a quick way to add protein to your pasta

Ricotta penne pasta with veggies3

Ricotta penne pasta with veggies4

Ricotta penne pasta with veggies5

Ricotta penne pasta with veggies2

You all know I love my pasta. Like seriously love a bowl of refined carbs. But you know what? After a long day, sometimes it just hits the spot and I’m perfectly okay with that. The only downfall is that pasta alone has little protein or fat and, if we’re talking about the white variety, little to no fiber. The abundance of carbs and not much else basically means I can single-handedly eat two-thirds of a box and just barely feel satisfied.

Hey, sometimes that happens. But by adding just a couple of things to that jar of sauce in the pantry, a bowl of refined carbs can easily be transformed into a satisfying and nutritious meal. Part-skim ricotta is my favorite protein-packed cheese for pasta sauce. Just one cup has about 24 grams of protein and stirs in with almost no effort, adding a bit of creaminess and gourmet feel to a rather unsexy jar of sauce. Want to take it a step farther? Sauté whatever random veggies you have hanging out in the fridge and add those to the pot for extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. I find when I add these two things to my sauce, I feel more satisfied and actually eat less of those refined carbs.

Got any quick tricks for adding protein to your pasta?

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  • Ricotta is a good idea for protein! I’m a pasta lover too… to the point where I don’t even feel guilty for eating it multiple times a week. I try not to eat it without vegetables, though! And I try to sub in brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta instead of the regular white kind. It’s all about the deals you make with yourself :)

  • I always bulk up my sauce with spinach and grilled chicken pieces. Never thought about ricotta, this sounds wonderful.

  • Great idea! I will often stir in cream cheese when making a pasta sauce, but that doesn’t have near as much protein. I’ll definitely give this a try!

    • I discovered sprouted whole wheat bread the other week – l.o.v.e. the flavor and texture. Will keep my eyes out for sprouted whole grain pasta now!

  • I’ve been adding ricotta to spinach salads and it’s absolutely delicious…looks kind of gross though! I love adding whatever leftover veggies I have in the fridge to pasta with a bit of garlic and oil.

  • Great tip! I usually just reserve ricotta for lasagna/roll ups but it’s a no brainer for a protein bump. I’m going to stick it on the grocery list! I like to bump up protein in my pasta with a little cheese and chicken for a nice chicken parm vibe. Yum! Okay, lunchtime…can’t take it anymore! :)