fettuccine alfredo

I am healthy. I am not perfect. But I am thin. I am fit. And I’m tired of holding myself up to an impossible standard.

I eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than anyone I know. I exercise regularly. I don’t drink alcohol on weekdays. My lifestyle now is healthier than has it ever been.

And yet it is not enough. Not enough to feel confident in a bathing suit, not enough to lose this bit of pudge around my belly, maybe not enough to balance my slowing metabolism.

I’ve spent most of my life convinced I should exercise harder or more intensely, I should eat as healthy on weekends as I do on weekdays, I shouldn’t eat until I’m overfull. I should be perfect, or at least perfecter than I am now.

It will never happen. It isn’t worth it to me. I won’t give up baking or the batter-eating that accompanies it, I won’t give up sharing a bottle of champagne with Dave on Sunday afternoons, I won’t give up the too many hobbies that keep me from longer workouts, I won’t give up eating sushi rolls until I nearly burst, I won’t give up pasta, I won’t give up butter, I won’t give up cream.

Instead, I will give up bikinis. I will give up pants that don’t quite fit. I will give up guilt. I will not eat differently than I do now, but I will stop believing I should.

I am healthy. I am thin. I am fit. And I can eat pasta coated in cream and still be all of those things. I will never give up pasta and cream, but I will give up feeling bad about myself for eating it.

One year ago: Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
Two years ago: Crispy Bagel Roll
Three years ago: Fish Tacos

Printer Friendly Recipe
Fettuccine Alfredo
(from Cooks Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe)

6 appetizer servings

I’ve reproduced Cooks Illustrated’s recipe exactly below. But, in step 1, I found I needed to heat the cream-butter mixture over higher heat (medium-low to medium) for the cream to simmer.

To heat the bowls, either put them in a warm oven for a few minutes or ladle some of the hot pasta water into the bowls; leave the water in the bowl while you mix the pasta and sauce.

1⅔ cups heavy cream, preferably not ultrapasteurized
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 recipe fresh egg pasta, cut into fettuccine (below)
2 ounces (1 cup) parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Ground black pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1. Bring 4 quarters water to a rolling boil in a large pot.

2. Combine 1⅓ cups of the cream and the butter in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the cooked pasta. Heat over low heat until the butter is melted and the cream comes to a bare simmer. Turn off the heat and set aside.

3. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until almost al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan. Add the remaining ⅓ cup cream, the parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and the nutmeg. Cook over very low heat until the sauce is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the fettuccine immediately in heated pasta bowls.

Fresh Egg Pasta (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

You can mix this in the food processor, but for me, it’s easier to mix two ingredients by hand than it is to wash the food processor (even in the dishwasher).

You can also use store-bought pasta dough instead of making your own. You’ll need a pound for the amount of sauce in the alfredo recipe.

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 eggs

1. Measure out the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Use a fork to break up the eggs slightly. Use a rubber spatula to mix the eggs into the flour until the dough is smooth. If it’s sticky, knead in more flour. If it’s too dry to mix in all the flour, knead in water ½ teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together.

2. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Spread dry kitchen towels under the pasta roller and over the counter. Set the pasta machine at its widest opening. Working with one portion of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, roll the dough through the pasta roller. Fold it in thirds like a letter and roll it through the wide setting again. Repeat four more times, adding flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the machine.


  1. Amen!!! You are my hero. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  2. great post! I heard someone much wiser say one time, “if i have to do strenuous exercise 3 hours a day and can only eat no-fat/no-carb/no-cal food to keep up my weight, then it isn’t the right weight for me!” and how true is that!! I myself am not overweight, but I’m not on the skinny side of the spectrum either. And I can be happy with that because even if i can’t prance around in a bikini, overall i’m happy and healthy, I’m living a lifestyle that I enjoy, PLUS I still get to eat yummy things from time to time like fettuccine alfredo 🙂

  3. Thanks for the declaration against food guilt! Life is so much more enjoyable when we’re not feeling bad all the time about what we’re eating and how we look.

  4. I just love love love your words – you are so right. If we always try to be better or to be perfect we will never be happy. And that’s definitely not worth it.

  5. Sarah says:

    I’ve never commented before, but your post moved me. I wish I could do the same, and stop feeling guilty about other things in my life.

  6. This makes me want to give you a big hug 🙂

  7. Another lurker coming out to say wow! You have done a great job at expressing how I also feel about food and exercise and body image. Thank you, and keep up the great work with this blog!

  8. Sarah R says:

    Great, great post! 😀

  9. Butter and cream are SO worth it.
    Sidenote: you have pasta without the “a” in it in the ingredient listing.

  10. Well said, Bridget, well said. This pasta looks amazing 🙂

  11. Life without bikini is so much more doable than life without Alfredo 🙂

  12. Love this post. I’m always feeling self conscious in certain outfits. Summers are the worst. I’m with you… I don’t want to give up what I love. I will try to work out more though – that’s where I’ve been failing. Maybe some new veggies – maybe. 😉 I’ve actually been planning on trying homemade alfredo for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it. Thanks for the reminder! Yours looks so amazing and I haven’t had it with fettuccine in ages.

  13. bridget says:

    katie – Thanks; fixed!

  14. Mmm… I would love to have just one bite of that pasta, but I don’t have a pasta machine!

    I love your rant about body image and diet. I’m actually a slightly overweight and I could stand to lose a few pounds. I work out, but you won’t ever catch me in a bikini 🙂 Bikinis are overrated.

  15. Great post, Bridget! Peabody about this idea a couple of weeks ago and talked about Mariel Hemingway telling Oprah that women would NEVER say the things to their friends they say to themselves. How true! I’d never moo at my friend or tell her she shouldn’t be wearing a certain swimsuit. We must learn to be happy and allow ourselves some indulgences. Life is too short!

