Ah, pasta. Now we can get along a little better though. Used to be my meat-and-potatoes husband would only eat alfredo sauce. Which is about the most fattening thing you can eat. Cheese and cream on pasta! I'm not a huge fan, personally, but a lot of people love alfredo! The difficulty here was that my husband HATED marinara. I remember a time when I would cook pasta and then offer two sauces, since we couldn't agree. His weight gain has forced him to learn to like marinara, hahaha, because it's a fraction of the calories. That plus the addition of several veggies in the sauce makes it a much lower calorie option now.
Since I'm a mediocre cook (I wish I was one of those chef-supreme women I follow on the internet, but I'm not...) I usually start with a store-bought pasta sauce. Husband likes arrabbiata sauce the best, which is what I usually buy. There's a lot of research out there that suggests spicy food is better for weight loss and husband and I love spicy! Try to get a low calorie sauce, some of them can get up to 120 calories a half-cup. Yikes!
I put the sauce in a pan to heat up and I always add a can or two of straight, nothing added, no sodium, tomato sauce. Why? A lot of store-bought sauces have sooo much sugar! Some have more sugar than a bowl of frosted cereal, which makes me think pasta sauce should be eaten with milk. The extra tomato sauce thins out the sugar.
Here's an interesting factoid I read: In the hunter and gatherer days the average person ate 4lbs of sugar a year. Modern Americans eat on average over 100lbs a year now. That's 25 times as much. Goodness! I like to blame my weight gain on that and not on my eating too much....
Back to pasta: I then add a chopped zucchini and several sliced mushrooms to my sauce. I let them boil in the sauce to get tender. I don't saute them because that adds extra oil calories that can be avoided. (Please excuse the awful photo...)
My mushrooms were starting to get kinda old and wrinkled. I also add lots of garlic and fresh herbs. I grow my own herbs in pots on my patio. I'm not a very good gardener but for some reason the basil sprouted up in almost every pot, there is so much of it! Fresh herbs make a huge improvement in the flavor. Just tear 'em and toss 'em in. I like to add lots of red pepper flake to ramp up the bite.
I also steam some cauliflower to add into the pasta. Shell pasta is a good choice and the cauliflower makes a super low calorie addition. After it was all done one serving of pasta with a cup of cauliflower and half the sauce was 470 calories. That was for a huge bowl! Not bad for pasta.
Now for a tangent:
I don't know about you, but I often worry about foods that claim "now better tasting!". It makes me concerned about the original situation. I saw this on a bad of dog food: