to eating.

There are so many ways to craft easy meals on a budget too, and these dinners will be easy on the wallet. Most of these recipes can be prepped in advance on Sunday and fired up throughout the week, saving you even more time in the kitchen. A few even make for good make-ahead dinners that you can simply reheat when evenings are just too hectic to cook. Whether you're looking for new ways to spin vegetarian recipes for Meatless Monday or a soul-warming stew recipe to reheat and serve in a flash, these healthy dinner ideas will make your good behavior taste so, so good.

10 Healthy Pasta Sauce Recipes You’ll Love

The terms “healthy” and “pasta” don’t always cozy up together, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. In fact, healthy, delicious pasta recipes are pretty easy to come by. We’ve rounded up some of the most highly shared pasta sauce recipes on social media—with equally high nutrition value.

This simple, five-ingredient sauce recipe is not only friendly on the waist-line, it provides rich skin health and protein building nutrients—and a creamy, delicious texture to boot.

The winning secret to this pasta favorite? It's made with cauliflower and vegetable broth instead of rich dairy products (though you'd hardly know the difference).

You read right. Now it's OKAY to sit down with that bowl full of your all-time favorite comfort food. It may actually even—gasp—be good for you!

This pasta sauce recipe is creamy, good-for-you deliciousness with a little extra kick.

Drizzle this creamy, protein-packed cashew sauce over a bowl of savory sweet potato noodles for a pasta fix that won't break your healthy streak.

Made with almond milk, olive oil, sea salt and the nutrient-packed garlic, this thick, creamy pasta sauce will leave you wanting seconds—the kind you don't have to feel guilty about.

Seasoned with honey, balsamic vinegar and basil, this light pasta sauce is the perfect match-up for a heavier pasta, like gnocchi.

Why not harness the nutritional power of sweet potatoes into a creamy pasta treat?

Nothing goes with warm noodles quite like a bowl full of savory pesto, and this recipe lets you satisfy that craving without accruing a bunch of extra calories.

An array of veggies and spices makes this seemingly decadent sauce recipe one for the books.

Macaroni Grill: Mama's Trio

Courtesy of Romano's Macaroni Grill

When restaurants pile together their most popular menu items into one meal, you can guarantee the dish won't do your diet any favor. The same rule applies in this meal, as chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, and fettuccine alfredo come together on one plate. Alone, these items present their own minefields of calories and fats to avoid, but combined together, their cumulative 129 grams of fat and almost 4,000 milligrams of sodium will throw off your eating plan for days. Avoid the sluggishness you would get from consuming this meal and opt for a simpler pasta for a healthier experience.



If you don't have any kind of lactose intolerance, cheese can be a healthy part of your diet—the real stuff, that is. Even though you ditched processed cheese and picked up a fancy five-year Gouda from the cheese shop downtown, you've still got to be strict with portions. "A cheese serving should be equal to about four small cubes, each equal to the size of a dice. Cheese can be an easy food to pack on the extra calories, saturated fat and even sodium," says Smith. Rather than posting up next to the cheese platter at your next party, put a few cubes on your plate and move on. And hey, if you keep your cheese quota in check during the appetizer round, you'll have more wiggle room to spring for dessert later.

52 Easy, Healthy Dinner Ideas That Take 30 Minutes or Less

Most of us are never not on the lookout for easy, healthy dinner ideas. After all, some headache-free nourishment is just what you need at the end of a long day.

What counts as “easy” is kind of subjective, but for this list of recipes we kept it to meals that come together in 30 minutes max (at least, according to the recipe notes) and don’t have ridiculously long ingredient lists. What counts as “healthy” varies from person to person too—but in the most basic sense, a healthy dinner is one that tastes good and fills you up.

“For a meal that is both mentally and physically satisfying, I recommend that people strive for three to four food groups when possible—namely fat, protein, starch, and fruits/vegetables,” SELF columnist Jessica Jones, M.S., R.D., certified diabetes educator and cofounder of Food Heaven, previously told SELF. “By doing this, you will not only get a variety of textures and flavors, but also nutrients that work together to provide you with a steady, stable stream of energy.”

With that in mind, we rounded up 52 easy, healthy dinner ideas. Most make for a balanced meal on their own, while a few (like veggie curry or baked chicken) you’ll probably want to serve with some bread or rice.

A note about the word healthy here: We know that healthy is a complicated concept. Not only can it mean different things to different people, it’s a word that’s pretty loaded (and sometimes fraught), thanks to the diet industry’s influence on the way we think about food. At SELF, when we talk about food being healthy, we’re primarily talking about foods that are nutritious, filling, and satisfying. But it also depends on your preferences, your culture, what’s accessible to you, and so much more. We selected these recipes with those basic criteria in mind while also trying to appeal to a wide variety of nutritional needs and taste buds.

Fettuccine Alfredo, Lightened Up

Creamy, cheesy alfredo sauce lightened up? Can it be true? I've been searching for the best ways to make fettuccine alfredo easier on the waistline, and it all comes down to my secret ingredient.

A typical portion of this decadent dish has 1200 calories, 75 grams of fat, 47 grams of saturated fat and gives you more than half a day's worth of sodium. Yikes! Looking at a recipe, it’s not hard to figure out why. The star ingredients are buckets of heavy cream, butter, cheese and mountains of pasta.

When it comes to these creamy, indulgent dishes, it's better to not try to replace ALL of the high-fat ingredients completely. Instead, to keep flavor, you simply use less (much less). A little butter, cream and Parmesan cheese can go a long way.

Simmering a large amount of heavy cream and butter creates a thick and creamy sauce. Since a single cup of cream has more than 800 calories, only use a 1/4 cup of cream and then add in my secret ingredient -- light cream cheese! This swap makes the sauce just as silky and only adds a fraction of the fat and calories. Other options are milk thickened with cornstarch, yogurt, part-skim ricotta cheese or chicken stock.

As for the cheese, you’re in luck. Parmesan cheese is naturally lower in fat than many other cheeses and it has a strong flavor, so you only need a little. A half to 2/3 cup of grated cheese is plenty for a recipe that serves four people (it'll be cheaper, too).

Gigantic servings are where many pasta dishes go wrong. Instead of piles of pasta, serve your fettuccine in single-cup servings along with a lean protein (chicken or shrimp) and some vegetables. Below is my recipe, which I often serve with roasted shrimp and broccoli. The whole meal takes less than 20 minutes to make!


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