Vegetable alfredo that's actually light and healthy! This easy to make alfredo pasta is packed with veggies and has the best creamy Parmesan sauce.
This veggie alfredo has become one of our family's favorite pasta dishes. My kids love the creamy alfredo sauce and I love that they are inhaling their veggies. They also love this healthy Chicken Broccoli Alfredo and skinny alfredo sauce made with caulfilower.
Alfredo is one of those things that seems like it would be impossible to make lower calorie but we have ways...oh we have ways. You CAN make the foods you love lower in calories and fat if you just experiment a little and look for tried-and-true substitutes.
To make this healthy vegetable alfredo, I used low fat milk and Parmesan cheese. And then, because I love my veggies, I added in asparagus, cauliflower, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and lemon zest. Then, I piled it high atop some high fiber pasta and seasoned it with salt and pepper.
Once I figured out a recipe for this alfredo, I couldn't wait to make it for everyone and anyone. First up, my neighbors. We have them over every once in a while and I think they secretly love being my recipe guinea pigs. No one has yet to complain so I'll take that as a positive.
Shortly thereafter, I made this again for my in-laws. And THEN I made it for a couple of my girlfriends for a little girls' dinner. Let's just say it got better every time and with a few tweaks here and there, I am easily able to customize it to everyone's liking as well.
Recipe Ideas for Vegetable Alfredo
The following are ways in which I have customized this dish over time:
- By adding or subtracting veggies. Hate it? Leave it out. Love it? Throw it in there!
- If you don't have time to mince your garlic, go ahead and use the store bought kind. Trader Joe's also sells a finely diced garlic in frozen cubes — they are my new favorite thing.
- Sub regular flour for whole wheat.
- Use whatever milk you have on hand. Remember, using skim means less fat and calories, but you also don't always have time to run to the store for the exact things you need.
- Add in grilled chicken strips (leftovers work great!) or you could use beef, shrimp, or even tofu for some added protein.
- You know I'm a big fan of the chickpea. Pop open a can, rinse, and add to veggies as you cook for a nutty, protein punch.
- Vary your mushrooms. Try adding button, portobello, and shiitake for some interesting depth of flavor.
- If you don't have high fiber pasta, try substituting whole wheat or another kind of noodle. Zoodles work great in this recipe, too.
- Top your dish with red pepper flakes if you like it spicy!
Side Dishes to Serve with Vegetable Alfredo
I typically don't serve much with this filling dish. However, I feel like I'm dining at Olive Garden or another similar Italian restaurant if I serve this with a cup of homemade soup or a side salad. Toss in some cauliflower "bread" sticks and you're in business.
Rolls or slices of French bread or baguette typically pair well with alfredo as well.
Of course, you can always double (or are we tripling at this point?) your veggie intake and add a side of roasted vegetables. Try some Brussels sprouts or a sweet potato, or purchase some pre-packaged broccoli slaw and add a little balsamic, olive oil, and your favorite fresh herbs and mix all together before serving.
What Makes This Vegetable Alfredo Healthy?
In addition to cutting out the extra fat by not using full-fat butter and milk, the other ingredients in this dish really make it truly healthy meal.
- High fiber pasta gives you an extra dose of — you guessed it, fiber! Eating it can help you feel fuller, longer than regular pasta and it can help to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. It also keeps you regular, if you are lacking in fiber in other meals.
- Asparagus is full of great nutrients such as vitamins C, E, B, and K and it's low in calories. It's also low sodium and can keep you hydrated.
- Sun Dried tomatoes contain all the nutrients of tomatoes, just in a concentrated form. You'll still get all the tomatoey goodness, such as vitamins C, K, iron, and lycopene. If you get them not packed in oil, you'll also leave all the extra, oily fat behind.
- Mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants, which protect your body from those pesky free radicals. They are also anti-aging and pro-immune system.
- Cauliflower is low calorie, low fat, full of fiber, vitamin C, protein, and is good for your skin and hair.
- Garlic is helpful if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels and it's also a great antioxidant. It's good for your heart, too — it can help regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Light butter has less fat than its full-fat counterpart. Many light versions also contain healthy fats — be sure to check the label to know for sure.
- Whole wheat flour contains more fiber than its white counterpart. It's also more helpful for regulating your blood sugar after a meal and contains folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B1, B3, and B5.
- Parmesan cheese is a lower fat cheese that also contains protein and calcium.
- Fat free milk is another great protein and calcium source, without all the extra fat.
- Adding lemon zest to any dish is a good way to get in extra flavor with zero calories, fat, or sodium. Lemon peels also contain calcium, vitamin C, and potassium.
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8 oz. high fiber pasta
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups cauliflower florets
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. light butter
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1.25 cups fat free milk
1 Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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