Love Your Heart: Light Fettuccine Alfredo


Another week in February and another recipe you can make to love your heart…and what you eat! Because really and truly, you should love what you eat. Perhaps you will love one of these recipes, too:

Today’s recipe isn’t the absolute lowest in calories or fat, but it’s a perfect example of a much scaled down version of one of America’s favorite guilty pleasures: Fettuccine Alfredo. Loving your heart doesn’t mean having to sacrifice taste…or your favorite foods.

Making a lighter version at home, however, can save you nearly a day’s worth of fat, two day’s worth of saturated fat, and whole lot of calories. That is certainly something for your heart to love!


You can love what you eat and still feel good about it, too? Indeed!

If that’s not convincing enough, how about a recipe that takes less than 30 minutes from start-to-finish? Yes, even for the novice at-home chef. This recipe, it’s calling your name. It may even be saying, “I’m better Olive Garden…no, really. And way better for you, too!”

So true. So true.

fettuccinealfredo2Here’s a run down on a few heart-healthy tips you can apply to your at-home cooking.

  1. Butter vs. margarine. Choose butter (unsalted). Margarine is hydrogenated vegetable oil, or in other words, a liquid vegetable oil turned into a solid. This process is possible through hydrogenation which add trans fat to foods. Trans fat is doubly dangerous to the heart because it not only raises “bad” LDL cholesterol, but it also lowers “good” HDL cholesterol. Limiting or omitting trans fats is one of the best things you can change in your diet to keep your heart healthy.
  2. Low-fat dairy. Choosing low-fat dairy products, such as milk, helps to decrease saturated fat in the diet. Similar to trans fats, saturated fat can cause an unfavorable rise in LDL cholesterol levels. With all milk being fortified with vitamins A and D, there’s no reason not to choose a low-fat variety.
  3. Be weary of fat-free foods. While low-fat options generally offer up a lighter version of its full-fat counterpart, fat-free products are often high in salt and sugar to help improve flavor and make products more palatable. Be sure to compare products for not only calories and fat, but also for sodium, sugar, and a plethora of other additives and preservatives that are used in food manufacturing.
  4. Remember to control portions. Though lightened up versions of your favorite foods are preferred, over-eating is never recommended. Keeping your heart healthy can be as simple as controlling intake to avoid over-consumption of fats and calories. Pair your meals with a healthy vegetable side to increase volume, add nutrition, and keep calorie counts in check.


I paired my Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo with a garden salad dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My dinner came in right at 500 calories and offered up a balanced meal with added fiber and nutrition.

My only regret was that Mr. Prevention wasn’t at home to enjoy this meal with me. I will have to make it again soon…it was WAY too good and WAY too easy not to!


Light Fettuccine Alfredo adapted from Cooking Light and That Skinny Chick Can Bake

1 Tbsp unsalted butter 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour 1 1/3 cups 1% low-fat milk 3/4 cup (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, finely shredded 2 oz 1/3 less-fat cream cheese 1/4 tsp salt 8 oz dry fettuccine 2 tsp flat leaf parsley, chopped Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Boil 3-4 quarts of water in a large pot. Add fettuccine and cool until al dente.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook just till fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Whisk in flour, then gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly till mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Add the Parmesan, cream cheese, and salt, stirring till cheese melts.

Add hot, drained pasta and toss to distribute. Serve with a sprinkle of the parsley and black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (1 heaping cup each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 388 calories; 13.5 g. fat; 32 mg. cholesterol; 379 mg. sodium; 2 g. fiber; 17.8 g. protein

Result: Low-fat dairy and high quality Parmesan couldn’t have come up with anything better – truly wonderful. Creamy and rich…you won’t believe for a second that this is a lightened up version. But put away the gobs of butter, and all that heavy cream…you won’t be needing it! Enjoy!


Be sure to head on over to Lauren’s blog, Healthy Food for Living, for your chance to win a copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker and wild salmon from Pure Alaska Salmon!

