Brussels sprouts, bacon & sun-dried tomato pasta

If you’ve ever ventured away from the food over here and read my about page you might’ve seen the reference to the “sophomore ten” in my history with food and weight. What I didn’t write about over there was the crazy protein diet my mom and I went on the summer after my sophomore year of college to loose that weight.

I think it’s real name was Lean for Life or something like that. It was pretty much what the love child of Atkins and South Beach would have looked like. My aunts were doing it at the time too and we somehow got a bootleg copy of the diet plan and decided to start it ourselves. The first three days were called “protein days” because you literally ate protein the entire day. Carbs were supposed to be limited to around 50grams in an effort to kick your body into ketosis. I can totally get behind a good steak or a piece of well cooked fish, but do you know what it’s like to eat just protein for 3 entire days? It’s disgusting.

After those first three days you followed a diet plan that was still heavy on the protein but also incorporated lots of veggies and fruits. Every week would kick off with another protein day at the start and this went on for 6-8 weeks. No straight up carbs the entire time. Carbs were ok in fruits and veggies, but I didn’t eat a piece of bread or a strand of spaghetti for an entire 2 months. Do you know what that’s like to someone who grew up in an Italian family eating pasta 2-3 times a week?

It’s flippin’ torture is what it is!

I can still remember having a piece of toast after those 8 weeks were up as I started the “maintenance” phase and literally savoring every bite. I’m not sure I’ve experienced pure satisfaction as good as that since (sorry, babe).

The diet actually worked (combined with a lot of walking) and I lost about 12lbs. However, I had convinced myself that since it worked, my body was one of those that only “responded well to a low carb diet.” Seriously, that statement literally came out of my mouth and I would tell people that.

So, I went on for the next year or two trying to maintain that way of eating and throwing in protein days here and there when I fell off track (i.e. after 10 cent wings and $3 pitchers on Thursday nights). My college roommates will still tell stories of me cooking black pepper crusted tuna steaks in our disgusting apartment senior year and eating that for 3 days straight. I would snack on pickles (they were ok during protein days) and eat copious amounts of cheese.

During this entire time there were obvious enemy foods. Bread, rice and most glaringly, PASTA.

Dickinson actually had really good caf food, especially some of the pasta dishes and I would have to summon literally every ounce of willpower to walk away from the pasta station.

It was a sad, sad existence.

Eventually, I entered the real world of a full time job and my motivation to follow the “protein diet” slowly tanked. The next 4 or 5 years were pretty much up and down on the scale until I finally got my shit together enough and woke up to what a “real” healthy diet is.

Funny, now I can eat pasta and not feel bad, put on weight or have to follow it up with a “protein day.”

Too bad I wasted those two years pasta-less. Especially, when I could’ve been eating this.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Shredded brussels sprouts and bacon, a classic combination made even better in pasta.
Recipe type: entree, pasta
Serves: 3-4
  • ½ lb. whole wheat spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 14 oz. can artichokes in water, drained and chopped
  • 4-5 slices of bacon
  • ⅓ cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, add bacon slices to a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until crispy. Remove from skillet, set aside and crumble once cooled.
  3. In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add sliced brussels sprouts and saute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. At this point, water should be boiling. Salt water and cook pasta until al dente.
  5. While pasta cooks, add sun-dried tomatoes to the brussels sprouts and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  6. Next, add artichokes and saute for a final 2-3 more minutes. Season mixture with salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Once pasta is done, drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid.
  8. Add pasta to the skillet and parmesan cheese.
  9. Toss to combine, adding in some of the pasta water as needed to keep it from being too dry.
  10. Top pasta with crumbled bacon.


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  1. 1

    I love pasta – and I can’t imagine life without it!!! This looks amazing. Don’t hate me, but I’ll do it sans bacon, but you understand right? ;)

  2. 3

    Glad you are making up for lost time now! I remember the wrestling guys in high school would do the all protein diets and they would have such crazy mood swings it was scary!

    • 4
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Wrestling guys were nuts. I remember them jogging around the high school in sweatshirts and sweatpants just to lose water weight before matches!

  3. 5

    I would totally eat this, minus the artichokes ;)

  4. 6

    wow, that’s awesome you lost 12 pounds..but that’s such torture, as you said, to not have carbs for 6-8 weeks. i honestly don’t know if i could do that but i need to lose weight sooo maybe i’m going to have suffer haha

    BUT, this pasta..OMG, how am i going to diet when you throw that in my face?? oh, i love this pasta and have been waiting for you to post it ever since instagram. amazing!!

    • 7
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Oh God, I think you’re joking but please don’t even think about doing that diet! No need to suffer like that to lose weight. Take Pollan’s advise and just eat mostly plants (and move more) that works a lot better than suffering through protein days! haha

  5. 8

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to make it!

  6. 9

    This looks so great and not a huge list of ingredients! I literally just said to my fiancé that we should eat more artichokes they’re so yummy. I haven’t jumped on the Brussels bandwagon yet, don’t really know how to cook or prepare them. Any suggestions for a simple side dish??

  7. 10

    These are some of your best pictures in my opinion! And love the flavors and ingredients, brussels are simply my favorite but I always buy them frozen.

