Five delicious - but realistic - tips to make pasta dishes healthier

·3-min read

As a nearly perfect dish, especially when it’s topped with a marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese or a creamy alfredo, it’s no wonder that pasta is a commonly preferred food of choice.

And while this high-carb meal isn’t the only food that one should be having every day, it isn’t always easy to turn away from a pasta diet.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to put a healthy and delicious spin on the beloved dish. So, the next time you’re out shopping for pasta ingredients, there are a few things you may want to add to your list.

Add some veggies

Veggies can  add nutrients to your pasta. (AnnaPustynnikova/iStockphoto)
Veggies can add nutrients to your pasta. (AnnaPustynnikova/iStockphoto)

While cutting down on your pasta intake doesn’t sound ideal, a simple vegetable addition can make all the difference. Whether it’s spinach, onions, peppers, eggplant, or squash, vegetables that are high in nutrients, including potassium and vitamin A, can make your dish taste even better than before.

When it comes to preparing those veggies, Everyday Health notes that you can cut them up and then lightly sauté or steam them. After that, you simply toss them in with your already cooked pasta.

Add protein

Chicken can be a source of protein in a meal. (YelenaYemchuk/iStockphoto)
Chicken can be a source of protein in a meal. (YelenaYemchuk/iStockphoto)

Similar to vegetables, there are many different types of proteins complement a pasta dish. For example, as noted by Eating Well, adding walnuts to certain pasta sauces, like pesto, can come with benefits. In fact, 12 to 14 walnut halves alone can add five extra grams of protein to your lunch or dinner.

While you likely already know that meats such as chicken, steak, and eggs are high in protein, they aren’t the only nutritious and pasta-friendly foods out there. Some others include tofu, beans, and edamame, which can taste great when paired with the right sauce.

Choose a whole grain pasta

Whole grain pasta can be a healthy alternative. (ollo/iStockphotoe)
Whole grain pasta can be a healthy alternative. (ollo/iStockphotoe)

While it may not have the same taste as regular pasta, whole-grain pasta can be beneficial to your overall health. Accordinng to WebMD, whole-grain pasta is rich in vitamins and minerals, some of which include zinc, iron, and vitamin B.

In regards to a more long-lasting impact, whole grains can do a lot to support your heart. The medical site notes that people who eat an appropriate amount of whole grains a day have up to a 30 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Plus, when paired with a sauce, veggies, and some cheese, you most likely won’t realise that your pasta is whole grain.

Chop up some fresh herbs

Parsely is a beloved pasta garninsh. (FotografiaBasica/iStockphoto)
Parsely is a beloved pasta garninsh. (FotografiaBasica/iStockphoto)

Whether you grow them in your yard or buy them at a local supermarket, fresh herbs can add a lot of minerals to a high-carb diet. While speaking to Better by Today back in 2018, Sara Has, RDN, explained that one cup of chopped parsley “provides over one thousand per cent of your daily value of vitamin K.”

And while you won’t be garnishing your pasta with that much parsley, adding a few sprinkles of it to your dish could be a good place to start- all while increasing the flavour.

Try making your own sauce

There are many different ways to make your own sauce. (GMVozd/iStockphoto)
There are many different ways to make your own sauce. (GMVozd/iStockphoto)

Although making your own sauce may feel like an extra step as opposed to just using sauce from a can, it gives you an opportunity to know what exactly is in your food. And, the task of making sauce is much simpler than one may think, as it only take a few minutes, according to this receipe for a five-minute marinara sauce.

As noted by Insider, using tomatoes, garlic, and herbs can help give you that vitamin K that your body needs. Or, if you want to lower calorie intake, your personal sauce can just consist of olive oil and parmesan cheese.

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