Pasta isn’t the healthiest food around, but there are ways to make a pasta dish healthier, and we’re going to look at 5 easy ways to do it.

Bethany D. Lavins-Merillat, a health research psychologist, says that “Enhancing pasta with a few simple swaps is a great way for people to effortlessly make small changes to their diets that will yield significant results.”

Let’s face it, who wants to have to eliminate pasta from their diet completely? Follow these tips and add these ingredients for a healthier pasta meal instead.

1. Add Vegetables

Vegetables add extra fiber to your diet, but they can also enhance the flavor of the meal. Lavins-Merillat suggests buying higher quality ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes instead of tinned ones for a red sauce. She also recommends buying organic items like bell peppers, spinach, beans and squash. “You will taste the difference and it will leave you feeling more satisfied with your meal.”

Spinach or kale are also easy to stir in, as the hot pasta makes them wilt. Blend cooked veggies like squash, zucchini or peppers and add to a red sauce for extra flavor. If you’re eating spaghetti or linguine, try swapping half of them for spiralized veggie noodles instead.

2. Make Your Own Sauces

tomato-sauce

It can be quick to make your own sauces, and all you need is a bit of olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese to make a great flavor for your pasta.

You can also cook tomatoes with garlic and herbs for fresh tomato sauce, or make a healthier version of Alfredo with cashew cream.

3. Use Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs add lots of flavor without adding calories, says Lavins-Merillat. Try growing basil and other flavorful herbs at home so you always have some to hand.

4. Swap Your Proteins

Try swapping ground meat for crumbled tempeh, or add different types of beans to your pasta and thicken the sauce with Greek yogurt for extra flavor and protein.

You could also use sardine or salmon in place of sausage, or pair grilled tofu with shiitake mushrooms to add to your pasta.

5. Vary Your Pasta

pasta

Try switching your white flour pasta for healthier alternatives, such as whole wheat pasta, or pasta made from beans, chickpeas or another whole food source.

Lavins-Merillat says: “The best way to enhance it is to focus on whole food additions with limited ingredients lists, organic and non-GMO sources, and minimal sugar and salt additions.”

She adds that you should check the cooking times of different pastas before starting, as some types may require different than normal cooking times.