I love food.
And it’s my love of food that drives much of my enthusiasm for finding healthier swaps to many of the foods that I – and many other people – grew up eating that were not quite so healthy
Case in point: Pasta.
Fact is, I don’t know many people who don’t enjoy a warm (or cold) bowl of noodles. Whether it’s in the form of creamy mac-n-cheese or fettucine alfredo, pasta is a commonly loved (but not so healthy) carb. And thus, when the average person does decide to try their hand at healthier food choices, or more specifically “go low carb,” the mere thought of giving up pasta can really send folks into a funk. Playing right into the whole myth that “healthy eating = a life of bland food and misery.” But I’m here to tell you that’s farthest from truth!
Also – and this is something to seriously think about if you’re looking to improve your overall health – eating a diet rich in refined foods and processed grains (like pasta) can make it more difficult to lose weight. I talk about this in my book, That’s Why We Get Fat. And it’s also one of the biggest reasons why I’m such a strong advocate of diets that stress a more Paleo, low carb lifestyle. Because fact remains, we are smack dab in an obesity epidemic in this country (actually wordwide!) and logically speaking, for the average person who doesn’t exercise daily, it’ll always be easier to modify your diet, than to find the extra 1-2 hours a day to burn off all the calories from those not-so-healthy foods you just ate.
Catch my drift?
All this said, regardless of my stance on carbs, I’m still a proud foodie. Bottom line, I like food and I want to eat food that tastes good! So when it comes to forgoing things like pasta, and other processed foods, I also believe it’s good karma to offer people tasty alternatives – like these 6 low carb pasta alternatives that everyone should know about… and that I’m sure many of you will also come to love!
- Spaghetti Squash
Kicking things off we have spaghetti squash, which is very easy to make, and is basically winter squash that naturally breaks apart into small noodle-like shreds when cooked. Mind you, if you overcook the squash, it will be mushy. So if you like your pasta al dente, be careful not to overcook.
How to make: Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half, scoop out all seeds and place cut side down on a sheet pan. Pour about ½ a cup of water around the squash and poke both sides a couple of time with a fork to help it cook evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft, but not falling apart soft. Turn the sides around, and use a fork to scrape the squash to make “noodles.”
- Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini is an incredibly healthy, and incredibly versatile food that can be used to upgrade tons of not-so-healthy recipes. Ever heard of zucchini fritters? If not, you’ll want to check this recipe out!
To make zucchini noodles, you just need a vegetable spiralizer or a julienne peeler like this. As with spaghetti squash, be mindful about how long you cook zucchini noodles, so you can get them to the desired texture.
- Broccoli Slaw
I LOVE broccoli slaw and its nutritional profile is also top notch – low in calories and high in many key nutrients as well as fiber. Also, if you’re not a fan of peeling your veggies, you can easily find broccoli slaw already prepped and packaged in your grocer’s produce section.
- Kelp Noodles
Kelp noodles are an interesting food made from three ingredients: kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water. As far as taste, they’re pretty neutral flavor and do have a firm crunchy texture like a bean sprout. From a nutritional standpoint, kelp noodles also get a thumbs up – low in carbs and calories, and are also a good source of iodine and other trace minerals. You can find kelp noodles at most Asian or International markets.
- Shirataki Noodles
Many people have never heard of never heard of this noodle, but it’s definitely a pasta alternative to try! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE shirataki noodles and FYI, shirataki noodles are made from glucomannan, a soluble fiber. As far as taste, shirataki noodles are very neutral and will take on whatever flavor of food you cook them in. Also, like kelp noodles, Shirataki noodles do come pre-packaged in water, and you can also find Shirataki noodles at most Asian or International markets.
- Carrot Spaghetti
Many people like carrot spaghetti because it’s a “sweeter tasting” pasta alternative. But keep in mind, carrots are also loaded with fiber, so despite the fact that it will taste sweeter, the fiber in carrots will help balance blood sugar. To make carrot spaghetti all you need is a vegetable peeler. Peel your carrot raw, then cook, and enjoy!
And those are my 6 low carb pasta alternatives to know and love! Have you tried any of the above, and did you like? Let me know in the comments!
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Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,