5 tips to get your pasta fix without blowing your calorie budget

Pasta lovers, unite! Despite what you might think, pasta is not off-limits if you're watching your weight. Read on for guilt-free tips and picks to keep you on track, courtesy of Hungry Girl.

Veggie-rific Pasta Swaps

Broccoli cole slaw, which comes pre-shredded and bagged in the produce section, might not seem like an obvious pasta swap at first glance. But when cooked until soft (in the microwave or on the stove) and tossed with low-fat marinara sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, and reduced-fat Parmesan topping, you've got a delicious, pasta-like light meal or filling snack. The best part about this pasta swap? You can eat a GIANT bowl for hardly any calories. For Asian noodle dishes, swap in stir-fried bean sprouts.

More from Hungry Girl: A three-ingredient recipe made with broccoli cole slaw!

Pasta-Like Products

When it comes to pasta substitutes, Tofu Shirataki noodles are definitely as close to the real thing as you can get. And here's the best part... Each 1/2-bag serving has just 20 calories! INSANITY. In addition to the awesome stats, these noodles are a big time-saver because you don't have to boil water and wait for them to cook. Just drain, rinse, dry thoroughly, and then heat in the microwave or a skillet until hot. One important tip: Skip the tomato sauce; these work best with creamy, cheesy sauces (made from guilt-free ingredients like The Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges). Grab a bag (or two, or three) during your next grocery run. You'll find them in the refrigerated section near the tofu.

More from Hungry Girl: Our classic Tofu Shirataki recipe -- Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo!

High-Fiber Picks

If you're going for the real deal (let's face it -- sometimes nothing else will do), your best bet is to look for whole-wheat pasta with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving (like Barilla PLUS); fiber helps fill you up. Then keep the portion in check -- one cup of cooked pasta is just right. Measure it out so you don't mistakenly overdo it. Our ultimate real pasta pick is FiberGourmet Light Pasta. Each serving is way lower in calories than regular pasta and has a whopping 18 grams of fiber! WOW. The FiberGourmet brand even has a crazy-amazing boxed mac 'n cheese. The only downside? It's not easy to find in stores... you'll most likely have to order online. So worth it, though!

More from Hungry Girl: BLT-rific Mac 'n Cheese!

Bulk It Up

If that one-cup serving isn't doing it for you (we feel your pain), here's a little tip. Bulk it up with veggies! While chopped vegetables are great, we like to mix a serving of spinach fettuccine noodles with steamed zucchini "ribbons" (made by peeling zucchini with a vegetable peeler). They blend together perfectly both visually and taste-wise, and you can have a HUGE portion of pasta (2 1/2 cups) for just 230 calories. You can do the same trick with spaghetti noodles and cooked spaghetti squash strands. Hooray for supersized portions with slimmed-down stats!

More from Hungry Girl: Picnic-Perfect Pasta Salad!

Portion-Controlled Frozen Meals

If it's pasta you crave, don't discount the freezer aisle. Frozen pasta meals have built-in portion control and the convenience factor going for them. Read the nutrition labels carefully -- you want to make sure the meal only has one serving per container. Choose entrées with around 350 calories and no more than 10 grams of fat. Some of our favorites? Amy's Light & Lean Spinach Lasagna, Morningstar Farms Sesame Chik'n (which comes with Asian-style noodles), and almost any noodle-y dish from Lean Cuisine.

More from Hungry Girl: Our most recent frozen-food reviews!



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