5 Healthier Pasta Dishes for Your Winter Carb Cravings

Healthier pasta is pasta-ble if you use your noodle.

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Pasta sometimes gets a reputation for being an unhealthy comfort food or “guilty pleasure,” but that’s not necessarily fair. In reality, the nutritional value of pasta can vary widely depending on the recipe. Sometimes it’s great to dig into a meaty pasta with a heap of parmesan, but if you’re wishing for healthier pasta ideas, it just takes some clever swaps.

Your first thought might be switching to whole-wheat pasta. This pasta is higher in fiber, potassium, and folate (to name a few) compared to white pasta. Indeed, switching to whole-wheat pasta is a great way to healthify pasta and get complex carbs, but it’s not the only way to have healthier pasta. In fact, it might be just as important to re-think your pasta sauce and other add-ins.

Healthier Pasta Ideas

For pasta that’s lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber and other important nutrients, try these recipe ideas:

1. Hummus pasta

Hummus pasta?? Yep! After all, it’s creamy and garlicky—just like your other favorite pasta sauces. Plus, hummus adds a punch of protein and fiber. Stir in whole chickpeas for even more fiber and protein, as well as spinach for some vitamin-packed leafy greens. (FYI, you can also stir in a little hummus to any pasta sauce for creamy chickpea goodness!)

Find out how to make hummus pasta at Gourmandelle.

2. Lentil bolognese

Meaty red sauce is a protein powerhouse, but red meat also comes with a lot of saturated fat. Diets high in saturated fat may increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

You can cut down on saturated fat by swapping in lean lentils. Not only do beans have less saturated fat than beef, but they add fiber, too. Get even more fiber and vitamins by sneaking in chopped carrots and mushrooms.

Check out how to make lentil bolognese at Minimalist Baker.

3. Fettuccine with cashew alfredo

Whenever people argue that pasta is “bad for you,” they often cite alfredo as an example. Usually, alfredo is made with butter, heavy cream, and parmesan—all major sources of saturated fat. For a healthier take on alfredo (without feeling deprived), try cashew alfredo.

Here’s how it works: When you soak raw cashews in water and then puree it, it creates a silky and luscious cashew “cream.” You can use this as the base for a dairy-free alfredo sauce with heart-healthy, unsaturated fats. To round it out, add broccoli florets for fiber.

Find out how to make cashew alfredo sauce at Downshiftology.

4. Greek yogurt penne alla vodka

Vodka sauce is another sauce with heavy cream. You could use the cashew cream hack here as well, or you could sub in Greek yogurt. Plain, unsweetened, low-fat Greek yogurt is rich yet still low in saturated fat. Plus, Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse. (Heavy cream, on the other hand, is one of the few dairy products that hardly offers any protein.)

Check out the recipe for Greek yogurt penne alla vodka from Katherine Martinelli.

5. Pumpkin and chickpea ravioli

Ravioli often contains a pouch of cheese or meat (yup, the saturated fat culprits). What if you could make a flavorful, creamy filling that’s high in fiber and other nutrients—and low in fat? This DIY ravioli recipe makes it happen. Puree roasted pumpkin, chickpeas, and garlic for a heavenly ravioli filling that’s perfect for autumn.

Find out how to make pumpkin and chickpea ravioli at Blooming Nolwenn. Pro tip: Pair this ravioli with cashew alfredo and fresh sage for the ultimate autumn pasta.

Healthier pasta? Yup, it’s pasta-ble. All you have to do is use your noodle. (Get it?)