Carb-filled foods are hard to give up. For many of us, they act as comfort foods. This means we tend to lean towards them in seek of comfort such as gloomy weather, poor moods, bad breakups, stressful periods of time. You name it! When you need something to cling to, comfort food can often save the day.

While it is ultimately satisfying to eat a bowl full of carby pasta it definitely isn’t great for the waistline. Of course, in moderation guilty pleasure comfort foods should be enjoyed. However, whenever we’re presented with a stressful situation we really should reassess what we’re putting into our mouths. Whenever your carb cravings hit you’ll want to try out one of these lighter versions of your favorite pasta meals, you’ll hardly notice that they’re healthy!

1. Carrot Pasta

This carrot pasta is a delicious alternative to gnocchi. Gnocchi is traditionally made with potatoes and flour that when combined create a fluffy cloud-like pasta, they truly melt in your mouth. They do taste wonderful but they are often high in carbs.

This pasta will help you achieve the texture you love about gnocchi but with fewer carbs. This dish is also not served with any extravagant pasta sauce but is still filling and satisfying. Instead, these carrot gnocchi’s are sauteed in butter, garlic, and sage and then topped off with shredded parmesan and pepper. You can feel less guilty about wanting seconds. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: PURE WOW

2. Golden Sun-Dried Tomato Red Lentil Pasta

When you’re seeking healthier alternatives to your carb favorites, like pasta, you don’t always have to opt for a vegetable version. This recipe uses a pasta that is made up of red lentils which also happen to be gluten-free. The meal as a whole is overflowing with dietary fiber, healthy carbs, a lot of veggies and turmeric.

Turmeric can contribute a lot of health benefits but you’ll barely notice it’s there due to the powerful flavor of tomatoes. To read more about why you should have more turmeric, go HERE. This healthy pasta dish works out to be only 300 calories per serving. So you won’t have to worry about your dinner taking up a giant chunk of your daily recommended calories. This meal is packed full of powerhouse ingredients such as spinach, apple cider vinegar, turmeric and the red lentil pasta. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: HALF BAKED HARVEST

3. Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff was a classic dish that I often enjoyed as a child. It’s a family-friendly meal that almost everyone will love and you can make large quantities at once to feed a large family if needed. Unfortunately, when seeking healthy dinner options beef stroganoff doesn’t always come to mind. It is quite often made with butter, cream, canned soup and various other less healthy options.

This slightly healthier variation will guide you to a delicious beef stroganoff without remorse. This recipe remains dairy-free because instead of canned cream soup you’ll use cashews blended with broth and lemon juice. To keep this recipe gluten-free serve the beef stroganoff over a bed of brown rice or gluten-free pasta. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: MEANINGFUL EATS

4. Skinny Shrimp Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

Chicken parmesan is another classic pasta dish. It is often made with a breaded chicken breast that sits on a bed of pasta and marinara sauce. If that is your guilty pleasure food then you should give this healthier version a try. In this recipe, you will find many of the flavors and ingredients we love about chicken parmesan but in a more moderate and healthy way.

Instead of chicken, this recipe uses flavorful roasted shrimp. Spaghetti squash will take on the texture of traditional spaghetti noodles while making this whole meal a lot lower in calories. The spaghetti squash is tossed in a savory marinara sauce and then these spaghetti boats are topped off with gooey mozzarella cheese. Don’t forget the bread crumbs! Instead of breaded chicken, you’ll generously sprinkle whole wheat bread crumbs on top to achieve a crunchy toasted layer. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: BAKER BY NATURE

5. Creamy, Dairy-free Pumpkin Alfredo

Pasta covered in creamy sauces have always been one of my favorites, especially ones that include copious amounts of cheesy flavors. Now that I need dairy-free options finding a creamy pasta dish like my favorite has always deemed difficult. This recipe proves that you can achieve creamy pasta without a single ounce of dairy.

To begin, you’ll want to use a gluten-free brown rice pasta. Next, the secret ingredient into making this creamy sauce is pumpkin puree. That combined with nutritional yeast, for a cheesy flavor, and cornstarch to help thicken the sauce makes for the perfect dairy-free creamy and cheesy sauce. The best part is your kids won’t even notice they’re eating a healthy dinner! PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY

6. Zucchini Noodles With Creamy Avocado Pesto

If you don’t have a vegetable spiralizer then you’ll definitely want one after this recipe. There are so many spiralizers out there from handheld, to stand up versions but one thing remains the same. They are great tools to turn many vegetables into pasta alternatives.

