Healthy Whole Grain Pasta for Diabetics

healthy whole grain pasta for diabetics

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One of my favorite things about chilly weather is warm comfort food, and this Healthy Whole Grain Pasta for Diabetics wins every time! This recipe takes delicious whole grain penne noodles and a quick and easy homemade meat sauce and transforms them into a super comforting meal that is actually helpful for stabilizing blood sugar levels. And it’s delicious!

Have you been told pasta is a big no-no for people with diabetes? When you prepare it with a balance of whole ingredients, pasta can be a part of a healthy meal for people living with diabetes. We’ll talk more about that below.

How to Make A HealthIER Whole WHEAT Pasta RECIPE

Yes, people with diabetes can eat pasta. While pasta is a high-carb food, it can be a safe food to eat when you use high-fiber pasta options and include lean proteins. And, as with anything, eat in moderation. Not all pastas are created equal, so choose wisely one with whole grains and a good amount of protein.

So let’s get started on our diabetes friendly comfort food!

1. Boil Water for the Pasta

To make Healthy Whole Grain Pasta for Diabetics, the first step is to put a large pot of water on the stove on high heat to boil. You’ll want to add a pinch of salt to the water, as this is your one chance to season the pasta itself.

Once your water is boiling, you can pour in the pasta, return to boil, and cook it according to the package directions. Be sure to stir occasionally.

2. Brown the Ground Turkey

While the water is coming to a boil, it’s time to brown the turkey in a large pan. For this recipe I like to use fairly lean ground turkey. Brown the turkey and break it up until completely cooked.

For this step, I use the one of my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets that I wouldn’t want to do without. My meat chopper.

meat chopper

Gone are the days of using a flat wooden spatula, standing over the meat, breaking it apart one chop at a time. Now we can make five chops at once! This seriously reduced my time standing over the meat in about half. Now I can chop several times, let it cook a bit, and come back and do some more.

A good friend introduced me to this kitchen gadget, and my meat browning days have never been the same.

To drain the meat, I want to capture the grease and not send it down my kitchen drain. So I have a bowl that my colander fits well on. I line the bowl with aluminum foil, and pour the meat into the colander sitting on top of the foil-lined bowl. And that’s how I collect the grease.

meat draining in a colander

After the grease has collected in the bottom bowl, I put that bowl in the fridge to harden the grease. (Then later that day or the next morning, I remove the foil and crumple up the top to seal in the hardened grease, and I throw it all away. No mess. Done!)

Now the strained ground turkey goes back into the original pan, and we can move on.

healthy whole grain pasta sauce

3. Make the Pasta Sauce

Once the meat is back in the pan, we can add the minced garlic and cook a minute or so — just until fragrant.

Add the tomato sauce, water, and all the spices. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring here and there. (Is that not the easiest pasta sauce ever?)

meat sauce for whole grain pasta for diabetics

Just before serving, pour the cream into the sauce and give it a good stir. Remove it from the heat.

4. Drain the PASTA Noodles

Once the noodles are cooked to your liking, around 10 minutes give or take, you will want to drain the water off.

In case you don’t have a self-straining pot for pasta, I would highly recommend one. You don’t have to dump the pasta from the pot into another colander to drain it (and dirty another dish to wash), so it’s super convenient. I use mine all the time!

5. Assemble the Whole Grain Pasta for Diabetics

Here you can use your own judgement — keep the noodles and sauce separate and serve up each one individually like I did, or pour the sauce over the noodles to combine everything together.

I will say that combining everything together and giving it a good stir would help in equal distribution of the pasta and sauce for when it comes to carb counting. Just a suggestion there. That’s likely what I will do next time.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

whole grain pasta for diabetics

Carbs for Healthy Whole Wheat Pasta for Diabetics

The carbs in a this whole grain pasta are certainly still there, even though we made the switch to whole grain to choose a healthier option over traditional pasta. The difference is pretty decent when it comes to the fiber. Check out this side-by-side comparison below. On the left is the traditional pasta, and on the right is the whole grain pasta I used.

Not only is there more fiber on the one on the right, there are also fewer calories, fewer grams of carbohydrates, and an extra gram of protein. I call that a win!

Nutrition Facts for penne pasta

In this particular recipe, we have most of our carbs in the noodles themselves. But another place we’re winning with this recipe is by using tomato sauce in place of canned pasta sauce. Many of the pasta sauces I checked have added sugars and more carbs than the straight tomato sauce. But we are seasoning this up with some great stuff, and that provides a flavorful taste without a need for added sugars.

With the specific brand of ingredients I used for this recipe, the entire total was 386g of carbs. With this recipe making 8 servings of pasta each, that’s 48g of carbs per serving.

Be sure to work this into your diet how you best manage your diabetes. And be sure to count the total carbs (or net carbs when dealing with fiber) in the specific products you use. Different brands vary in ingredients, so be doubly sure of the nutritional information in what you’re eating.

