Cold peanut noodles already are among the healthier choices when it comes to Asian takeout, yet there still is plenty of room for improvement.

While nuts are an excellent protein and can be part of a healthful diet, peanut butter is relatively high in fat and calories. Plus, if you're counting carbs, the noodles won't do you any favors.

But turning this decadent noodle dish into a meal rich in nutrients, complex carbohydrates and healthier fats is easy when you make it from scratch.

For extra fiber and nutrients in our chili-lime almond butter noodles, whole-wheat fettuccine are used instead of white pasta. And don't get stuck on shape; any variety of whole-grain pasta can be substituted.

Next, the sauce is made with almond butter (for the extra nutritional punch they offer over peanut butter) spiked with tangy lime juice, spicy chili-garlic sauce and minced fresh ginger.

The sauce gets thinned a bit with some of the pasta cooking water, which helps curb fat and calories while adding some starch for improved coating power and a smoother texture.

Finally, the entire dish gets a nutritional bonus with the addition of a substantial amount of filling, low-in-calorie, but high-in-nutrient vegetables, which for convenience are cooked in the same water as the pasta.

Look for chili-garlic sauce in the Asian section of your market, or in a pinch substitute a few cloves of minced garlic and crushed pepper flakes to taste.

Chili-Lime Almond Butter Noodles

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

1/2 cup smooth almond butter

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce, or to taste

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine

12-ounce bag fresh vegetable stir-fry blend, such as carrots, broccoli, snow peas

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond butter, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and ginger.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until not quite tender, about 1 1/2 minutes less than specified by the package directions. Add the vegetables and cook until the pasta and vegetables are just tender, about another 1 1/2 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving cup of the cooking water. Rinse the pasta and vegetables with cool water. Stir the reserved cooking liquid into the almond sauce, then add the pasta and vegetables. Toss well to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 191 calories; 112 calories from fat; 12 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 272 mg sodium.