Pasta dishes are convenient, delicious, and easy to make when you’re pressed for time at home. They’re family-friendly and affordable too, but not all pasta dinners are the same when you consider the nutritional value and ingredients.
Here are some suggestions for how to make your favorite pasta recipes healthier and with more whole, natural ingredients.
Choose Whole Grain Pasta
There are lots of different kinds of pasta available, and some types are definitely healthier than others. You can easily find whole wheat pasta at the average supermarket, which will help you get more whole grains in your diet rather than processed carbohydrates.
However, also keep an eye out for unique types of pasta, such as noodle substitutes made with zucchini or butternut squash. Another option is chickpea pasta, which has extra protein and fiber for your meal. Soba noodles are a Japanese-style of noodles made from buckwheat to try as well.
Add More Vegetables
One of the best things about pasta is that you can add pretty much anything to it and pull together an awesome meal. Many different kinds of vegetables work well in pasta, depending on your tastes and preferences. Some options to try include tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, carrots, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. Olives, eggplant, celery, and fresh herbs are other good options when you are rethinking your pasta nights in the kitchen.
Try Different Kinds of Protein
There are lot more protein options than just beef-based meatballs to consider when you’re making a pasta dinner. Seafood works very well with pasta, such as shrimp, salmon, and tilapia. You can also add tofu or chickpeas to pasta to make a vegetarian or vegan pasta dish that doesn’t skimp on the protein. Baked chicken breasts, lean turkey meatballs, and nuts can all be added to pasta to provide an extra protein boost and turn a simple pasta dish into a full meal.
Make Your Own Sauce
The sauce you choose for your pasta makes a big difference in how healthy and nutritious it is. Avoid heavy cream sauces that are packed with fat and calories. Tomato-based sauces are generally healthier, especially if you choose low-sodium versions of store-bought sauces.
To control exactly what is in your pasta sauce, consider making your own DIY version with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and lemon. If you’re craving something creamier, you can mix plain Greek yogurt and ricotta cheese with your pasta for a healthier version of a standard cream sauce.
Example Healthy Pasta Recipe
Ready to take a healthier spin on pasta for your next family dinner night? Here’s a sample recipe to try that’s easy, healthy, and filled with natural ingredients.
Salmon, Lemon, and Garlic Pasta Recipe
- 16-ounce box of whole wheat pasta (style of your choice)
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- 1-pound salmon fillet
- 3 tbsp. capers
- 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan cheese for topping
- Bake salmon for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees
- Cook pasta according to directions on package
- Season pasta after cooking with remaining ingredients (except for parmesan cheese)
- Cut salmon into small pieces and mix with pasta
- Top with Parmesan cheese and serve