Pasta and weight loss simply don’t sound like two things that can go hand-in-hand. But here at Nutrisystem, we believe that transitioning to a healthier lifestyle should not have to mean giving up all of the things that you love—pasta included! Sometimes all it takes is just a little bit of creativity to devise pasta recipes that use healthy substitutions.
At your local grocery store, you can most likely find a large variety of healthy pasta swaps, such as spiralized veggies, whole wheat noodles, gluten-free pasta and even spaghetti squash! We’ve rounded up 20 of our best (and simple) recipes that will give you your healthy pasta fix while still keeping you on track with your weight loss goals.
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1. Pasta and Meatball Skewers >
If pasta and meatballs is one of your favorite comfort food combos, then you probably know how easy it is to overindulge in this classic dish. One heaping turns into two or more and soon you’ve eaten way too many servings. That’s what makes these skewers so great. It forces you to slow down and savor what you’re eating. That helps with portion control but also allows you to realize when you’re full. Oftentimes when we eat fast, we don’t give our stomach the chance to tell our brain that we’re satisfied!
2. Cashew Cream Veggie Pasta >
This pasta meal gives you the decadence of a creamy dish but without the cheese. Instead, we prepare it with a homemade cashew cream sauce. If you’re trying to avoid dairy, this will be one of your go-to healthy pasta recipes. Filled with healthy fats and fiber, this dish also features vitamin-packed spinach and tomatoes to help you get your fill of daily veggies.
3. Chicken A La King >
This flavor-filled recipe has a little bit of everything by combining chicken, ziti and a variety of veggies all in one delicious dish. It’s colorful and nutritious with wholesome vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and celery cooked in just a small amount of butter. If you’re someone who is tired of boring chicken dishes night after night, then this is a great way to jazz up your dinner.
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4. No-Bake French Onion Beef Casserole >
If you’re looking for comfort food that won’t totally derail your healthy eating plan, then this dish is sure to become a new favorite. Although most casseroles are made in the oven, this no-bake version is cooked on the stovetop. While the end result is creamy and decadent, a serving is a mere 326 calories. This is achieved with some healthy substitutions, such as using part-skim mozzarella and light sour cream instead of the full-fat versions. That means you’ll get your creamy pasta fix in a healthful way.
5. Shrimp Pasta with Garlic Asparagus >
If you’re someone who thinks healthy shrimp pasta recipes are too difficult to make at home, this meal will change your tune. Shrimp dishes can be much simpler to whip up than you might imagine and are a great way to incorporate lean protein into your diet. This particular recipe also features asparagus, which is a great source of nutrients including fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K. You’ll feel like you got a restaurant-quality meal but will know that it was a healthy choice—and you’ll be proud that you made it yourself.
6. Shrimp Fra Diavolo >
If you love spicy seafood dishes, then Shrimp Fra Diavolo might be a favorite. In this recipe, we’ve created a lighter version of this classic favorite. With antioxidant-packed tomatoes and the addition of some bell peppers and onions, it’s got plenty of veggies. But it’s the lean protein that shines in this dish! Shrimp is high in several vitamins and minerals while also serving as a rich source of protein.
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7. Sweet & Savory Spaghetti Squash Bowl >
This recipe is a great choice if you’re looking for a pasta-like dinner without the pasta. Spaghetti squash makes an excellent noodle-alternative for your healthy pasta recipes because it’s low in calories and high in fiber. It’s one of our favorite foods here at Nutrisystem, thanks to being considered a non-starchy, unlimited veggie that is highly versatile. In this dish, we combine it with diced sweet potato, seasonings, honey and goat cheese for a decadent-tasting meal that’s good for you, too. One serving is just 288 calories.
8. Zoodle Mac and Cheese with Roasted Veggies >
This meal is a great way to get your pasta fix without the pasta by using spiralized zucchini (also known as zoodles). It features a lighter cheese sauce that’s made with reduced-fat shredded cheese and some nonfat milk. Plus, it packs in a ton of roasted veggies for plenty of antioxidant goodness. With everything from broccoli and bell peppers to onions and sweet potatoes, this dish is chock-full of flavor and healthy fiber, too.
9. Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Pasta >
Shrimp scampi is often a restaurant favorite. However, it’s known for having lots of butter and being loaded with carb-heavy white pasta. Our version removes the butter and goes low-carb with healthy spiralized zucchini and just a handful of whole wheat spaghetti. But have no fear, all that flavor you love is still there. It’s a great way to enjoy a classic dish with a healthy twist.
