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20 Healthy Pasta Recipes That Are Hard Not to Love

Pasta is arguably the ultimate comfort food, and here are 20 healthy (and diet-friendly!) recipes that prove why…

 

If you’re like, well, just about everyone, you have a favorite pasta dish that gets your juices flowing.

For me, it’s usually something creamy and savory like an Alfredo or stroganoff, but sometimes all it takes is a light tomato vodka sauce to blow me away.

Well, in this article, I share 20 pasta recipes from around the Web that not only showcase its gastronomic glory, but that can be enjoyed without eating your entire day’s worth of fat in one sitting.

As you’ll see, these recipes also include a wide variety of nutritious ingredients, which means they fully qualify as “healthy eating.”

 

For example, check out the Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce, a light noodle salad made with strands of zucchini noodles, or the super-simple Slow Cooker Vegetable Bolognese.

Bon appétit!

Creamy Butternut Squash Alfredo

Serves 6

This alfredo sauce doesn’t have heavy cream of Parmesan cheese. Instead the creaminess comes from butternut squash, which is pureed into a pasta sauce.

That doesn’t mean this is a light dish, however, because there’s a little butter and bacon too. But it’s easy to make this meatless by leaving out the bacon, and if you’ll miss the savory flavor, serve with sautéed mushrooms instead.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

407

Calories

10 g

Protein

83 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 strips Applewood bacon

2 Tbsp. butter

1 cup diced red onion

1 clove garlic

3 cups cubed butternut squash

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage

1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 cup low-fat milk

Salt to taste

2 lb. quinoa pasta (or pasta of choice)

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Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Serves 2

This light noodle salad is made of veggies and mushrooms, and yet it’s more satisfying than one with spaghetti and mayo.

The mix of zucchini noodles and mushrooms is a surprisingly substantial side dish, and half an avocado makes this pasta salad creamy.

If you don’t have a spiralizer to make strands of zucchini noodles, then use an old-fashioned vegetable peeler to make broad, flat pasta instead.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

124

Calories

6 g

Protein

9 g

Carbs

10 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 cup water

1 scallion, sliced

2 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/2 avocado

1 clove garlic

2 Tbsp. liquid aminos (or tamari sauce)

1 Tbsp. herbs de Provence

Pinch of salt

Handful of mushrooms, thinly sliced

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Healthy Mediterranean Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

Serves 8

This pasta bake makes a delicious Sunday night dinner to gather family around the table – yet it doesn’t actually contain pasta.

The is actually a meal of roasted chicken and squash that’s disguised as baked pasta. Since spaghetti tends to get softer and take on other flavors in a casserole anyway, kids might not even be able to tell that this is spaghetti squash instead of noodles.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

434

Calories

37 g

Protein

25 g

Carbs

22 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash (about 5 lbs.)

3 chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each)

1 cup Kalamata olives

6 oz. feta cheese

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup capers

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup diced mushrooms

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

2 tsp. salt

3 cups (12 oz.) shredded mozzarella

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Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 8

No picnic or potluck is complete without a pasta salad.

This one has a little bit of everything: both bacon and chicken breast for protein, plus veggies like broccoli and bell peppers. With all that, the result still manages to be a low-fat pasta salad.

The dressing has Greek yogurt, buttermilk, and a touch of mayo for the trifecta of creaminess. And you can choose fat-free or reduced-fat versions to suit your target macros.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

395

Calories

29 g

Protein

51 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

Yogurt Buttermilk Dressing:

3/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, roasted and minced

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Pasta Salad:

1 lb. dry whole-wheat pasta

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each), cooked and chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups small broccoli florets

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta

3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

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Roasted Shrimp Scampi

Serves 2

Although this recipe doesn’t include the pasta, it only takes a pot of boiling water to turn this into shrimp linguine (or whatever your favorite style of Italian noodles happens to be).

And since the shrimp itself only takes 10 minutes to make, you can start it once your pasta of choice is in the hot water and check to see if it’s al dente while the scampi is under the broiler.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

212

Calories

25 g

Protein

2 g

Carbs

12 g

Fat

Ingredients

8 oz. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. white wine

1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Lemon wedges, for serving

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Lightened Up Creamy Cajun Chicken

Serves 6

Although not a part of traditional Cajun cuisine, ingredients like pasta and muffuletta were readily integrated when Italian immigrants moved into New Orleans. And now there are great fusion dishes like this one, which has a creamy garlic sauce with cream cheese.

The Cajun spice blend shows how great the marriage between the two cuisines can be. Like Italian seasoning, it uses oregano and garlic powder – there’s just thyme and cayenne in the mix too.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

426

Calories

35 g

Protein

41 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

Cajun Chicken & Pasta:

1 tsp. salt.

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips

2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips

1 yellow onion, sliced

12 oz. fettuccine

Creamy Pasta Sauce:

1 Tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 oz. light cream cheese, softened

1 cup milk

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Shrimp Linguine with Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

Serves 4

A shrimp pasta dish doesn’t need tomato sauce or alfredo. If you have the pasta and shrimp but no jar of sauce, you can still have a delicious 15-minute dinner.