  8. 11

    I can relate to this – my roommate convinced me to do Atkins with her my sophomore year of college, in an attempt to lose the freshman 15 (she was very thin though – I think she was just being trendy?). I ate so much cheese, eggs, bacon…and felt absolutely disgusting all the time. It only lasted a month or so before I caved and started the transition to a flexitarian diet, which made my body a million times more happy. How I eat now could not be more different from how I was eating then. I cringe just thinking about it!

  9. 12

    Oh heck yes. Just when you thought brussel sprouts couldn’t get any better you went ahead and added bacon!

  10. 13

    I want to stick my face into that dish! It looks freakin AMAZING!! Glad your back on the pasta now! :) It’s so funny what we put our bodies through in the name of being ‘healthy’ I don’t even want to think of the stupid diets I went on when I was younger! :/ Hormonal and hungry! Eek!

  11. 14

    As delicious as that recipe looks, my favorite part of the post might be that you haven’t experienced that kind of satisfaction since that piece of toast- bahaha! :)

  12. 16

    One of my best friends went to Dickinson. I lovvve brussels and bacon!! sometimes I’ll de leaf them (they look like tiny bowls!) and fry them in a bit of bacon grease. It’s a treat food, but so, so good.

  13. 17

    Ugh, I did the low carb high protein thing when I lived at home with my parents. At the end of the first two weeks where you totally cut out carbs I was ready to kill for pasta. Or bread. Or anything other than a piece of cheese or a couple almonds, haha. It did work for me too, I even went back to how I regularly ate and kept it off until after I had my son, then I tried it again and realized it was ridiculous and then slowly figured out what works best for me instead of randomly cutting out entire food groups, haha. Your pasta looks so good. I love how simple it is, but it still looks amazing. Ah the beauty of pasta :D

  14. 18

    That last shot is gorgeous and an example of whatever changes you made to the photo editing/saving process (I tried to conceptualize it in that other post but you lost me in translation…) but they’re working.

    Tack sharp. Gorgeous.

    What are you editing with? Still iphoto?

    • 19
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Thanks! Just using Digital Photography Pro (the software that came w/ my Canon) mainly right now. I can’t believe how much a difference just shooting in RAW made!

  15. 20

    I read that as “Dickinson had really good cat food”

    Obviously I need new glasses. LOL

  16. 21

    “sorry babe” poor Ulys. :)

    I cannot imagine doing that diet, mostly because I don’t eat meat, so I’d be surviving on peanut butter straight out of the jar.

  17. 22

    My parents decide to try Atkin’s when I was in 5th grade and I remember being so angry at them because we didn’t get to have pasta while they were on the diet. Mmm…brussels sprouts and pasta.

  18. 23

    My roommate is currently on the Atkin’s diet and, as much as I’ve tried to convince her that carbs are NOT the enemy- she’s been brainwashed. It irritates me to no end! But, her mom has been on the diet for a few months and has seen results, so she’s following in her footsteps. I’m hoping she’ll come around eventually, though.
    A world without pasta and bread is a sad, sad world.

    Delicious looking recipe! <3

  19. 24

    Congrats on leaving the whole DIET thing behind!

  20. 25

    There was a time in my life that I could have given up pasta. Besides lasagna we really didn’t have homemade Italian growing up so I didn’t pasta dishes could be so marvelous. I would have never put brussels sprouts, bacon and sun dried tomatoes together. This looks amazing.

  21. 26

    I just recently discovered bacon with pasta and its delicious! I will have to try this one out too!

  22. 27

    Brussel sprouts have never looked so good!

  23. 28

    I love the flavors in this! It’s basically all the toppings like like on my pizza, but with pasta. Brilliant!

    Life’s wayyyy to short to go pasta-less. :)

  24. 29

    Brussel Sprouts and Artichokes are some of my favorite items to bake with. And pasta is my ultimate comfort food. I LOVE this recipe!

  25. 30

    I love everything in this pasta! Awesome!

  26. 31

    This looks wonderful! I love the idea of brussel sprouts and bacon. I think my husban may like this dish! I think I’ll make it sometime this week!! For me, I try to stay away from pasta because I can’t control myself, I love it!! But every once in a while I need to splurge, especially on a healthy dish like this.

  27. 32

    Oh man, I miss the Dickinson caf.

    Also, I hope everyone comes to their senses the way you did. Carbs are not the enemy!

  28. 33

    Those plates are so cool. I am on a plate kick lately. I just picked up the coolest giant soup bowls. I was so excited to put a pic of them on my blog that I cooked up a pretty fancy dish. I’m sure my guy will encourage me to buy plates more often.

  29. 34

    Making this tonight. Cannot wait, it look so good!

  30. 35

    I about died when I read Dickinson in there! I just graduated from there and was searching for a brussel sprout pasta dish! So glad I came across this, it will be my dinner!

    • 36
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Hope you enjoy it! It’s sad that I’m trying to think of some Dickinsonian thing to say and I’ve literally got nothing. haha I guess 8 years removed from college graduation will do that to ya ;)

  31. 37

    What’s up, I check your new stuff regularly. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up!


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