Recipe Revamping: Carbonara

“It’s just that it was one of his favorites….”

Most folks ask me to revamp baked recipes since that is what I mostly post about, but I received a request this week from a mom after she saw my roasted garlic bread recipe, asking if I might help with one of her son’s favorite recipes, carbonara. Her son is eight, and the family recently learned that much of his stomach issues were due to eggs, dairy and wheat, all three of which are in carbonara.

For anyone who might not be familiar with carbonara, it is an Italian pasta dish which is essentially a creamy, cheesy sauce over noodles which tends to use cured meat products such as bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, or Italian sausage to flavor the sauce. To make the sauce creamy, recipes usually use cream or half and half and egg yolks with a variety of fancy cheeses and then adds the cured meat and white pasta to the dish. So, as a rule, even if you do not have food allergies, you probably should not make carbonara a regular part of your diet.

Unless, of course, you can find a way to create a healthier, allergy friendly version….

My first order of business was to tackle the cheesy sauce. The beauty of a carbonara sauce is that it clings to the noodles, so the sauce needs to be a thick, heavy sauce, which is why usually cream and egg yolks are utilized. I opted to make a basic white sauce with olive oil, millet flour and dairy free milk. To that I added Daiya cheddar cheese, garlic, onions, oregano, basil, and a tiny bit of red pepper.

The next item to tackle was the cured meat. To make it a tiny bit healthier, I chose to chop just four low fat, reduced salt, no nitrates, sweet Italian style fully cooked chicken sausage links into small pieces. This distributed the flavor without all the extra added fat and sodium and nitrates.

The final decision I made was to nix pasta altogether and use spiral cut veggies. I used a mixture of turnips, yellow squash and zucchini. Because I like my food to have lots of color, I also added diced petite tomatoes, which added a slight flavor twist to the whole dish. The result was quite yummy!

Vegetable “Noodle” Carbonara

(This recipe makes a lot because I wanted to feed a family of five and have leftovers for a second meal. You may want to halve the recipe.)


2 tbsp extra light olive oil (you don’t want a heavy taste)

1/4 cup millet flour (or any other variety you’d like to use)

2 cups dairy free “milk” (I used soy but any variety will work)

8 oz shredded Daiya cheddar cheese

garlic, onions, oregano, basil, and red pepper (to your taste and liking)

16 oz each spiral cut turnip, yellow squash, and zucchini (you can change up the spiral cut noodle veggies as long as you have 48 oz total so the sauce and “noodle” amounts are in a good sauce to noodle clinging ratio)

4 low fat, reduced salt, no nitrates sweet Italian style fully cooked chicken sausage links

garlic, onions, oregano, basil, and red pepper (to your taste and liking)

14 oz can of no salt, no sugar added petite diced tomatoes (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a shallow sauce pan, heat the olive oil for a minute over medium-low heat, and then stir in the millet flour until well mixed and cook for another 30 seconds.
  2. Slowly add one cup of the milk, stirring until the flour mixture is incorporated into the milk. Let the mixture begin to thicken. Time will vary, depending on how shallow your pan is but shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
  3. Slowly add the second cup of milk, stirring to evenly mix the sauce.
  4. Add the Daiya cheese and stir well. Add the spices, and stir until the cheese is all melted, and turn the heat to low, stirring occasionally.
  5. In a larger shallow nonstick pan (if you aren’t using a nonstick pan, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil), cook the turnips until softened, usually about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Dice the sausage links into small bits and add to the turnips. Mix well and cook for a minute.
  7. Add the yellow squash and zucchini with the spices, and cook just until the squash and zucchini begin to soften.
  8. If you are using the tomatoes, add the diced tomatoes to the cheese sauce and stir well. Then add the sauce to the veggie noodles, mix well and serve. (As a garnish, you may sprinkle a mixture of fresh basil and chopped garlic as I did in the picture.)
  9. If you are not using the tomatoes, simply add the cheese sauce to the veggie noodles, mix well, and serve.




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