Just think like a college kid and dress the noodles in butter – only upgraded with fresh lemon juice, parsley, and white wine. You’ll have an easy pasta dish that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner date.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

458

Calories

35 g

Protein

36 g

Carbs

16 g

Fat

Ingredients

8 oz. linguine, cooked

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 sweet onion, minced

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan, for garnish

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Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Serves 8

This is more than just an option at Olive Garden. Called pasta e fagioli, or pasta and beans, it’s a hearty Italian soup that’s made from common ingredients, so it’s an accessible dish throughout the countryside.

It’s also a cinch to cook for anyone who has a Crock Pot. Brown the beef, and let it slow cook in the soup throughout the day. Before serving, add the pasta and beans, and ladle it up once they’re tender.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

313

Calories

29 g

Protein

36 g

Carbs

6 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. lean ground beef

2 carrots, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

2 cans (14.5 oz. each) beef broth

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup ditalini pasta (or small elbow noodles)

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Scoglio (Seafood Pasta)

Serves 6

Since all of Italy is surrounded by coastline, seafood is commonly paired with pasta in local cuisine.

This healthy pasta recipe goes all out with scallops, shrimp, mussels, and clams. It might seem fancy, but it’s actually a rustic dish that’s adaptable.

Rest assured if you don’t to want to round up so much seafood, this scoglio will be delicious if you cook it with just a couple varieties.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

433

Calories

19 g

Protein

61 g

Carbs

10 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can (16 oz.) whole tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 lb. spaghetti

2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

6 medium scallops

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

8 medium shrimp, peeled

1 sprig fresh oregano

1 sprig fresh thyme

8 mussels

8 clams

1/2 cup white wine

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Skinny Pasta Primavera

Serves 6

When the fresh produce starts to hit the market in spring, it doesn’t take much effort to turn them into a delicious meal. Try this one-pot pasta dish for example.

It’s really as simple as putting everything into a big Dutch oven or stock pot to simmer until the ingredients are tender. Lemon juice, Parmesan, and dill are stirred in at the end for a quick sauce.

Any fresh vegetables can be used for this easy pasta primavera, and if you can find them, radicchio and fava beans will add a real taste of Italian springtime.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

244

Calories

12 g

Protein

35 g

Carbs

8 g

Fat

Ingredients

8 oz. spaghetti noodles, broken in half

1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/2 lb. asparagus

1/4 lb. broccoli florets

1 cup brown mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

12 kale sprouts, ends trimmed

3/4 cup peas

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup (2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1/3 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped

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Broken Pasta with Kale, Mushrooms & Sausage

Serves 4

If you open a box of lasagna noodles to find they’re in pieces, it’s not a total loss. You can make this hearty pasta with sausage and mushrooms.

Don’t let the rustic appearance fool you; it’s simple but has rich flavors from a butter sauce with lemon and white wine. This is one weeknight pasta dinner that won’t feel like a compromise.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

491

Calories

18 g

Protein

70 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

8 lasagna noodles, broken into medium-sized pieces

3 links Italian sausage, casings removed

2 large leaves kale, cut into thin ribbons

6 oz. mushrooms, sliced

5 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 lemon, halved

Pinch of coarse salt

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Salmon with Penne Pasta

Serves 1

Although salmon is not native to Italy, Italian seafood recipes can be adapted when the fish is in season.

Salmon is so delicious when broiled or grilled, it hardly needs anything else to become a great dinner. Rather than pairing it with a heavy sauce like alfredo, a little butter, lemon, and garlic are all salmon needs to become a delicious entrée to serve on a bed of whole-wheat pasta.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

547

Calories

36 g

Protein

53 g

Carbs

21 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 oz. salmon

3 oz. whole-grain penne

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

1 Tbsp. butter, melted

4 Tbsp. low-sodium vegetable broth (or water)

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, minced

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Crock Pot Chicken Spaghetti with Broccoli

Serves 8

To make the best spaghetti, do less work. Upgrade any pasta sauce you have, whether it’s store-bought or homemade marinara, using a slow cooker.

For this Crock Pot spaghetti, the pasta is still cooked the regular way in a pot of boiling water. The chicken breast becomes perfectly tender in the spaghetti sauce, and all you have to do is leave them alone in the slow cooker for a few hours and then stir in the noodles and ricotta when ready to eat.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

611

Calories

52 g

Protein

90 g

Carbs

8 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 cups spaghetti sauce

2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp. dried oregano

13 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti

4 cups broccoli florets

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta

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Healthy Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 6

From The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes, this simple pasta salad starts with a base of soba noodles.

They’re made from buckwheat, which like quinoa is actually a seed that can replace grains. Both whole-grain and buckwheat pasta rank low on the glycemic index and are therefore good sources of slow-digesting carbs.

However, compared to whole-wheat spaghetti, soba noodles have just two-thirds the calories.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

429

Calories

32 g

Protein

33 g

Carbs

21 g

Fat

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut

1 yellow squash, diced

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp. grainy mustard

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each), cooked and diced

1 package (8 oz.) soba noodles

2 cups spinach

4 oz. goat cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sesame oil, to garnish

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The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes

By Dr. Allen Lim, Chef Biju Thomas
Get the Book Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

Easy Freezer Meatballs

Serves 10 (About 40 meatballs)

Spaghetti and meatballs is already an easy dinner to make from scratch, and now it can be even more convenient on a busy weekday.

