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The Key to Turning Pasta Into a Healthy Meal

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Think a healthy pasta dinner isn’t possible? Not only are there now lots of alternative noodles available to you, you can also try this smart approach: crowd out the carbs with fresh veggies.

“I was so shocked during my Nutritious Life Certification with Keri Glassman when she said that it’s okay to eat pasta!” says chef Carla Contreras. “The thing is to have pasta with your veggies, versus the other way around.”

In other words, treat it more like a single complementary ingredient and less like the main event.

Contreras is a Nutritious Life Certified chef and health coach with a stacked resume—she’s been a private chef for prominent families, ran a meal delivery company, and even competed on Cook Your Ass Off (where she met our founder Keri, who was a judge!) and season 12 of Chopped. She’s now the founder of Cook + Chop.

Want to share your tips and recipes? Find out how to become Nutritious Life Certified, now!

dinner pasta healthy

How does she apply the more-veggies-than-penne trick in her own kitchen?

“I pile my plate high with shaved zucchini and greens and then add about a half cup of pasta,” she says. “It makes total sense. You are full and not deprived at all.”

The biggest insider trick, though, is making pesto, which, is a fresh alternative to creamy sauces that add calories instead of nutrients. Pesto adds herbs, veggies, and flavor to every single bite.

And her recipe, made with brain-boosting pumpkin seeds (AKA pepitas), is super simple and can streamline other aspects of your weekly meals, too.

“For a fast weeknight meal, meal prep the pesto on the weekend and freeze it into an ice cube tray,” Contreras recommends. “Once frozen, you can pop out and store in an airtight container. When ready to use, they will defrost quickly and you can toss in roasted or raw veggies, a chickpea pasta, or serve with spiralized noodles.”

Get chef Carla’s full recipe, here.

More ways to spice up your cooking like chef Carla:

How to Make Your Own Delicious Taco Spice Mix
How to Make Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning at Home

Blogging for is one of SO many benefits to becoming a part of The Nutritious Life Studio community. Apply now to join the spring 2019 class and become Nutritious Life Certified!

(Photos: Carla Contreras)

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