If you thought you couldn’t eat pasta on the WW program, I have great news! You can!
With the right ingredients, you can make a delicious Chicken and Spinach Pasta Alfredo for just 5 WW FreeStyle Smart Points per serving! Even better news: this rich and creamy pasta recipe will be going into our next free WW friendly meal plan coming up this next Saturday!
My husband especially loved this recipe, and I think you will too.
About the pasta.
I have made a Low Smart Point bread/buns list and a Low Smart Point tortillas list, but I haven’t made a “Low Smart Points pasta” list. I mean, pasta is pasta. You can substitute pasta with zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash, and things like that, but most pasta in the grocery aisle is about the same. If you know of a low point pasta (or pasta substitute) please feel free to comment on this post and let us know about it. I would love to hear your ideas.
Regardless, I did find one pasta in my grocery store that tasted exactly like the other pasta, but was slightly lower in points. It’s Barilla Protein Plus Pasta. In particular, I chose to use penne pasta for this recipe.
I used 4 ounces of uncooked pasta for this recipe, so I will use it as my example:
- 4 ounces of uncooked traditional penne pasta is 12 WW FreeStyle SP (14 grams of protein)
- 4 ounces of uncooked Barilla Protein Plus Penne Pasta is 10 WW FreeStyle SP (20 grams of protein)
It’s just a 2 point difference as far as WW Smart Points go. Not a huge difference, but because the pasta has extra protein I thought it was worth mentioning.
About the chicken and spinach.
I used one full pound of chicken and five cups of spinach. I felt this was a good pasta/chicken/spinach ratio, but you can pack in as much, or as little, spinach and chicken as you like. You could also swap the chicken with shrimp or swap the spinach with broccoli. Make it your own!
About the sauce.
Most pasta Alfredo recipes are heavy on the sauce, using lots of butter and heavy cream, but this recipe uses just enough sauce made of healthier ingredients. By using skim milk, light cream cheese, and light butter, this sauce is not as heavy other Alfredo recipes, but it is just as creamy. The sauce is thickened with a little bit of flour and some Parmesan cheese. You’d be surprised how little flour you need to get the job done. I found that one tablespoon of flour was enough.
Alrighty, enough chit-chat about the ingredients… let’s just get to this tasty recipe!
Here is what you need:
4 ounces Barilla Protein Plus penne pasta
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups fresh baby spinach
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 tablespoon light butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup fat-free skim milk
2 tablespoons light cream cheese
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons fresh snipped parsley, optional
Here is what you do:
Cook the penne pasta, according to the directions on the package and drain pasta.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic and spinach and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Transfer spinach to a medium sized bowl.
Spray skillet you used to cook spinach with cooking spray. Add chicken to the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook chicken 6-7 minutes, or until fully cooked, mixing occasionally. Transfer chicken to the bowl with the spinach and set aside.
Melt butter in the skillet and mix in flour.
Add milk and cook, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until the milk thickens.
Add cream cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and cook, whisking constantly, 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
Add drained pasta, chicken, and spinach to the sauce and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, allowing all of the ingredients to mix well and the sauce to thicken one last time. Salt and pepper, to taste.
Sprinkle with parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Serves: 5 servings.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 264
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 21 g
- Sugar: 4 g
- Sodium: 395 mg
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 27 g
- Cholesterol: 55 mg
- 4 ounces Barilla Protein Plus penne pasta
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups fresh baby spinach
- Cooking spray
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 tablespoon light butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup fat-free skim milk
- 2 tablespoons light cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh snipped parsley, optional
- Cook penne pasta, according to the directions on the package and drain the pasta.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic and spinach and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Transfer spinach to a medium sized bowl.
- Spray the skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt. Cook chicken 6-7 minutes, or until fully cooked, mixing occasionally. Transfer chicken to the bowl with the spinach, and set aside.
- Melt butter in the skillet and mix flour in with the melted butter.
- Add milk and cook, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until the milk thickens.
- Add cream cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and cook, whisking constantly, 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
- Add drained pasta, chicken, and spinach to the sauce and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, allowing all of the ingredients to mix well and the sauce to thicken one last time. Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Sprinkle with parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Looking for more delicious WW friendly pasta dishes?
Here are links to my top three favorite MPM pasta recipes right now:
- Beefy Penne Pasta – 6 WW SP
- Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese Over Pasta – 5 WW SP
- Bruschetta Pasta Salad – 6 WW SP
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
*SmartPoints® calculated by Meal Planning Mommies; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated without Weight Watchers Zero Points fruits and vegetables using the WW Recipe Builder.