A plate of pasta isn’t exactly a “healthy” meal, but given the season, we’re all for gorging on our favorite comfort foods (no matter the calorie content). With that said, there are small tweaks you can make while preparing a pasta dish that make it decidedly healthier, reports Self.
First on their list? Making a homemade pasta sauce instead of opting for the canned version. “Many store-bought sauces are packed with sodium and added sugar,” said Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., of Street Smart Nutrition to the magazine. “Even if your cooking skills are limited, it’s easy to whip up a makeshift marinara with just a can of tomatoes, plus some combination of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and wine.” If you’re super pressed for time, Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., has given Rao’s Homemade Marinara and Mario Batali Tomato Sauce her seal of approval.
Harbstreet and Gorin also recommend loading up on vegetables, adding a protein, measuring out your olive oil instead of pouring from the bottle, and considering a few easy and healthy swaps.
You can lighten up an Alfredo sauce by subbing in Greek yogurt for heavy cream, for example. “As for bolognese, subbing in lentils or mushrooms for half the meat will increase the volume and boost your fiber and veggie intake,” Gorin adds. She also swears by using smaller pasta shapes like elbow macaroni or cavatappi. “In a serving, you get more pieces of pasta, versus a larger pasta like a rigatoni.”