What To Order: The 5 Healthiest Restaurant Pasta Dinners

Pasta is a popular choice for diners, but sensible restaurant pasta dishes are hard to come by. We scanned restaurant menus to find some reasonable choices.
restaurant menu


finger on a menu

Photo by: Kai Koehler ©photo-poster

Kai Koehler, photo-poster

Pasta is a popular choice for diners, but unfortunately sensible restaurant pasta dishes are hard to come by. We scanned popular restaurant menus to find some reasonable choices.

Pasta Problem

Most restaurants offer enormous mounds of pasta weighed down with high-fat sauces. We were able to spot a couple of smarter options; a few even came with lean protein and whole grains. Sodium will always be an issue when dining out. While these dishes were in no way “low sodium,” they were among the lowest in salt.

Nutrition Info: 430 calories; 6 grams fat (1 saturated); 900 milligrams sodium

Simple is best at this popular pasta joint; enjoy with a salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.

Nutrition Info: 440 calories; 15 grams fat (6 saturated); 960 milligrams sodium

Whole grain penne, seasonal veggies and white beans in a tomato curry sauce. Adding beans to pasta is a delightful way to make the dish more satisfying.

Nutrition Info: 860 calories; 9 grams saturated fat* 1340 milligrams sodium (*total fat not available)

Complete with roasted chicken and broccolini, this pasta entrée is large enough for two meals – take a doggy bag home for tomorrow’s lunch. Bonus tip: Ask the server to hold some of the cheese to cut back on some of that sodium.

Nutrition Info: 640 calories; 29 grams fat (14 saturated); 1730 milligrams sodium

Protein-rich seafood to will help you gobble less pasta. While this dish does come with a cream sauce, it’s impressive to see such a decedent entrée with less than 650 calories.

Nutrition Info: 820 calories; 35 grams fat (7 saturated); 1370 milligrams sodium

Another good option for dinner tonight and then lunch tomorrow. The portion is a bit too large but the ingredients here are good eats: whole grain pasta, tomatoes, garlic and grilled chicken. The low saturated fat indicates that much of the fat in this pasta dish comes from heart-healthy sources.

Tell Us: What’s your favorite restaurant pasta dish?

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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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