The best weight loss programs involve making healthy substitutions for old-time favorites. We are a pasta loving country. Whether it’s spaghetti, fettuccini or penne it pairs well with sauce, usually a creamy variety, and is the ultimate comfort food. Macaroni and cheese is still a childhood staple that prevails into our budget-conscious college years. But, unless you opt for a whole wheat variety, pasta is not particularly nutritious and with our super-sized servings, a pasta dish can be a calorie bomb. The Olive Garden’s Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara weighs in at a hefty 1,590 calories.

One of the new healthy eating trends, partially fueled by the popularity of gluten-free diets, is to use vegetables to replace pasta noodles. Zucchini, spiralized or thinly-sliced, is the go-to stand-in. Be adventurous! Why not experiment with nutrition-packed carrots as a noodle substitute? They have a nice sweet flavor and now come in a variety of cool colors. We’re most familiar with their high Vitamin A content which is good for our vision. Eating deep orange-colored fruits and vegetables, like carrots, is also associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease and carrots are also a plentiful source of antioxidants which help prevent certain cancers, including prostate, lung, colon and leukemia.

Give this healthy recipe for low-calorie pasta a try:

Coastal Carrot ‘Fettuccini’

Ingredients (4 servings)
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered if large
• 2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
• 3 large rainbow or orange carrots
• 1 cup tomato sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted, for garnish

1. Heat oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and 2 Tbsp. basil; sauté until tomatoes burst and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Shave carrots into ribbons, using either a spiral slicer (aka spiralizer) or a vegetable peeler.

2. Add carrots, tomato sauce, paprika, salt, and pepper to skillet and cook until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 Tbsp. basil and garnish with pumpkin seeds before serving.

Nutrition (per serving)

• Calories: 114
• Fat per serving: 8g
• Fiber per serving: 3g
• Protein: 2g
• Carbohydrates: 11g

Click here for this best weight loss recipe.