If only I could eat pasta and white bread for dinner every night, I’d be one happy eater. Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, but it’s also the food that can be the cause of more than a few extra pounds on our bodies. Since white pasta is made from refined wheat flour, the refining process makes it starchy and stripped of nutrition. Raise your hand if you make pasta more than twice a week? I do. And I’m a healthy eater. Most times I make it, not for me, but for my children and husband. Here are “healthy swaps” options for pasta that I like to incorporate in dishes for my family.
Healthy Pasta Swap Options:
- Instead of white pasta use whole grains like organic spelt pasta or buckwheat soba noodles
- Instead of white pasta use gluten-free pasta form like brown rice or quinoa
- Instead of white pasta use vegetables like shredded zucchini (my favorite when I cut all grains out of my diet) or spaghetti squash or cauliflower or broccoli slaw
- Instead of heavy cream or cream of mushroom use greek yogurt
- Instead of butter use water or vegetable/chicken broth
- Instead of regular cheese use raw goat cheese, which is easier to digest and contains more nutrition than cow’s milk.
For healthy pasta sauce swaps, I have three basic recipes I use: red, pesto and creamy. These sauces are healthy and good for clean eating. I usually will make a big batch and use it throughout the week. They are tasty on steamed or roasted veggies, a sauce for meat, a spread for a wrap or a droplet on a salad.
The first sauce is the creamy sauce. It is similar to most milk-based pasta sauces, but much cleaner and lower in calories and fat. In this dish, I used rice pasta, but it will taste just as good on any of the other healthy swaps.
Creamy Pasta Sauce
1 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions: Combine in bowl and stir until well blended. Pour over cooked pasta. Add fresh broccoli and tomato slices. Then stirred it all together over low heat. Garnish with parsley leaf. Good also over chicken.
The second pasta sauce I am sharing is one of my favorite: pesto sauce. In the summer I grow a ton of basil. To use my basil up, I make a huge batch of this pesto sauce that will last me the entire year. It’s so convenient when dinner comes around or when I need a spread for veggies or meat. In this dish, I used buckwheat soba noodles and sprinkled pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes on top.
3 heaping cups Spinach
2.5 oz fresh Basil (they usually sell this amount in the store)
1/2 Lemon, juiced
2-4 cloves of Garlic
1 cup Pine nuts
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold-pressed)
Instructions: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend. Blend until smooth. Serve as a dip or over pasta. We even use it on our homemade pizza. For storing long term, place in a freezer container.
The last healthy swap sauce I am sharing is the red sauce. This sauce uses all fresh produce; no tomatoes in a jar. The red sauce is good as a pizza sauce base, with lasagna or manicotti or any other favorite pasta dish you like. I made this dish with rice pasta and parmesan cheese.
3-5 Tbs. Sun Dried Tomatoes, julienne cut
5-8 firm Tomatoes, I like Roma
1 cup fresh Basil, chopped
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. Real Salt or Himalayan Salt
Instructions: Place all the ingredients in a blender and pulse until it is a smooth consistency.
Don’t deprive yourself from your favorite pasta dishes. With just a few adjustments you will be enjoying pasta while eating clean and not gaining unnecessary weight.