Food & Diet

3 Easy-to-Make Low-Cal Italian Pasta Dishes

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Everyone who’s trying to lose a pound, or 10, has been told to stay away from refined starches like white rice and pasta. Which basically translates to, “Italian is off-limits, buster!” This is a huge shame because there is no pleasure in this world quite like a well-made Italian pasta dish. But what if we told you that you can still have pasta even when you are watching your weight? Italian pasta in itself is not bad, in fact it can be very good for you. Italians have a way of making every dish into a balanced meal. Some carbs, some protein and some fiber, all you need to watch out for are the portion sizes and the ingredients.

To see, or rather taste for yourself we’ve provided 3 easy to make low-calorie pasta recipes that will satisfy your hankering for Italian comfort food without the guilty feelings.


In this healthy twist to a traditional meat and tomato sauce pasta, the meat is replaced with beans. Beans, like meat, are a great source of protein but without the added fat and cholesterol. This recipe makes up to 4 servings. Each serving amounts to a total of 443 calories. Not bad for a well-balanced meal. To make this dish even healthier, swap the canned beans with dried beans, scale back on the pasta and pass on the bread. Below is the recipe:

  • One 14oz. can of beans
  • One 14oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (divide into two)
  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine (or any pasta you prefer as long as its whole wheat)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan

Bring a pot of water to boiling point. Take half a cup of beans and mash them with a fork. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt until the carrots begin to soften. After that, add in the garlic and bay leaf until the garlic becomes fragrant. Deglaze the pan with white wine and stir until you’ve scraped all the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in a whole can of tomatoes, add the mashed beans and 2 tbsps. of celery. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened, this will take about 6 minutes. Add the remaining beans and cook until them until they are warmed through.

For the pasta, cook it with the boiling water you prepared earlier. Follow the package instructions for cooking the pasta. TIP: season boiling water with salt when the water has boiled and not before (adding salt before boiling will make the water take longer to boil).




This recipe was especially designed by weight watchers so you know this meal will be exceptionally healthy and low in calories. Full of protein and fiber, this recipe is sure to provide healthy fuel for your body throughout the day. The recipe yields 4 servings. Serving size is about 1 cup and 277 calories each. This is how you make it:

  • of uncooked whole wheat pasta noodles
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken strips
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 14-15oz. can of artichoke hearts (drain, rinse and chop)
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup white wine (can be substituted with low-fat low-sodium chicken broth and some lemon juice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Season chicken strips with salt and pepper. While the pasta is cooking, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet. Once the pan is hot, cook chicken strips through (around 6 minutes) and set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and sauté broccoli and garlic. After the broccoli has been sautéing for 2-3 minutes, add the remaining vegetables. In a small bowl, stir flour into white wine, after the flour has been dissolved enough add the mixture to the pan and stir. Cook until the flour is cooked through and sauce has thickened (approx. 3-4 minutes). Add chicken strips and season to your liking.

To serve: Separate the pasta equally into 4 bowls and top them with the chicken artichoke mixture. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Source:, adapted from Weight Watchers


This recipe is a great way to have your cake and eat it too—but with bacon. That’s right, you get a pasta dish that has 285 calories but with bacon! Great for when you feel like eating something indulgent but don’t want to take two steps back in your diet. The recipe makes about four 1 ½ cup servings. Here’s how to make this scrumptious dish:

  • 6-8 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 6 slices uncooked reduced fat bacon (you may opt for turkey bacon), cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper or to taste

Cook spaghetti according to package instructions, reserve ¼ cup of starchy pasta cooking water for later use. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Once hot, cook the bacon strips until crispy. Remove from pan and then set aside. Cook onions in bacon drippings until they become a little bit browned. Pour the tomatoes, reserved cooking water and add the bacon in along with the red pepper flakes. Mix well.

Source:, from Weight Watchers

There you have it! These recipes are a reminder that eating healthy is not about excluding food from your diet but about managing these foods to better fit your healthy lifestyle.