A few days ago I saw a post on Instagram from @hayleys.world where she made a recipe for a Slimming World friendly Spicy Sausage Pasta. I’m still not 100% comfortable with Slimming World recipes as, from my knowledge, they aren’t calorie controlled and more based on syns. I don’t even know how syns are calculated! Her recipe looked amazing and made me really want to try it. I’m still in the early stages of my weight loss management and even though I don’t actively calorie count, I am still very aware of roughly how many I’m having a day. So, the good ole dusty wheels up in my noggin starting twirling on how to make this a low calorie meal. Not just low calorie either, but healthy and using good carbs. Lets face it, pasta dishes can be frightening in their own right because a lot of people see pasta as a dangerous high carb food. Indeed, it is high carb, however by making an educated swap you can lower the calories and make the carbs complex.
From the inspiration by Hayley, I came up with my Spicy Sausage Pasta bake. Each portion of this recipe comes in under 400 calories and a whopping 22g of protein. The fat content is low as well since there is no added fats (such as oils or butter) and is jam packed full of veggies. Now mind, being pasta, it does have 53g of carbs per serving. Before you freak out and close the browser, keep the following in mind. This recipe calls for wholewheat fusilli which instantly turns the carbs in the pasta from bad to good. Any wholewheat pasta will do, but I chose fusilli as it has a lower calorie count than your typical pasta bake staple, penne. You can check out my vlog about good carbs vs bad carbs and why it is good to eat them. This is one meal that feels extremely naughty but is actually good for you. This can be adapted to fit in with different weight plans such as Cambridge, Weight Watchers and Slimming World. Check the ingredients and quantities and adjust them accordingly to work best for you.
Spicy Sausage Pasta Bake – Serves 6
450g wholewheat fusilli
6 Heck Chicken Italia sausages, cooked and sliced
1 medium courgette, diced
200g baby button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 bell pepper (any colour), diced
red onion, finely diced
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 small chili, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
300ml low sodium chicken stock
80g grated light cheddar cheese
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cajun seasoning
Preheat oven to 200c and set aside a large baking dish. Cook the chicken sausages as per packaging instructions. I cook mine in the oven at 200c for 20 minutes so they are crispy on the outside. Set the sausages aside to cool. In a large saucepan, fill 3/4 with water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for around 7 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, spray a few squirts of frylight in a large frying pan on medium to high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and chili and cook for around 3 minutes or until it starts to soften.
Add to the courgette, mushrooms, sausages and dry seasonings to the pan. For the black pepper, season to your taste – though I am heavy handed with it. Continue to cook for a further 3 minutes.
Add chicken stock, chopped tomato, tomato puree and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes ensuring to stir occasionally so the contents don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You will want the sauce to thicken slightly, but keep in mind you want this to coat the pasta so don’t allow it to thicken too much.
Turn the heat off on the frying pan and gently fold in the baby spinach. continue to gently fold until the spinach is slightly wilted.
Transfer the cooked pasta and sausage mixture to the baking dish and fold together until well combined. Feel free to mix the pasta and sausage mixture in the frying pan if it is large enough, however I found it easier to mix in the baking dish.
Top the pasta mixture with sliced tomatoes and grated cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is crispy and brown.
Allow the pasta to sit for a few minutes before dishing up. You can enjoy this on its own or you could increase the veg and have a side salad along with it. If you don’t want your pasta bake too spicy, you can leave the chili out. Leave me a comment and let me know if you decided to give this a go or what you did to adjust it to fit your lifestyle!