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10. Instant Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup >
Besides being warm and comforting, particularly during colder months, soups are also fantastic for packing in the veggies. This soup does not disappoint! It has carrots, celery and tomatoes featured alongside hearty beans, lean ground chicken and just enough pasta to fulfill your craving without sending you into carb overload. A serving is hearty enough to count as a Flex Meal and won’t leave you feeling hungry after eating.
11. 15-Minute Beef Lo Mein >
Nothing tops an easy-to-make meal that’s healthy, too. That is certainly the case for this tasty Beef Lo Mein dish that incorporates flank steak strips with lo mein noodles, healthy snow peas and carrots. It has all the flavor of take-out without the typical fat and calories associated with it. Plus, you’ll be able to whip it up a lot faster than calling for delivery.
12. Spinach Stuffed Mussels & Shrimp >
If you’re a seafood lover, then you’ll definitely want to add this recipe to your weekly lineup. It combines mussels and shrimp with cooked spinach, parmesan cheese and whole wheat spaghetti—all covered in a tomato garlic sauce that adds a major burst of flavor. It’s both delicious and nutritious, making it a win all around.
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13. Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Pasta >
Pasta Bolognese is an Italian favorite—but the pasta and the red meat can also make it a heavy, calorie-packed and fat-filled dish. Our version is much lighter, swapping out pasta with spaghetti squash and the traditional mix of beef, veal and pork with lean ground turkey. Still packed with flavor, our healthier recipe also shines a spotlight on the veggies with peas, zucchini, onions and tomatoes sneaking their way in. It’s so full of flavor that you’ll forget it’s a healthy twist on a classic dish.
14. Creamy Spinach Gnocchi >
If you’re looking for the creamy goodness of pasta in cheese sauce but don’t want to wreak havoc on your weight loss regimen, then this dish has got you covered. It uses low-fat ricotta and parmesan cheese for a simple sauce that kicks up the flavor factor on some whole wheat gnocchi. Add in some vitamin-packed spinach and sundried tomatoes and it’s clear to see how this dish has it all.
15. Healthy Chicken Piccata >
As yummy as classic chicken piccata may be, its downfall is in the heaps of butter it’s traditionally browned in. Typically served atop carb-loaded pasta, it’s easy to see how this dish can be a diet detour. But don’t worry—we’ve created a healthier version! This recipe eliminates the butter but adds in nonfat plain Greek yogurt to get that creamy texture. It still has plenty of flavor. Served over top of whole wheat pasta, it’s also got some hearty fiber.
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16. Vegetable Lasagna Bake >
Our Vegetable Lasagna Bake is a great example of how you can have your favorite pasta recipes while still sticking to your healthy weight loss plan. This version packs in spinach and butternut squash, a low-calorie, fiber-rich winter veggie that adds a touch of sweetness. With just the right amount of low-fat cheeses, it’ll satisfy your lasagna longing without derailing your diet.
17. Vegetarian Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles >
Whereas traditional meatballs are made from a combination of pork, beef and veal, our healthy vegetarian meatballs are made from brown lentils, mushrooms and oats. Still seasoned and baked to deliciousness, these meatballs are big on flavor—and fiber—while being low in fat and calories. Served atop zucchini noodles with no-sugar-added marinara sauce, it’s a great way to get your spaghetti and meatball fix in a healthful way.
18. Slow Cooked Beef Stroganoff >
This classic meal has the same ingredients as the traditional version, including top round roast, beef broth, onions, mushrooms and noodles. However, some healthy substitutions help to make it lighter and healthier. Fortunately, it’s still so full of flavor that you would never notice the difference! It will give you that classic comfort that you crave from this hearty favorite.
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19. Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl with Creamy Almond Butter Sauce >
This noodle bowl replaces carb-laden noodles with healthy spiralized sweet potatoes. Add to that some lean cooked shrimp, antioxidant-packed spinach and a delicious, homemade almond butter sauce and you’ve got a tasty meal that won’t disappoint.
20. Air Fryer Italian Spaghetti Squash >
Spaghetti squash and lasagna unite in this healthy air fryer recipe that’s filled with Italian-inspired ingredients. Low sodium marinara sauce, part skim ricotta, mozzarella cheese, spinach and oregano are tossed with spaghetti squash noodles and stuffed back into the homemade squash “bowl.” It’s a healthy and simple meal that almost tastes too good to be true.
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