Regardless of whether I am dieting, maintaining, or in a building phase… this girl LOVES to eat! The more I get to eat, the happier my tummy is (and those around me)! The best way to accomplish eating more without a ton of extra calories is VOLUME eating as I like to call it! If given the choice between 1/4 serving OR up to 3X the amount of food, I will almost ALWAYS decide to eat MORE.
Pasta dishes are obviously extremely high in carbs and low in protein. To give a much better nutritional profile and balance to the dish and capitalize on ‘volume’, one of the best additions or substitutions you can make is zucchini noodles (zoodles/spiralized noodles).
Up until about a year ago, I would usually substitute zucchini noodles for regular pasta entirely (basically to eat 2 pieces of garlic bread instead LOL! Thank you flexible dieting!!!) or I would just add zucchini noodles to regular pasta which allowed me a bigger dish for similar macros (calories). However, once I discovered this little gem, my pasta dishes changed forever…
I mean really. Look at that nutritional label! Low fat, low carb, high fiber, and high protein! Its chewier than regular pasta and not as soggy as cooked zucchini noodles. It doesn’t taste ANYTHING like beans whatsoever. Just tastes like a truly al dente pasta! I would be perfectly happy eating them as is in any pasta type dishes, but combining the black bean pasta with zucchini noodles offers the perfect balance of textures. Sometimes I even add the three types of noodles together (black bean, zucchini, AND regular spaghetti).
So. Much. Food!!!! YES YES YES!!!!
A few weeks ago, I was watching Food Network and saw the Pioneer Woman making this dish for ‘chicken mozzarella pasta’. It looked like a great option for an easy weeknight dinner, but I knew I could make the nutritional balance MUCH better. And again, for any and all pasta dishes, zucchini noodles and/or black bean pasta are my go to ingredients. For this particular dish, I actually cooked my chicken a bit different than the original recipe as well. When you are tracking your macros, it’s extremely important to be as precise as you can when you weigh your food. Cooking the breasts whole just let me get an accurate ounce count for my protein. If I were making this dish for anyone else though, cooking diced chicken would be the best option! The recipe below shows this option! For shooting and my own eating purposes… whole was the way to go!
The day I made this, I had EVERY intention of eating this ENTIRE thing all by myself (using only one 4 oz chicken breast though). However, when I sat down to eat I was SO full half way through. I ended up eating the other half the following day for lunch. As you make the dish, you don’t think its going to end up quite so big, but in this instance… my eyes were MUCh bigger than what my stomach can handle (and that says A LOT)!!! I kept taking bites and I swear the amount f food was barely changing! Seemed to just go on an on and on! That’s my kind of dish!!!
Love love love the black bean pasta. It’s so hearty and filling!
This was my first time using fresh mozzarella cheese in a pasta dish… it won’t be my last! Oh my goodness!!!! I adore the entire dish, but every bite I got with a chunk of cheese in it? Gah. Amazing!!!! Why hadn’t I added it before??? Great nutritional profile and it’s delicious. Once added to the dish, the cheese gets so soft. It just melts in your mouth!
And basil is a MUST on anything I eat that includes marinara sauce!!!! The herb just gives it that bit of freshness and ‘pop’! It’s a very distinct flavor, but still subtle enough that it doesn’t over power anything else. Basil definitely goes hand in hand with ANY tomato based Italian dish!!!
Another favorite recipe for my weeknight arsenal! And because I know someone will ask what marinara sauce I use, I will go ahead and add the only one I ever use… my own!!! Both recipes can be found below!!!