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Get Your Pasta Fix with These Non-Noodle Alternatives

Love pasta but are trying to cut back on carbs? These regular pasta swaps will allow you to enjoy noodles without going overboard on carbohydrates or empty calories.

If you are are trying to cut back on the amount of carbohydrates you eat, one food you might really be missing is pasta. But you don’t have to give up on it completely! The following pasta swaps are not only lower in total carbohydrates, they are also lower in calories and are gluten-free. The types made from veggies, beans, and lentils come with an added bonus — fabulous fiber! We know fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and cardiovascular system, but what may not be as well known is its ability to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Fiber keeps you full longer, reducing the urge to snack throughout the day or eat too much during a meal.

A serving of pasta contains about 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates. Most people, whether cooking it at home or getting it out at a restaurant, eat regular white pasta, which provides a lot of calories and refined carbs but little to no actual beneficial nutrients such as fiber or phytochemicals.

A quick disclaimer — none of these pasta alternatives will exactly mimic both the texture and taste of regular pasta, but they do work well as substitutions, especially if you utilize other flavorful ingredients such as fresh herbs, spices, citrus juices, robust sauces, nuts, savory cheeses and lean proteins.

Spiralized Veggies

This variation on veggies reminds us that veggies are not only good for us, they are also incredibly versatile! Spiralized veggies pull double duty in that they help you cut down on your carbohydrates (which is especially helpful if you’d otherwise be eating nutrient-poor, refined-carbohydrate pasta such as regular white pasta) and they help boost your vegetable intake. Nine out of 10 Americans don’t eat the recommended number of daily servings of vegetables.

Spiralized vegetables add an additional fun component to your cooking — particularly if you care for young children — because they’re often very vibrantly colored. Kids might be more likely to eat their pasta — and simultaneously their veggies — if they’re a cool bright orange (perhaps spiralized butternut squash) or deep green (such as spiralized zucchini). The nutrition stats will vary based on the veggie and how much you eat, but one medium zucchini (196 grams), spiralized, provides only 33 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Legume (Bean or Lentil) Noodles

There are now noodles made from a variety of legumes, including pasta made from black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), mung beans, green lentils, red lentils, and others. Explore Cuisine, Tolerant, Ancient Harvest POW! Pasta, Pasta Lensi, and Pasta Legume are a few brands that offer legume-based pasta. The brand Tolerant makes several lentil and bean pastas that are also made with veggies such as kale and beets. On average (stats vary based on brand) a 3/4-cup serving (56 grams dry) contains about 200-215 calories, 1 gram of fat, 23-34 grams of carbohydrates, 3-12 grams of fiber, and 14-15 grams of protein.

Konjac Root Shirataki Pasta

These noodles are already cooked and come packaged in liquid in a small bag. These are made from the root of a plant called konjac (may be referred to as a Konnyaku potato) and it may also be displayed on the ingredient list as yam flour. Pro tip: thoroughly drain and rinse these noodles in a colander and then dry them slightly by heating them in a skillet for about 1-2 minutes. This helps significantly cut down on the off-putting smell. Regardless of whether or not you rinse and dry them, these do not taste fishy at all. In fact, they don’t really taste like anything. Brands names you may find include Nasoya Pasta Zero, Miracle Noodle, Skinny Shirataki Noodles, and NOoodle. Per one 8-ounce serving of drained pasta (it’s already cooked), they contain about 15-20 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 4 grams of carbohydrate.

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

These noodles are very similar to the konjac root noodles but they are made from both konjac (yam flour) and tofu. Brand names you might see include House Foods Tofu Shirataki. A 4-ounce serving of this pasta contains a mere 10 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates. Compare that to a 2-ounce serving (this is pre-cooked weight after it is cooked it is about 4-ounces, just like the already-cooked tofu shirataki noodles) of regular pasta, which contains 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates.


[Image via Shutterstock]

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