WHAT MAKES THIS PASTA DIABETIC FRIENDLY?

So the term “diabetic friendly” is considered differently by different people. We all have unique diets and preferences and ways to manage our diabetes. And although most people with type 2 diabetes limit carbs and sugar intake for a low carb lifestyle, some people with type 1 diabetes will tell you they can eat literally whatever they want as long as they dose for it. And I won’t say that’s not true.

For me, after living with type 1 for 30+ years, I consider something to be diabetic friendly if it is either:

  • a recipe that combines fiber, protein, and fat to help stabilize blood sugar levels to avoid a blood sugar spike
  • a more diabetes friendly alternative to the ingredients you would normally find in a traditional recipe

This recipe is both of those two options!

First, this healthy whole grain pasta for diabetics combines the fiber from the whole grains in the pasta, the protein from the ground turkey (and some from the pasta too), and the fat from the turkey and the cream to help stabilize blood sugar.

Also, we subbed three traditional ingredients for healthier options… whole grain pasta instead of traditional pasta noodles, ground turkey in place of beef, and tomato sauce with seasonings instead of canned pasta sauce.

baking and cooking

What to Serve with Healthy Whole Grain Pasta

This whole grain pasta recipe can be served with several other foods. Here are some ideas to get you started thinking:

  • caprese salad
  • lettuce salad with shredded tomatoes, mozzarella, and Italian dressing
  • a variety of roasted or grilled veggies
  • cauliflower crust cheesy breadsticks
  • sauteed zucchini rounds
  • a classic caesar salad

caesar salad

Why is this Recipe a Favorite of Mine?

If I were being fully transparent here, I would say that my husband and two kids all liked it! It’s honestly pretty rare in my house that all of us agree. Typically it’s two of them like it and one doesn’t. Not necessarily because of a recipe, but because “it’s green” or “I don’t like vegetables” or “I wanted macaroni” or something like that. (Those are my kids talking – not my husband!)

But another reason I love this recipe is that it’s pretty quick and easy, simple to make, and it boasts really good ingredients. This dish is very flavorful, the sauce is seasoned well, and it’s warm and comforting without a big blood sugar spike.

Make Ahead instructions

The meat sauce can definitely be made ahead on this recipe. It will store nicely in an air tight container for a few days if you like. (Just don’t put it in a white or clear plastic container. It will likely discolor the container because of the tomato base of the sauce.)

So if you’re looking to save time, that’s the make ahead option for this diabetic friendly whole grain pasta.

Storing for Later

If you’ve combined the pasta and sauce together, you’re good to store it like that in the fridge for a few days. If you’ve kept the pasta and sauce separate, just store the sauce in an air tight container and the pasta in another. But before you put the pasta in the fridge, drizzle a slight touch of olive oil on the noodles and gently toss them around. That will help keep the noodles from sticking together in the fridge.

Also, remember to choose a container that isn’t white or clear plastic, as the tomato-based sauce will likely discolor it. A glass bowl with cling wrap has always worked well for me!

And now for your free recipe:

healthy whole grain pasta for diabetics

Healthy Whole Grain Pasta for Diabetics

a healthier version of the typical pasta recipe, but still the same warm comfort food!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 4 c. whole grain penne pasta noodles
  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 c. tomato sauce
  • 1/2 c. water or more for desired consistency
  • 4 T. heavy cream

Seasonings

  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. basil
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta as directed.
  • While water is coming to a boil, brown the ground turkey in a large pan. Drain off the grease and return to the pan.
  • Add minced garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Do not burn garlic.
  • Add tomato sauce, water, and all seasonings to the pan. Simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  • Add heavy cream just before serving. Stir well, and remove from heat.
  • Drain the pasta when it is cooked to your liking.
  • Assemble pasta on a place or in a bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition Facts - Healthy Whole Grain Pastsa
Keyword easy, healthy, homemade

DID YOU MAKE this recipe?

If you’ve made this recipe, would you please leave a comment? I would love to hear from you!

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NOTE: I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician. Nothing here should be taken as professional medical advice. Any nutritional information provided should be used as a general guideline and estimate only. For the most accurate information, please calculate based on the specific ingredients and brands you use, as well as any changes you make to the recipe.

PIN FOR LATER

healthy whole grain pasta for diabetics

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COUNT CARBS and Nutrition Facts EASILY

Looking for a way to count your carbs, fat, fiber, and protein easily? Look no further… 

I love how this template makes counting nutrition facts SO easy. You literally list the total grams from each ingredient, total it at the bottom, and divide by the number of servings. Voila! 

This recipe template walks you through every step. And you can keep it for future reference. Just calculate it once and you’re done!

Check my Etsy store for an instant download that includes a cover page, section header pages for different kinds of recipes, section tabs, and this recipe template.

Diabetic Recipe Template with Carb Counting and Nutrition Facts

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Kaycee - Devotions on Diabetes

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