These freezer meatballs can be prepared whenever you have an hour to spare, and that includes the 25 minutes they’re in the oven.

Mince an onion, chop up some fresh parsley, and cube some bread. Then you just have to make the meatballs with egg and a whole bunch of seasonings, and throw them in the oven on a baking sheet.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

233

Calories

30 g

Protein

6 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups soft bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup tomato juice

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. ground pork

1/2 cup minced onion

1 Tbsp. pesto

1 Tbsp. sweet pepper relish

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup bread crumbs

3/4 cup (3 oz.) grated Parmesan

2 large eggs

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Greek Yogurt Parmesan Chicken

Serves 5

When you need protein to serve on top of spaghetti, keep this healthy recipe in mind.

Traditional chicken parm is coated with bread crumbs and grated cheese, and yet this version is able to use less no breading and less Parmesan. Instead the baked chicken breast is coated in Greek yogurt, Parmesan, garlic, and lemon zest.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

216

Calories

40 g

Protein

2 g

Carbs

4 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 2/3 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast

3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup (2 oz.) grated Parmesan

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

1 1/2 tsp. grill seasoning

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Kale Mint Basil Pesto

Serves 16

Traditional pesto is made from fresh basil, pine nuts, and olive oil, and this update doesn’t veer far off course. There’s just another herb in the mix – fresh mint – as well as the popular leafy green vegetable, lacinato or dinosaur kale.

The updated pesto can be served as many ways as the original. Stir it into any kind of noodles for a plate of pesto pasta, make a pesto pizza, or use it for a sandwich spread.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

84

Calories

1 g

Protein

3 g

Carbs

8 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 bunch lacinato kale

1 bunch fresh basil

1 bunch fresh mint

6 cloves garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Spinach Chicken Manicotti

Serves 4

There’s no shame in eating freezer meals every once in a while, especially when you prepare them from scratch ahead of time. That way you’re still having a home-cooked meal made from wholesome ingredients that you selected yourself.

Using shredded chicken and frozen spinach, this premade manicotti only takes 15 or 20 minutes to assemble. Then if you choose to stash it away for a busy day, this dinner for four will take an hour to cook from frozen.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

682

Calories

71 g

Protein

53 g

Carbs

22 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded

1 package frozen spinach, thawed and liquid removed

1 container (16 oz.) ricotta cheese

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 cups tomato sauce

9 manicotti shells

1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) grated fresh mozzarella

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Mexican Manicotti

Serves 6

Like lasagna, manicotti can be transformed from an Italian dish to a spicy Mexican dinner.

This recipe uses refried beans and ground turkey for the pasta filling, and picante sauce (or your favorite salsa) replace the marinara. Fill the uncooked noodle shells, and bake for an hour.

Then you’ll have an awesome Mexican-Italian fusion dinner.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

478

Calories

29 g

Protein

45 g

Carbs

22 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground turkey

1 can (15 oz.) refried beans

2 1/2 tsp. chilli powder

1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 package (8 oz.) manicotti shells

2 1/2 cups water

1 jar (16 oz.) picante sauce

1 cup sour cream

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese

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Slow Cooker Vegetable Bolognese

Serves 10

Keep burning the pasta sauce because you forget to stir it or the lid won’t stay on tight? Prepare slow cooker pasta sauce, and it can be left simmering as long as necessary before dinner.

The method works well with any kind of sauce you’re making, including this thick and chunky vegetable marinara. When cauliflower has been pulsed in the food processor, it gives this meatless Bolognese the texture of ground beef.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

107

Calories

6 g

Protein

23 g

Carbs

1 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

10 oz. fresh mushrooms

2 cups shredded carrots

2 cups eggplant chunks

2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 Tbsp. agave nectar

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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OVER 100,000 PEOPLE HAVE USED MY COOKBOOK TO GET THE BODY THEY WANT EATING THE FOODS THEY LOVE. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

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In short, what if I told you that proper dieting--whether you want to maximize fat loss or muscle growth--is much simpler and more enjoyable than you’ve been led to believe?

Imagine eating delicious, filling meals every day...never feeling starved or stuffed...having great energy levels and workouts...and watching your body respond exactly as you desire, dropping fat or adding muscle each and every week.

And imagine finally understanding how proper dieting really works, never again falling for the BS, tricks, and gimmicks pushed by “gurus” and other shysters.

Well, I have good news.

All these “fantasies” can be a reality...if you know how to do a handful of “little” things correctly.

You see, when you know how to diet properly--and this doesn’t mean learning to eat boiled chicken and raw broccoli six times per day--getting lean and muscular becomes simple, convenient, and dare I say...enjoyable.

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like my articles, then you'll love my bestselling books. They'll show you exactly what you need to do to build muscle and lose fat without hating your diet or living in the gym.

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