Be well,


  1. says

    I was just talking to my friend Mon about how sad it is that I haven’t had alfredo sauce in YEARS. It’s one of those things I just deemed as “bad” and can’t get past it. Weird, considering I’ll eat other cream-filled things like cheesecake or ice cream or ranch or things of that nature…

    And yes- I am so crazy about butter over margarine. My parents won’t convert, though. They don’t believe me!

  2. says

    Oh, yum. Looks fantastic. Wish I had understood the philosophy of eating well, in smaller portions to avoid guilt earlier in life! Until recently, I had a whole mantra of foods falling into black-and-white categories of “good” and “bad.” Every time I ate something I deemed “bad,” I’d feel guilty and couldn’t even enjoy it. I’ve recently come to understand that I CAN eat foods that taste delicious and rich as long as I control the portion and eat a healthy side of veggies. I enjoy food so much more these days! Glad to see that you share the same philosophy. I enjoy your blog so much!

    • Nicole, RD says

      Andrea: So sweet — thank you! That balance is so important — I learned it much later in life, too…and still struggle at times! But it’s great to have that “ah-ha!” moment with portions :) Thanks for reading!

  3. says

    Fettuccine alfredo may be one of my favorite things ever. Its just so good.

    In my family, it has always been butter over margarine. My mom is always buying diet crap, and when she buys margarine, and has the audacity to feed it to my father he gets pretty choked. “Dont buy that crap! Eat the real stuff, I don’t care if its fattening, its better for you!” He even questions her before he will ever take anything from the butter dish. :)

  4. says

    I made this for dinner tonight, and I have to say, it hits all the points I love about Alfredo. I tend to crave rich, carb-y things when I get stressed, so I will have to keep this in mind, so I don’t blow it! Thank you so much for the recipe! I’m new to this site, but really liking what I see!

  5. says

    I am not much for Fettucine Alfredo, but my dad adores it. He also needs to watch his weight a little .. which means I kind of have to make this for him.

  6. Jennifer says

    I made this the other night and it’s going to be a staple recipe in my house from now on. It was that delicious. Thank you for sharing! (=

    And I love that you post nutrition facts. Thank you for doing so!

  7. Alfredo e Ines Di Lelio says

    HISTORY OF FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO AND OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” With reference to “fettuccine all’Alfredo” we have the pleasure to tell you the history of our grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, creator of this recipe in the world known. Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in Rome nel 1914, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina Rose Square (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). In this local spread the fame, first to Rome and then in the world, of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio gave the local to his collaborators. In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando (Alfredo II) his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo”, which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo (same name of grandfather) and Ines (the same name of his grandmother, wife of Alfredo Di Lelio, who were dedicated to the noodles). In conclusion, the local Piazza Augusto Imperatore is following the family tradition of Alfredo Di Lelio and his notes noodles (see also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo” Best regards Alfredo e Ines Di Lelio

  8. Amber Carroll says

    As far as alfredo recipes go, this one is really bland. But, really, what can you expect from a recipe with low-fat ingredients and a small amount of butter? I probably won’t make it again because alfredo is one of my favorite dishes and I don’t like to eat what I would consider sub-par. However, if yo absolutely can’t have lots or butter or really want a decent, low-fat, low-calorie pasta dish, this one is OK. On the plus side, it is super fast. I threw this dish thogether in less than 30 minutes.

    • Nicole, RD says

      Hi Amber! Thanks for your feedback! There’s definitely no comparing low-fat to heavy cream and butter, so I think your comparison is very fair. It doesn’t taste like the real deal, but it’s certainly much healthier and acceptable every-day than the original :) Cheers!

  9. Melissa says

    I was looking for a lighter fettuccine Alfredo and was ecstatic to find this! Best of all I had all ingredients on hand already. It s delicious! I absolutely loved it!

    • Nicole, RD says

      Thanks, Melissa! I’ve tried a lot of variations of “light” fettuccine…I must say, this is my favorite :)


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