Whether it’s your grandma’s famous spaghetti or fettuccine from your favorite restaurant, pasta is a staple in many diets. It’s hearty and filling and a perfect vehicle for a flavorful sauce. Sadly, pasta isn’t always the healthiest choice, no matter how delicious it may be. The solution? Vegetable noodles. It may sound odd, but many common vegetables can be shaped into healthier pasta noodles. Now you can enjoy the flavor and texture of your favorite pasta dishes with far fewer carbs and calories.
Why Bother With a Pasta Substitute?
Substituting vegetables for pasta has a number of health benefits, especially for those with certain dietary requirements:
- Swapping vegetable noodles for actual noodles reduces carb and calorie intake significantly. 100 grams of spaghetti weigh in at 31 grams of carbs while the equivalent amount of zucchini noodles contains only 3.1 grams.
- Vegetables contain far more nutrients than pasta, which helps those wanting a more nutritious, balanced diet.
- Vegetables have a lower glycemic index than pasta, making them ideal for those watching their blood sugar.
- Those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities will appreciate having a gluten-free alternative to wheat-based pasta.
But are all these nutritional benefits worth it if you’re sacrificing the taste you love? Thankfully, veggie noodles can not only look similar to traditional noodles, they often taste the same, especially when served with your favorite sauces and toppings.
How To Make The Noodles
The easiest way to turn your vegetables into noodles is to purchase a spiralizer. A spiralizer is a small, affordable kitchen tool that allows you to create evenly-sized noodles out of practically any vegetable.
If you’re just curious about the trend or don’t have the budget for a new gadget, there are other methods of creating the noodle substitutes. For a linguini or fettuccini duplicate, you might consider slicing or shaving your veggies to create long, flat “noodles.” You might also consider grating to get a more rice-like, risotto texture. Your technique will also depend on the vegetable, so it’s worth experimenting with different methods until you find what you like best!
Finally, you may be able to purchase vegetables that have already been cut to shape. Look in your fresh and frozen veggie aisles to see what’s available, although it may be cheaper long-term to prepare your own.
Once you’ve obtained your veggie noodles, it’s time to get cooking! You can either boil or saute them for between one and five minutes, depending on the texture of the vegetable. For a more interesting (but less traditional) texture, you may also consider eating certain vegetable noodles raw.
Top 5 Veggies For Pasta Substitutes
A huge variety of vegetables are suitable for use as noodles, and your choice will ultimately depend on your nutritional and taste goals. To get you started, consider using one of the following vegetables, which are all popular pasta substitutes:
Carbs Per Serving: 7g
Key Nutrients: Potassium, Vitamins B5 and B6
Shredding a cooked spaghetti squash nets you a pile of thin, fine strands of squash closely reminiscent of angel hair pasta. Squoodles, as they’ve been nicknamed, are especially enjoyable with a light sauce. No spiralizer or special tools are required to enjoy these veggie noodles!
Carbs Per Serving: 3.1g
Key Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, and K
Zucchini is one of the most popular pasta-substitutes among the low-carb crowd. With a mild flavor, low carbohydrate count, and plenty of nutritional value, zoodles are a great bet for your next pasta dish.
Carbs Per Serving: 10g
Key Nutrients: Vitamins A, E, and K
Although carrots have a slightly stronger flavor than some of the other options, they have a firmer texture that stand up well to boiling. Carrot noodles are often paired with Asian-inspired sauces to complement the natural taste of the vegetable, and they maintain a more al-dente texture once cooked.
Carbs Per Serving: 20g
Key Nutrients: Manganese, Vitamins A and C
Sweet potatoes are slightly higher in carbs, but their mushy texture makes swoodles feel more like pasta than some of the alternatives. Because sweet potatoes are plenty sweet on their own, you’ll want to consider a savory or hearty sauce.
Carbs Per Serving: 7g
Key Nutrients: Folate, Vitamins C and K
Broccoli may not sound like it would work as a noodle, but the stalks make a great base for vegetable rotini. Broccoli’s mild flavor blends well with a wide range of sauces and treatments.
Occasionally replacing your pasta with veggie noodles is a great step towards improving your nutrition and overall wellness. For more tips on healthy living, follow MediPeds on Facebook!