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You may love pasta, but the feeling may not be mutual. If pasta doesn’t treat your body right, then it’s time to incorporate some pasta alternatives into your diet this year.
Research shows that more than a whopping 263 million consumers in the United States used packaged pasta — including noodles, spaghetti, and macaroni — in 2017.
So, if you love pasta, you’re in the majority. But are you worried that it may be doing a number on your health?
Here’s a rundown of eight healthy pasta alternatives you should try so you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite food.
Let’s dig in!
1. Pasta Alternatives: Mung Bean Noodles
These noodles are a smart choice for paleo, low-carb and gluten-free eaters. Although they do carry some carbs, they also offer good fiber and protein content, unlike your old-fashioned packaged pasta. So, it all balances out.
Where exactly can you get these noodles? Just make them yourself using mung bean powder. It’s the same type of powder used for making mung bean jello in Korea.
These noodles don’t have much of a taste on their own, but they can be delicious when you flavor them. Try incorporating them into a stir-fry in lieu of a flour-based noodle, or use them in a cold salad. You can even toss the noodles with cheese and pasta sauce.
2. Eggplant Lasagna Noodles
Worried about your carb intake but can’t live without Italian pasta? Good news: You don’t have to give up lasagna to eat healthily.
The eggplant lasagna noodle is a pasta replacement that is second to none for Italian food fans. Silky, tender slices of eggplant can easily be topped with sauce and cheese for a scrumptious meal.
Consider using parmesan or asiago cheese on top of eggplant for a taste that will make you never want to go back to regular pasta again. Okay — well, almost.
3. Shirataki Noodles
Ready to experience a miracle in your weight loss efforts? Try the Japanese shirataki noodles, also called “miracle noodles” in the United States.
These noodles have virtually no calories or fat — only fiber.
Not sure where to find them? Look in the aisle where your local grocery store sells tofu. They’ll likely be right next to it in a package filled with liquid.
When you get home with your new miracle product, all you have to do is drain the liquid, rinse the noodles off and voila — you’re ready to cook with them.
These noodles, made from konjac yams, are a bit rubbery in texture. So, they may not make a great pasta replacement in Italian food. But they are a top choice if you’re making an Asian-flavored dish, such as a salad including a ginger-soy dressing, a noodle soup, stir-fry or a dish with peanut noodles.
What’s so great about these noodles is that they are pretty filling due to the healthy glucomannan fiber found in konjac yams. Still, if you want a heavier dish that will keep you full longer, try the tofu shirataki noodle, which is still low in carbs but offers more protein.
This is one of the most unique pasta alternatives in that it doesn’t really look like pasta.
It’s an ancient grain that comes in various colors, ranging from black to white and red. It’s a great pasta replacement because it offers a healthy dose of protein. A single cup features a whopping 32 grams of it.
Try finding that in flour-based pasta noodles.
But quinoa is also popular due to its versatility. You can eat it cold or hot, and it tastes great with any meal from breakfast to dinner. You can also enjoy it in a stew or soup, with a salad or with sauce — the possibilities are seemingly endless.
5. Black Bean Spaghetti
If you’re a spaghetti lover, don’t leave 2018 without trying out black bean spaghetti. It’s a high-protein pasta replacement made with just two ingredients: water and black beans.
It’s growing in popularity among Western consumers looking for pasta alternatives because they have the perfect consistency for the pasta dishes they enjoy. Its texture and taste are similar to that of whole wheat pasta.
Although this type of spaghetti features some carbs due to the beans in it, it is very nutritious and gluten-free. Feel free to pair it with South Asian curry, marinara sauce or creamy sauce. It’s a particularly excellent option for vegans.
6. Soba Noodles
Looking for another pasta that is filled with protein and fiber? Try the soba noodle.
The Japanese noodle is a yummy choice if you like nuts, as the taste is a bit nuttier than that of traditional pasta. You can eat these spaghetti-sized noodles hot or cold, using them in salads or stir-fry.
This is another low-calorie pasta alternative that can easily be cut into ribbon shapes, shredded or julienned.
Top it with tomato for a much-needed veggie boost that will keep you coming back for more. And if you really want to spoil yourself, add pesto or Bolognese sauce to the mix.
8. Spaghetti Squash
Finally, you can’t go wrong with the yummy, simple-to-cook spaghetti squash. Simply cut a squash into halves, and remove the seeds. Then, apply olive oil to the cut sides.
Next, add pepper and salt to your squash, and put them facing downward on a baking sheet. After baking the squash for between 40 and 50 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use them as serving bowls, filling them with your favorite pasta sauce.
It’s an easy way to make pasta night different and fun for the whole family.
You can also take advantage of several other traditional pasta replacements, including spinach fettuccine or fettuccine featuring a mix of other veggies.