This delightful dinner is gluten-free, dairy-free and made in under 20 minutes. A perfect weeknight dinner contender! The creamy sauce is made of avocados, fresh basil, olive oil and a few other flavorful ingredients. Once mixed together you’ll accomplish a comforting meal that you won’t even notice was made healthy and wholesome. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: EAT YOURSELF SKINNY

7. One-Pot Zoodles & Meatballs

Zoodles come to the rescue once again in the classic meal. Forget the spaghetti because you won’t need it here! This recipe takes traditional spaghetti and meatballs and puts a healthy spin on it.

You’ll want to use a veggie spiralizer again here and turn your zucchini into zoodles! This recipe is extremely easy. You can use pre-cooked store-bought meatballs or veggie balls, whichever you please. You’ll cook that first with a marinara sauce. Once your sauce is nice and thick the zoodles are added to make an easy one-pot, 30 -minute meal. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE KITCHN

8. Zucchini Lasagna

When I think about comforting pasta dishes lasagna always comes to mind. Many of us love lasagna for its rich sauce and cheesy layers. To help make lasagna a little healthier this recipe uses layers of zucchini slices instead of lasagna noodles.

To achieve thick evenly cut zucchini ribbons, you’ll want to use a mandolin slicer. This recipe also recommends grilling the zucchini slices first so help relieve excess water and prevent your lasagna from turning into a soggy mess. This lasagna still has layers of ground beef, ricotta cheese, savory sauce and melted cheese that the whole family will love. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: SKINNY TASTE

9. Eggplant Lasagna

If zucchini isn’t your favorite, you can still achieve a tasty veggie layered lasagna in many other ways. This eggplant lasagna takes the same approach as the zucchini lasagna but instead has tender layers of thick cut eggplant. This recipe is meat free but still full of the cheesy and sauce filled layers we love.

Like zucchini, eggplant too can make a lasagna watery if you don’t take the proper precautions. To prevent a soupy mess you’ll want to sprinkle coarse salt on the eggplant, let it sit then dab the excess water that surfaces. Finally, you’ll want to grill the eggplant slices prior to assembling the lasagna to reassure that there won’t be any unnecessary added water. This is another fun lasagna idea that is family-approved. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: PRIMAVERA KITCHEN

10. Dairy-free Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is another childhood favorite of mine. The flavors and textures simplicity is what I truly believe appeals to everyone of all ages. It is delicious, although pasta and cheese can’t be that great for us especially if it is requested several times a week on the regular.

This recipe is a healthier version of mac and cheese that you can feel good about feeding to your family. The recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free. The cheese sauce is made out of butternut squash, nutritional yeast, and coconut milk. Combine that cheesy sauce with a gluten-free pasta and you’ll have a healthy macaroni and cheese in no time. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: FORKLY

11. Eggplant Roll-Ups With Spinach And Ricotta

Another great way to enjoy the flavors of lasagna is in roll-up recipes. Once again we’re ditching the lasagna noodles and replacing them with a much lighter option, eggplant. This classic Italian combo mixes spinach and ricotta cheese and stuffs them in tender eggplant slices.

These eggplant roll-ups sit on a savory bed of homemade tomato sauce. To make them extra special and delicious they’re drizzled with more tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. These delightful roll-ups are baked until tender and golden and the whole family will gobble them up! PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: INSIDE THE RUSTIC KITCHEN

12. Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole

Casseroles make excellent meals to feed a whole family. There are so many casserole variations out there that the options really are endless. Leave the pasta and make this easy, healthy yet delicious cabbage roll casserole. Cabbage rolls often take a bit of effort in preparing but in this recipe, there isn’t any intensive work required. The only make-ahead work you’ll need to do is the browning of the meat. Then you can simply throw everything together in a casserole dish, stir together, then place in the oven.

To make this casserole wholesome and filling it uses cauliflower rice, this will also help it remain low-carb.  The cauliflower rice combined with ground beef, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and a few seasonings will all work together to make one delicious casserole. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: WHOLESOME YUM

13. Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Carbonara is a popular Italian pasta dish that is filling and savory. It’s often made by combining spaghetti pasta, or the like with a creamy sauce made with bacon, ham egg, and cream. This is another awesome meal that uses spaghetti squash and it’s glorious texture as a healthy substitute.

Once cooked, spaghetti squash strings just like spaghetti pasta and for this reason, it makes it the perfect veggie alternative. While the spaghetti squash roasts, you can prepare the creamy sauce. It is made up of egg, parmesan cheese, parsley and a bit of salt and pepper. By coating the spaghetti squash with the egg mixture and then lightly cooking it, will help achieve a creamy coating without resulting in a scrambled the eggs mess. PEACE LOVE AND LOW CARB

14. One-Pot Lemon Pasta With Greens & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

You’ll want to add this one-pot meal to your weeknight dinners rotation because it is so easy to throw together. This recipe is vegan-friendly and you can easily change out the pasta to make it gluten-free if you need. This recipe uses whole grain pasta as a healthier alternative.

