While I am not one to cut out specific foods from my diet altogether, I am constantly in search of healthy alternatives to carb-rich foods. One of the easiest and healthiest swaps I have found is simply replacing pasta with an alternative vegetable- or tofu-based noodle. The best part is that [for the most part] you can keep your sauce and/or toppings the same as you would with traditional pasta (i.e. serve your favorite meatballs and sauce over spaghetti squash) or you can get fancy and try out new recipes that may be better suited for your pasta alternative of choice. Now, on to the main event, my favorite pasta alternatives (in no particular order)…
I’ll admit it, spaghetti squash tastes nothing like real pasta, however it is probably one of the best pasta alternatives I have found. Here’s why – 1. it has the look of pasta 2. it tastes amazing on its own or topped with a sauce 3. it pairs well with pretty much any traditional pasta topping you can think of (i.e. pesto, meat ragu sauce, traditional tomato sauce) 4. it is super simple to cook. View my favorite recipes here and here.
At-a-Glance Nutritional Info: low-carb, low-calorie, high in vitamin C, high in fiber
Oh, spiraled zucchini. This was my pasta alternative of choice this summer. Not only does it sneak in an extra serving or two of vegetables into your day, it doesn’t require any cooking (though, you can boil these noodles for 2-3 minutes for a less crunchy noodle). Like spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles can be served up with practically any topping and are especially refreshing as a summer “pasta” salad when dressed. with lemon, olive oil, chopped basil, salt and pepper. One thing to note: spiraled zucchini is best eaten within a day or so of being prepared. Because zucchini is a vegetable with a high water content, I have found that it wilts quickly and isn’t so appetizing after a couple of days in the fridge. If anyone has tips on how to save/freeze spiraled zucchini, I’d love here them! In the meantime, you can view my all time favorite recipe here.
At-a-Glance Nutritional Info: low-carb, low-calorie, high in vitamin C, low in cholesterol, good source of protein
Tofu Shiritaki Noodles
These noodles are made of tofu and konjac, a type of yam that is rich in fiber, and come in a variety of traditional pasta shapes like angel hair and fettucine. Given the somewhat chewy texture of these noodles I definitely recommend you follow the directions on the package when preparing these noodles and stick to using these noodles in stir-fry dishes. View my favorite recipes here and here.
At-a-Glance Nutritional Info: low-carb, low-calorie, gluten-free, dairy-free – view more info here.