Malcolm McDowell Woods

Simply Health

By - May 8th, 2010 12:55 pm
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A long-time friend of mine has been enamored with Fettuccine Alfredo for as long as I’ve known her. She’s very devoted to her Italian heritage and the great food that comes from that region of the world. She has always laughed at my attempts to make her Alfredo sauce healthier, but she wanted to lose a few pounds and her cholesterol was on the rise, so I put forth my best efforts to show her the words “healthy” and “Alfredo” can be used in the same sentence!

The original recipe for this dish was made up of just three ingredients – fettuccine, unsalted butter and Parmesan cheese — and that’s the recipe most Americans are familiar with. But we’ve quietly added heavy cream to attain that lovely, silky texture. The addition of the cream was instigated in 1920 by Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lello, who sought to whet the waning appetite of his pregnant wife. The rest is history!

To many, this modified recipe shouldn’t even be called an Alfredo sauce, but those who have tasted it in my cooking classes have deemed it a keeper — and I wholeheartedly (healthier-heartedly) agree! Does it taste as good? I guess that depends upon who tastes it. The flavors have changed — the mushrooms and garlic give this recipe a wonderful flavor that replaces the missing fat. The flavor seemed flat without the addition of the mushrooms and garlic. The addition of mushrooms and garlic also gives the recipe more nutrients. If you wanted to add another four grams of fiber, you could substitute whole grain pasta for the semolina pasta. I think it’s delicious and it feels good to know that it’s much healthier.

So, does Elise approve of this new Alfredo? She loves it and has made it for her family many times. But I’m no fool; I know that if she ever goes back to the classic recipe she’ll never tell me!

Elise’s recipe: Classic Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves four
8 ounces fettuccine pasta
1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish

  1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet at low heat. Add cream and mix well. After the butter is melted, remove it from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir well until sauce is well blended and smooth.
  3. After the fettuccine is cooked, drain it and add to your Alfredo sauce. Toss until well coated. Garnish with parsley leaves and extra Parmesan if you prefer.

Modified recipe: A Better Alfredo

Serves four
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

11/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Sauté the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside
  2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually mix in the flour to form a yellow paste (roux).
  3. Gradually add milk, whisking until incorporated and no lumps are present. Continue to whisk until hot, about 3 to 5 minutes. The longer you cook the base, the thicker the sauce will be. A thinner sauce requires a shorter cooking time.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese slowly, mixing well. Cook and stir until cheese is melted.
  5. Add the sautéed garlic and mushrooms. Remove from heat. Serve over hot pasta and sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

Calories have been cut in half. Total fat has been reduced by a whopping 46 grams. Sodium is reduced by 537 milligrams; almost a quarter of your day’s worth.
Original Recipe

  • 756 calories per serving
  • 55g total fat
  • 34g saturated fat
  • 45g carbohydrates
  • 819mg sodium
  • 21g protein
  • 1g fiber


  • 378 calories per serving
  • 9g total fat
  • 6g saturated fat
  • 50 g carbohydrates
  • 282mg sodium
  • 15g protein
  • 2g fiber
Categories: Uncategorized

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