This 30-minute Healthy Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli is only 300 calories per serving. Read on to find out the seven tricks I used to make this comfort food classic healthier!
When I think of Pasta with Alfredo sauce, the first thing that comes to mind is a far cry from this Healthy Chicken Alfredo. I think of when I cooked at Isabel’s making Primavera Alfredo. We served Primavera Alfredo for lunch with lots of garlic and some veggies, sauced in reduced heavy cream. One serving was made by sautéing the garlic and veggies in oil then adding a cup of cream and reducing in the skillet until it was thick enough to coat the pasta. The sauce was finished with a generous fistful of Asiago cheese.
I know you’re thinking, sounds gut busting and nap inducing. I mean, sure the technique is simple and the resulting sauce was magnificently cheesy and rich, but I can’t even think of how many calories the dish weighed in at!
This fall, one of my top priorities was to figure out a way to add an Alfredo to my line-up of comfort food makeovers. But, how could I make an Alfredo that didn’t break the calorie bank and still was easy and satisfying?
Making a Yummy But Healthy Chicken Alfredo Pasta
When I set out to make a light pasta Alfredo here on the blog, I knew I needed to bulk it up with some seasonal vegetables. Broccoli was the first vegetable that came to mind because it’s in season from late summer through the colder months, because it is a good cold storage vegetable. Plus, broccoli is so good with garlic and cheese and creamy sauce. I just love the way the sauce and garlic gets absorbed into the florets.
Next I added in chicken for some lean protein, and to move the meal out of the carbo bomb zone, and into the realm of balanced meal. One pound for 4 people equals about 4 ounces of cooked meat per serving. Perfect. Each serving has 29 grams of protein.
Then for the pasta, I used whole-wheat and I cut back on the serving size a bit so that we could save on calories, and let the less calorie dense broccoli take over filling out the bowl.
Next comes figuring out how to make the Alfredo sauce without using a lot of oil, a cup of heavy cream and a load of cheese per person. I knew I had my work cut out for me! What I ended up doing is using a combination of flavorful chicken broth, which is low in calories, non-fat milk and only 1/4 cup half and half for 6 servings. To thicken it and make it creamy I used all-purpose flour. First I tossed the chicken in the flour before I browned it. And I also used the remaining flour that was left behind to thicken the sauce. It thickened beautifully!
Next came adding cheese. I went for Parmigiano Reggiano—just 1 cup for 6 servings. I boosted the cheesiness and flavor by adding in Dijon mustard and a hit of fresh thyme which have basically no calories.
The resulting Healthy Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli takes only 30 minutes start to finish, and is only 300 calories per serving!!
How to Make Healthy Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli
- Bulk the serving size up with vegetables which are less calorie dense than pasta and sauce.
- Use lean protein to balance the macronutrients.
- Use whole-grain pasta instead of refined carbohydrate for added fiber and lower glycemic carbohydrates.
- Use less oil to sauté.
- Swap a combination of chicken broth, non-fat milk and only a little half-and-half for the sauce.
- Thicken the sauce with all-purpose flour.
- Use less cheese, but add in flavor with Dijon and thyme.
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This 30-minute Healthy Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli is only 300 calories per serving, making it a delicious, kid-friendly weeknight dinner!
- 2 ½ cups uncooked pasta, preferably whole-wheat (6.8 ounces)
- 4 cups chopped raw broccoli
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized cubes (1 pound)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper or to taste
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2/3 cup non-fat or low-fat milk
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- 1 ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta 3 minutes less than time according to package instructions. Add broccoli and continue cooking for the remaining 3 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, toss chicken with flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, leaving excess flour in the bowl. Cook chicken, stirring occasionally, until browned on one or two sides, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm (it will continue cooking in step 4).
- Wipe out skillet with a clean paper towel. Reduce heat to medium.
- Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the skillet. Add garlic, and cook stirring until fragrant, 30 to 90 seconds. Stir in the chicken and any juice from the plate.
- Dust on the remaining flour from the bowl, and stir to combine. Add broth and stir until the flour is incorporated. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer stirring often. Add milk, half and half, Dijon and thyme and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 cup Parmesan. Stir until the sauce is smooth. Add pasta and broccoli, and stir until combined. Serve topped with additional Parmesan.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 300
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 550 mg
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated Fat: 4 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 30 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 29 g
- Cholesterol: 56 mg
Keywords: healthy chicken alfredo