  16. I love these resolutions. And I love this pasta. Bravo!

  17. Great post 🙂 Now go eat another almond!

  18. Hear hear! I agree completely, and I felt so much better about myself when I realized that a piece of cake is more important and meaningful to me than my skinny jeans.

  19. Love this post and the pasta looks fabulous!!

  20. Great post! I sometimes feel bad about eating certain things, but then I think that life is so much more enjoyable with brownie batter and ice cream. It’s all about moderation 🙂

  21. I am thin-ish. But I could definitely stand to up my exercise and healthy foods intake. I do feel slightly less guilty for eating an entire custard pie over the weekend. By myself. Thanks for that.

  22. I love this post, it is very well-written and spoken like a true foodie! Now, I wish I could reach out into the computer screen and enjoy a bowl of your delicious homemade pasta!

  23. Love this post. You’re so right. Make an effort to make good choices 95% of the time and enjoy the hell out of the other 5%. Guilt is for the birds. 🙂 Pasta looks great. Simple perfection worth the splurge. Yum.

  24. Hear, hear! Love the great attitude. 🙂

    (Also love all of the great recipes)

  25. I struggle with this a lot too, but fundamentally a life with cookies is worth it. your pasta looks great 🙂

  26. I just wanted to say that I loved every word of this post…

    …Except the word ‘thin’. Bridget, you don’t have to be thin to be a)healthy b)sexy c)desirable d)confident. I’m sorry, but that is such a ridiculous myth, and people are making it worse for themselves every single day.

    As long as you are healthy, it doesn’t matter at ALL what your weight or size is. Everyone is different.

    Other than that, rock on, girlfriend.

  27. This is such a powerful post!

  28. I love this! The fettuccine looks amazing and your words are very well said. 🙂

  29. twyla says:

    Thanks for the encouraging post!

  30. It’s so true–you have to make good choices most of the time but you have to live a little too! And that fettuccine looks delish!

  31. bridget says:

    Max – You are absolutely right. For me personally, the fact that I’m already thin makes the guilt even more ridiculous, but I wholeheartedly agree with you that healthy and thin and beautiful are not the same things. I hope I didn’t unintentionally feed that myth.

  32. A good one. The simple ones are the best!

  33. beautiful post. words i needed to read. thank you! 🙂

  34. You can’t be perfect ALL the time — it’s not realistic, and it’s not healthy. Sometimes you just have to have what you WANT to have, even if it’s unhealthy. You are a bigger person than me — you exercise and make an effort to be fit. I take being skinny for granted, and eat what I want to eat most of the time. Including delicious alfredo.

    Keep doing what you’re doing girl, and feel good doing it!

  35. I found your blog through the nest, and I’m so glad you did. And that you wrote this post. I love it.

  36. This is my first post on your blog although I have been following for quite some time now. I love this post…it resonated with how I often (and sometimes how I WISH I felt) about eating and my body, etc. I too found your blog on the Nest and am a loyal follower now. Your recipes are wonderful and I’ve added tons to my list of things to make for my own blog. Thanks for this post…I hope you are glad you chose to put it out there!

  37. Love your post! I’m working on being comfortable with not feeling guilty when I choose to indulge in some of my favorite things. I work out & am fit. I should not feel guilty if I eat queso & chips or fettuccine every once in a while! Your fettuccine looks like some of the best I’ve ever seen & I can’t wait to.try it! I love your blog by the way!

  38. Great post! I know exactly how you feel. I snack on vegetables and apples are a main caloric source for me… and yet I lick brownie batter bowls. And you know what? It’s OK.

    I was raised on this kind of alfredo sauce, and while purists love to hate on heavy cream (the butter and parmesan only kind is good too, btw) I love the creamy alfredo of Italian-American restaurants of my youth… before I knew what a calorie was 🙂

  39. Wonderful post…I second that emotion!

  40. A-fucking-men. That is all.

  41. I’m late to the party here since I got really behind on my blog reading/commenting. I think most people struggle with guilt, but slowly and surely, through opening up and sharing like you did today, we can all rid ourselves of the guilt. Great post. The pasta looks great too!

  42. Whenever I get bummed about my roundness that has been creeping up, I remember my wonderful grandmother. She was a little bit round but she always had a warm smile on her face (and she was always baking amazing things in the kitchen). If I can become like her, then by gosh by golly, I’ll take the roundness along with the rest. Thanks, Nana!

  43. omg this looks amazing! any way i could make this pasta from scratch w/o a pasta machine? i really hate to make a homemade sauce like this and not make homemade noodles to go with, but don’t have one of those machines. last time(and only time) i tried to make pasta from scratch it was awful! lol

  44. I just love what you’ve said here. I know that nagging guilt you talk about…and I’ve been trying to get rid of it. Being guilty would make me miss out on eating a wonderful dish like this Fettucini Alfredo, and I certainly wouldn’t want that to happen!

  45. Ok this is our official Christmas Eve dinner from now until I die. It was amazingly simple to put together, too. I’d never waste this sauce on boxed pasta, though, homemade makes it amazing!

  46. We are the grandchildren of Alfredo Di Lelio (Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio). The story is this. Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in Rome nel 1914, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina in Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna). In this local fame spread, first to Rome and then in the world of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio gave the local to his collaborators.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando (Alfredo II) his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (up to 1990 “L’Originale Alfredo”), which is now managed by his nephew Alfredo (grandfather of the same name), with the help of his sister Ines (the same name of his grandmother, wife of Alfredo Di Lelio, which were dedicated to the noodles).
    In conclusion, the local Piazza Augusto Imperatore is following the family tradition of Alfredo Di Lelio and his notes noodles (see also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo”)