7 Low-Carb Substitutions for Traditional Pasta
Everyone loves a bowl of warm pasta, but not many people love the carbs that go along with eating it. There are many great alternatives you can use in place of traditional pasta to make your favorite dishes a bit healthier.
When substituting traditional pasta for something else in a recipe, it is important to take into consideration how the dish will be served (hot vs. cold, heavily or lightly sauced, etc.) so that you can make the right choice. For some of these options, you may want to look into investing in a julienne peeler or a spiralizer, which will make your alternatives more noodle like.
Here are some of our favorite substitutions and how to use them:
Zucchini is a great option for pasta because it is so versatile. It can be sliced thin and long for use in place of noodles in lasagna or you can use a spiralizer (or julienne peeler) to make it into spaghetti-like noodles that can be topped with your favorite sauce.
You can either leave the zucchini raw or cook them for a warm dish. For the lasagna, roast the sliced lasagna in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes until the zucchini is tender. For the spaghetti-like noodles, heat a large skillet with a bit of oil and sauté the noodles until al dente.
Spaghetti squash is one of the easiest vegetable substitutions for traditional noodles because it is so easy to prepare. Simply cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds, season with salt & pepper, then roast it in a 375-degree oven for about an hour. You will know it is done when the flesh of the squash easily pulls away in strands.
The roasted squash ‘noodles’ can be used in warm or cold pasta dishes, topped with everything from a classic tomato sauce to a Thai peanut sauce and with vegetables.
If you want to make a lighter, cold noodle salad this summer, cucumbers are a great option. You can spiralize them just as you would zucchini, then either cook them as explained above or leave them raw for a refreshing crunch.
Mix them up with a light vinaigrette or a fresh pesto. Top with additional fruit, nuts and vegetables.
Sweet potato noodles are a great way to replace noodles in soups or stews because they tend to hold up well and add delicious fiber and beta-carotene.
If using in a soup or stew, add spiralized or julienned noodles to the simmering pot about five minutes before you are ready to serve.
Not only will beets be a nutritious (they’re high in fiber, vitamins and minerals) noodle substitution, they will also add vibrant color to any dish. The other great thing about beet noodles is that they are great for packing lunches, as they will not break down if you dress them the night before (they actually become more flavorful.)
You can either roast the beet noodles or leave them raw for a delicious salad. Place noodles on a lined baking sheet with a little oil, salt & pepper, then just pop them in a 425-degree oven for 5-10 minutes
Parsnips are somewhat of an underdog in the vegetable world, but the mild root vegetable makes a great substitute for wheat noodles. You can use them in a shrimp scampi dish or a Bolognese, where their hearty text is able to stand up just like pasta would.
Sautéing and boiling are both great ways cook parsnip noodles, boil until al dente in salted water or prepare in a skillet as described above.
Kelp noodles: These clear noodles are made from seaweed and have a very mild taste. Kelp is a type of brown seaweed that is known for its high iodine content. These noodles have a little crunch to them and are great for raw salads, traditional pasta sauce dishes, and soups.
Soba noodles: These Japanese favorites are typically made from buckwheat which makes them a great choice for people who are gluten-free (though not all brands are 100% GF so read labels carefully.) These are a great option for both warm or cold applications.
Shirataki noodles: Another Japanese favorite, shirataki noodles are made from a type of yam (konjac) and are translucent. Another great thing about this noodle alternative, they have zero calories per serving! Just like kelp noodles, they have practically no taste on their own, which means the possibilities are endless.
Rice, whole-wheat and quinoa noodles: Of course, if you are looking for a pasta alternative that is closer to the real thing it is good to look for something made of brown rice, whole-wheat or quinoa. These options will have a flavor and texture most closely related to your traditional wheat based noodles, but with a little more nutrition.
If you are looking to cut down on your carb intake, looking into pasta alternatives is a great idea. There are so many options for substituting pasta in pretty much any dish you can imagine, the possibilities are endless.