Healthy and yummy: Light pasta dishes from 5 Atlanta restaurants

There's no such thing as a no-no food category when you're trying to eat healthy in Atlanta.

You can even welcome pasta to your plate when it comes from one of these innovative restaurants.

Here are five healthy and wealthy-in-taste pasta dishes making the rounds in Atlanta:

Cafe Sunflower Sandy Springs

5975 Roswell Road, 404-256-1675.

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Cafe Sunflower offers international flair and pasta even a vegan can revel in. The Orzo Lasagna, for example, is indulgent and substantial yet healthy as all get out. It includes roasted portabello mushroom, eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, orzo pasta and marinara sauce, accented with a creamy tofu ricotta. The starter served in the evening is also a vegan's dream. Grilled cakes of spaghetti squash, polenta and leeks are blended with a drizzle of creamy caper tofu coulis.

Eats on Ponce

600 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-888-9149.

If you have fond memories of Americana spaghetti nights, Eats has the lighter pasta dish for you. The big draw is flavor-barrage jerk chicken, Southern-style mac and cheese and the sweetest sweet tea, but Eats will take the same care with its "choose your pasta" options. Start with the spinach fettuccine and choose a turkey meat sauce or chicken chili to go on top. Those who weren't raised in any household resembling Aunt Bee's might want to go with Eats' Mediterranean approach to healthful pasta, aka the simple olive oil and garlic treatment.

Figo Pasta in Decatur

627 E. College Ave., 404-377-2121.

The flavor blending on Figo's fresh pastas shoots it into gourmet category without leaving the healthy eater behind. It serves a dish called "Zucca," for example, an amaretto and butternut squash ravioli. The sauce is all-Italian, with antioxidants from red chicory and radicchio. It comes together with mascarpone that adds healthy calcium and just a touch of sweetness. Delectable, just like the slightly richer oak-smoked salmon and English peas in a pink vodka sauce served over whole wheat or gluten-free fusilli if you like. Figo is a small franchise with six locations in metro Atlanta, including one in Decatur.

Local Three Kitchen & Bar

3290 Northside Pkwy., Atlanta. 404-968-2700.

Local's stronghold in the charcuterie makes it a surprise entry into the healthy pasta arena, but it reigns supreme at both. The menu is ever-so-seasonal and constantly rotating, but one dish that works its way into the dining room quite often is Summer Tomato Spaghettini. It's locally sourced and lavished with eggplant, sweet onion, roasted garlic, mozzarella and basil.

Mirko Pasta

4233 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta. 404-303-2110.

Executive Chef Mirko hails from the small coastal town of Tortoreto, Italy. His sea-loving background is evident in two of the healthy seafood pastas he developed for the three Mirko locations, one of them in Atlanta. The first is a specialty of the house, the Tagliatelle Vongole with clams, wine, garlic, diced tomatoes, olive oil and red pepper. The tagliatelle is house-made, and you can switch to spinach tagliatelle if you like. Or, tap into Mirko's whole wheat pastas on the "choose your own" menu. Then make your sauce choice "Granchio," lump crab meat, white wine, diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes.

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