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Healthy Pasta? 6 Protein-Packed (and Guilt Free) Variations of A Dinner Staple

Healthy Pasta? 6 Protein-Packed (and Guilt Free) Variations of A Dinner Staple

Mmmm Pasta.

Am I right? We don’t even need to say which kind of pasta. Just, ‘mmm pasta,’ and you know what we mean: yummy, comforting, heart-warming, fulfilling pasta.

Mamma mia!

If only there were a way to make this quick dinner staple healthy.

But wait, there is.

In fact, there are many ways to have healthy pasta and - even better healthy - high protein pasta. Who said you needed to choose?

You can have your figurative cake and eat it too!

We put together a list of super easy 30-minute or less protein pasta recipes that are both mouthwatering and taste-bud fooling, making anyone at home (including you!) feel happy and satisfied with healthy pasta options for any day of the week - and especially well suited for dinner!

But first, let’s talk about protein pasta replacements you can order online or pick up at your local healthy grocery store. Their pros and cons and how to best use them. If you already know these healthy pasta replacements, skip ahead, pick a recipe and get cooking!

Healthy Pasta Options

These pantry upgrades turn any pasta recipe into a healthy one:

  • Chickpea Pasta: chickpeas and most beans, in general, are high in protein.
    • Pros: it’s similar in color and taste to regular pasta. It’s gluten-free, rich in fiber and packed with protein!
    • Cons: we can’t think of any!
    • Brands: Either buy online or visit your local health food store to find Banza, Barilla, Olo Organic, Explore Cuisine, Lensi, and Tolerant, as the major players. There are usually some artisanal ones available. Check the packaging and ingredients to find the best protein pasta option for your needs.
  • Lentil Pasta: similar to the chickpea one it is super high protein pasta and also tastes delicious.
    • Pros: it’s probably one of the tastiest bean-based pasta out there, it can have up to 21g of protein, and looks great in their different red and green colors.
    • Cons: It doesn’t look like traditional whole wheat pasta, so if you’re looking for a specific aesthetic chickpea pasta might be best. That’s hardly a con anyway!
    • Brands: Bentilia, Tolerant, POW! By Ancient Harvest, Modern Table, etc.
  • Black Bean Pasta:  it is a remarkably savory alternative to regular whole wheat and strikes a pose with its distinctive black color.
    • Pros: High protein pasta, great flavor, and texture. Can have up to 21g of protein depending on the brand.
    • Cons: It retains a lot of the original black bean taste so some popular recipes may fall flat when compared to the original. Our recommendation is to try it with fresh, zesty flavors and in salads at first, to get a feel of its palatability for you and your family.
    • Brands: Organic, Tolerant, POW! By Ancient Harvest, and many other artisanal ones. Always read the label to get the most out of your protein pasta.
  • Konjac Flour: it’s a shirataki pasta with 0 to no calories in it. It’s known as the miracle pasta, it’s not a high protein pasta, but it is a nice option if you’re looking for healthy pasta.
    • Pros: Gluten free, 0 to 5 calories, 1g of carbs.
    • Cons: it needs to be lightly boiled at first and then dry-roasted to get the best possible texture. That’s a lot of work, but for 0 calories maybe worth it.
    • Brand: Miracle Noodle
  • Soba Noodles: makes the protein pasta list with 6g per serving, perhaps less than its bean or bean-mix counterparts, it is an excellent alternative for Asian-inspired recipes and to mix it up if you’re not entirely in love with bean pasta yet.
    • Pros: contains magnesium, zinc, thiamin, potassium, phosphorus, and iron in addition to protein. It’s also a prebiotic food and gluten-free.
    • Cons: We can’t think of any!
    • Brands: Any that you find in the supermarket or online, there are many options and all are valid!

If you’re concerned about your protein intake, remember you can always have a complete protein drink as a meal replacement, or to support your diet.

Six Quick Protein Pasta Recipes that Put ‘Healthy’ Back in this Dinner Staple

#1 30 Minute Zucchini Protein Pasta with Lentil Bolognese

Vegan. 25 grams of protein. Finger-sucking, plate-licking, good. So healthy, some people might not even call it pasta (it doesn’t even count as a cheat meal!), but so flavorful the Nonna could -almost- be fooled. Protein pasta that turns your favorite bolognese into a healthy pasta recipe.

Intrigued?

Then get ready to make some magic, you’ll need: 30 minutes (enough to watch a Netflix show as you chop and stir), some low sodium marinara sauce, garlic, one medium shallot, two to three medium carrots, lentils, and some raw zucchini  noodles that you can buy or make yourself. Plus some staple spices you likely have at home. Let’s get cracking!