The great thing about this recipe is that instead of cooking the pasta separately, this one-pot recipe allows you to cook everything together. This dish combines sun-dried tomatoes, nutrient-dense spinach and enough seasoning and lemon zest to make this dish flavorful with the perfect zing. At 274 calories per serving this guilt-free meal will certainly satisfy you. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: MAKING THYME FOR HEALTH

15. Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash

On average fettuccine noodles are about 200 calories per serving (1 cup). Combine that with a rich and creamy sauce and that is a fairly high caloric meal. This recipe allows you to enjoy the flavors you love about chicken fettucini alfredo but in a much healthier way.

This meal is about 299 calories per serving which can put your mind at ease. Once again spaghetti squash is the perfect pasta substitute. To save you a time you might want to consider cooking your spaghetti squash ahead of time. Afterall, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. As long as you have your spaghetti squashed pre-cooked this creamy meal will come together within 15 minutes. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE GUNNY SACK

16. Healthy Shrimp Scampi With Zucchini Noodles

When vegetables come into their prime time, aka summer, it is a great time to forget the pasta and opt for lighter, healthier and quite frankly nutrient-dense meals. This shrimp scampi will fulfill just that and definitely will not disappoint. If you don’t have a veggie spiralizer yet, the good news is many grocery stores have ready-made zoodles.

Shrimp scampi is another comfort food meal that is often made with pasta, lemon, garlic and copious amounts of butter. This recipe promises the flavors we love about shrimp scampi but without the pasta and a more balanced amount of everything else. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: WELL PLATED

17. Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

If hamburger helper makes a regular appearance on your dinner table then you’ll want to try this healthier interpretation. As a bonus, this recipe will take less than 20 minutes which means it isn’t any more effort than your average boxed variety.

At 366 calories per serving, you can feel good about feeding this comforting dish to your family. This recipe uses a gluten-free pasta and a from scratch savory sauce. This meal replicates a delicious cheeseburger into a healthy pasta dish that your kids will definitely enjoy. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: NOSHTASTIC

18. Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

This pasta dish is not only healthy but its vegan-friendly and gluten-free. This recipe combines tender gluten-free linguini noodles with a homemade roasted red pepper sauce. Its velvety consistency and sweet and savory flavor will encourage you to make this time and time again.

To begin the velvety sauce, you’ll want to roast red peppers until they become soft and charred. The roasted red peppers are what give the sauce the stunning orange color and its creamy texture. Cornstarch is what makes the creamy sauce nice and thick. While garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper are what give it a bold flavor. Homemade noodle dishes never looked so good! PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: MINIMALISTIC BAKER

19. Cheesy Quinoa And Sausage Broccoli Casserole

This recipe gives broccoli casserole a healthy transformation. Instead of rice or pasta, you’ll fine protein-rich quinoa. It also includes a generous dose of chicken sausage. You won’t find any creamy canned soups here because this cheesy sauce is completely homemade, yet easy enough that you won’t have to put your back out for it.

While the quinoa cooks you can get started sauteeing the veggies and sausage.  When they’re complete you’ll transfer them to a mixing bowl and start the homemade creamy sauce. All you’ll need is flour, butter, garlic, milk and chicken stock. After everything has been prepared you’ll mix it in a bowl then spread in a casserole dish. It is then completed by topping it off with shredded cheese and breadcrumbs. Once it is baked it’ll become a crispy golden and delicious meal that the whole family can dig into. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: THE CHUNKY CHEF

20. Creamy Roasted Garlic And Tomato Quinoa Penne

When we think of quinoa dishes we often think of the little round puffs that make up quinoa. However, quinoa can actually be made into a pasta like in this recipe. You can find boxed quinoa penne at many grocery stores that are part of the secret to making this recipe healthier than the average pasta dish.

While cooking the pasta you’ll want to prepare the yummy sauce. This luscious sauce is made from organic creamy tomato soup, greek yogurt, and milk. It’s a creamy comfort meal dream and everyone will thank you for it. PHOTOS AND RECIPE HERE: WENDY POLISI

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa loves experimenting with food of all cultures to make unique healthy dishes. When she’s not browsing Pinterest for new recipe inspiration she likes to pick up a DIY project and use her creative hands to make art or crafts. In her down time you can find her watching the latest documentaries on Netflix or going for nature walks.

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