Traditional (No Cream) Spaghetti Carbonara

... with brown rice pasta

Almost no-guilt spaghetti carbonara made the traditional way

Oh, how I love a plate of pasta! Oh, how my stomach doesn't!

I'm not coeliac, but I definitely notice that I'm somewhat more... unsettled after I've eaten regular wheat. Spelt flour foods have no effect on me, and I have my own theories about why I think spelt is better and quite acceptable in this new anti-wheat world we live in, but regular wheat definitely does seem to unsettle things a little bit. 

That works in my trainer's favour 'cause he's not too fond of us eating too many grains, especially wheat (although I'm still convinced that spelt should be in its own acceptable world). So, when it comes to a starchy carb, he advocates potato (sweet over regular), brown rice and the occasional helping of (gluten free) oats. 

That's all very good and well, but when you're somewhat more prone to cravings, it's hard to talk your id into doing the right thing by passing on the pasta. 

In my new venture into getting a more disciplined menu on my site (for my sake as well as for yours), this is the sort of recipe you'll be finding here. It's sensible, but it's also a decent meal that holds little to no guilt.

I mean, yes, building muscle is good. Being healthy is good. But being able to eat what appears to be a regular if not completely indulgent meal is good for the soul, and when your soul is happy, you are happy. 

So, what we have here is a meal my trainer would be more or less happy with. Decent protein and a starchy carb that's on his approved list; brown rice. 

Organic brown rice spaghetti makes this a good starchy-carb option

I'm not going to try convince you that brown rice pasta tastes just like regular pasta. It doesn't. It never will. It still tastes like brown rice. But, pasta is as much about the texture as it is about the flavour. If you look into the art that is marrying a pasta shape to a sauce, you'll find that there's a lot of thought put into it because a good plate of pasta is about almost every sense you have. Sight. Smell. Taste. Feel, which is, in this case, the texture of the food in your mouth. So, no, it won't taste like regular pasta, but you'll still get to enjoy the texture and the fun that is twirling the strands around your fork. Unless you're a heathen and you cut your spaghetti up with a knife and fork. Then I'm not talking to you and you can go and sit in the corner of shame with my husband.

For those of you who think I've performed magic by turning eggs into cream, sadly I cannot take the credit for it. Using cream in a carbonara is actually as offensive as cutting up your spaghetti, ask any Italian. The original and traditional way has always been to use eggs.

The trick to making a creamy sauce with egg comes down to two things. Low heat and starchy water. Instead of dumping the pasta into a colander to drain, you simply use tongs or a spaghetti server to dump the pasta straight into the pan, bringing with it a good amount of the water it was cooked in and which now is starchy, hence starchy water, and starches are natural thickeners. Once you've got everything in the pan, you add your egg (in this case, mixed with a bit of cheese) and cook it over low heat. That's when the magic happens. 

The egg and liquid mixes, and while you're cooking it over a very low heat, they almost create a sort of savoury custard which is creamy in texture and then coats each strand of spaghetti. It really is one of the coolest food reactions and I get a kick out of it every time I make it. And no, it does not taste of egg. It's rich and silky, just like cream, but no eggy flavour. 

Once you've topped everything off with a very generous grinding of black pepper, you've got yourself a plate of pasta that an Italian would approve of! Well, maybe not. They won't like the rice pasta, but they will definitely give you props for making carbonara sauce the right way.

Full disclosure, I have messed around with the ratios a little bit. I've halved the cheese 'cause of the fat content and added more meat to help with the protein. I did try add another egg, but it didn't work out quite the way I was hoping. Well, I ended up with a mostly creamy sauce and a little bit of scrambled egg bits, which doesn't bother me, but it doesn't look the best. If you don't care about the look and you're after higher protein, then try add another egg. Or, you could even bung in a scoop of plain whey or beef protein powder. 

So, this wouldn't be an every day meal for me as it's quite high in carbs, but I think it would be an acceptable craving buster on the odd occasion when you just want to dig into a plate of pasta and not feel bad about it. Even so, this recipe ticks a lot of boxes. Kinda Italian approved. Hopefully Trainer approved. Comfort food that's not at all "diet" in appearance or taste. And, it's also really easy to make. Win!


Traditional (Brown Rice) Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 1: Approx 495 cal
Macros Approx: 43g Carbs | 19g Fat | 35g Protein


60g Brown Rice Spaghetti
1 Egg
25g Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, grated
50g Pancetta or Bacon Lardons, noticeable fat trimmed
1 small clove Garlic, bruised
Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, drop in the "pasta" and leave to cook
  • Tip: Refer to the packaging for cooking duration, it will be between 8-10mins
  • While pasta is boiling, start on the sauce. Beat together the egg & cheese, set aside
  • Heat a medium sized dry non-stick pan on medium high heat, once hot, add the pancetta or bacon with the bruised clove of garlic and cook until meat is browned
  • Tip: If your meat was a bit on the fatty side, drain off the excess fat that has cooked out as you'll be getting fat from the cheese
  • Reduce heat to low, discard the garlic clove & keep meat warm while waiting for the pasta to finish cooking
  • Once pasta is ready, use tongs or a pasta spoon to transfer spaghetti into the pan
  • Tip: You want some of the pasta water to end up in the pan, it's what helps the sauce become creamy, so don't drain the pasta like you would normally!
  • Add the beaten egg & cheese mixture then gently toss the spaghetti to coat everything with the egg
  • Continue cooking on low while stirring around, & if sauce is looking too dry or thick, stir in about 2-5 Tbsp of the pasta water to thin out the sauce
  • Once sauce is looking creamy & "carbonara-like", season with plenty of black pepper
  • Serve immediately & enjoy!

Calories & Macros are rough estimates using MyFitnessPal, these numbers may vary depending on ingredient brands etc.
I am not a professional dietitian or in any way an expert on diet and health nutrition, these recipes are suited to my own personal eating plan and may or may not fit in with your own personal eating plan. 
Please check with your own personal trainer / coach / doctor / dietitian / etc. to see if these recipes are suitable to you.