Recipe by: MinimalistBaker

#2 High Protein Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet potatoes are not fattening. We’re here to debunk the idea that carbs are the devil! You need carbs, and protein, and natural unprocessed sugars. This vegetarian recipe is quick, easy and fun to make with a partner, friends or kids!

This is a high protein pasta recipe with an unbelievable 18.9g per serving. 100 grams of sweet potato has 2 grams of protein, 35% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, 380% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, 21 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber. Since this recipe has egg and ½ of Ricotta cheese, it quickly builds the protein intake, while also giving you that satisfying warm fuzzy feeling that comes from healthy pasta.

To make it vegan, replace the cheese with nutritional yeast. Choose a B12 enriched one, nutritional yeast has 9g of protein per serving and it is a complete one too!

Can’t wait to make this? Click below.

Recipe by: Weight Loss Australia

#3 Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale

Move over steak, Hulk protein pasta is here to take your place. OK, maybe if you eat meat this won’t replace your most beloved steak. However, it will give it a run for its money:

This healthy pasta recipe has a whopping 19.5 grams of protein coming from the chickpeas + 5.8 g of from the kale, and an extra 4.5 g pine nuts for the total recipe. It serves two, so each serving has about 14.9 grams of protein. It is delicious, super light, and perfect for a fall or winter weekly dinner. It is comforting and innovative enough that you won’t feel it’s predictable or get bored of it quickly. Make it a cheat meal by accompanying it with some red wine ;)

You can make this vegan or vegetarian by either skipping the cheese or replacing with nutritional yeast.

Recipe by: Love And Lemons

#4 25 Minute Vegetarian Black Bean Pasta

With 12g of protein per serving, only 255 calories, and barely 3g of fat, this protein pasta is one of the healthiest and most savory options on this list! Mixing whole wheat fettuccini, black beans, baby portobello mushrooms (yum!), rosemary, oregano, and baby spinach this is healthy pasta that you can have for dinner 100% guilt-free.

Excited to try it? We are!

Recipe by TasteOfHome

#5 High Protein Vegan Mac and Cheese

No high protein pasta list can exist without some good ole Mac n’ Cheese! This is one of those kid favorites you can sneakily use to try and replace the cheeto-orange-poison-burrito that most of the boxed ones are. We’re serious, those things are not good for you or our children!

This whole recipe takes twenty minutes to make and serves three people easily, using chickpea pasta, red lentils (for the faux-mac) and three tablespoons of nutritional yeast it is high in protein and flavor. Each serving of this healthy pasta has about 15.6g of protein, making it an ideal go-to for vegans, growing children, and anyone training for muscle growth.

Recipe by: Blooming Nolwenn

#6 Edamame, Tofu, and Veggies, Protein Pasta

So you’re feeling like some Asian noodles? Not really in the Mediterranean diet mood? We got you.  This high protein pasta uses Explore Cuisine’s Edamame Pasta (which you can find on Amazon here) which has 13g of fiber and 24g of protein. A wonderful low glycemic option that really kicks regular noodles to the curb.

This thirty-minute recipe is beginner-cook friendly and super flavorful. If you’re not feeling the tofu, replace with mushroom mix, Tempeh or Chicken if that’s your thing. However, the edamame pasta is so protein-rich already, you can simply skip it and enjoy with the veggies!

Recipe by: Nicole Osinga

Bonus: Gluten Free High Protein Vegan Bacon!

Need a garnish for that healthy pasta? Is your mac and cheese missing some bacon sprinkles? There are many faux-bacon recipes out there, so we chose two that may be good enough to fool the kids:

  • Tofu Based ‘Bacon’ by Exceedingly Vegan. all you need is firm tofu, miso paste, paprika powder, garlic powder, soy sauce, and some olive oil. Super easy and also great for salads. This turns any basic protein pasta into a monster protein pasta!
  • Crispy Mushroom ‘Bacon’ by Serious Eats. not a soy/tofu person? No problem. This recipe uses king oyster mushrooms (which are amazing!) vegetable, a little maple syrup, paprika powder, garlic powder, and some vegetable oil. Really, give this a try the kids (and you) will love it!

Whip up a healthy pasta for lunch or dinner and applaud yourself for a job well done. Another dinner, done and day, conquered. Health from the inside out requires daily work and making changes to our less than healthy favorites.

You’re doing amazing by just researching!

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