Alternatives to Pasta
Originating in Italy, but now a staple of meals worldwide, for many of us pasta is a unique and essential part of our diet. Whatever your choice of dish or source, there’s no denying that pasta is an incredibly versatile ingredient and, as a carbohydrate, a rich source of energy. But is pasta actually good for us? Looking at the numbers, one cup of pasta contains just 200 calories and only about 1 gram of fat, not bad! However, pasta is often shunned by dieters and health-conscious eaters for its high carbohydrate content, which can encourage weight gain and increased blood sugar. While pasta might not be entirely unhealthy, there are definitely some better options. Here’s five of the best:
1) Zucchini (Courgette) Surprisingly, the simplest, most healthy replacement for pasta is actually a vegetable! What could be better than adding more nutritious veggies to your meal? When sliced and boiled, zucchini adopts a very similar texture to pasta. To achieve this effect, use a knife or peeler to slice thin, spaghetti-like ribbons and then boil for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can purchase a spiralizer, which are available at very reasonable prices. This is a device that turns zucchini and other vegetables including sweet potato and carrot into delicious and nutritious noodle-like pasta alternatives.
2) Shirataki Noodles Shirataki noodles are thin, translucent noodles originating from Japan and made from the root of a plant called ‘Konjac’. As well as being 100% natural, they are gluten free and vegan. Perhaps best of all, they contain zero calories. That’s right ZERO! This makes them a perfect healthy substitute for pasta. They can replace pasta or noodles in any dish with almost no noticeable difference. You can find shirataki noodles in most Asian food stores and some supermarkets.
3) Soba Noodles Another popular staple in Japan is soba noodles. Just like shirataki noodles, these are virtually fat-free! Made from buckwheat flour, soba noodles are also a great source of protein and fibre and essential nutrients such as vitamin B-1. As an alternative to pasta, they are ideal, blending seamlessly into any classic pasta dish. They are also perhaps tastier than alternatives such as shirataki noodles and can be found at most larger grocery stores.
4) Brown Rice Pasta Brown-rice pasta is a nutritious alternative to traditional white or whole-wheat pasta. Although it contains similar amounts of calories to other pasta, brown-rice pasta is especially high in fibre for lower cholesterol and healthy bowels. This pasta alternative is also gluten-free which makes it an ideal option for those with special dietary needs.
5) Quinoa Quinoa is often thought of as a grain, but it is actually a seed. Rich in protein and packed full of vital nutrients like iron and magnesium, quinoa is an incredibly healthy alternative to common pasta. Quinoa is also incredibly versatile as an ingredient and can be eaten both hot or cold.