Healthy Alternatives to Pasta
By Paul Rothbart
Italian food. It's one of the most delicious and popular of the world's cuisines. One of its staples is pasta. It is made in many different shapes and can be served in a number of tasty ways. While pasta does contain some nutrition, the fact that it is made from refined flour means it is stripped of some nutrients and the high carb content makes it not such a good tradeoff. There are, however, some wonderful pasta substitutes, that have the texture and flavor, with plenty of nutrition and fewer carbs. Here are a few of the foods that you can turn into a tasty pasta dish.
Zucchini makes a great pasta substitute and it's also Italian. Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, zucchini is loaded with nutrients. It has Vitamins A, B6, C and K. That's a pretty good chunk of the alphabet. Zucchini also contains riboflavin, folic acid, fiber, and protein -- not to mention potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Zucchini can be turned into spaghetti-like noodles using a spiralizer, then cooked and served with your favorite sauce. Lots of nutrition, fewer calories. What's not to like?
Many varieties of squash can also be made into noodles. The easiest of these to form into pasta is the aptly named spaghetti squash. Just bake and use a fork to pull out spaghetti-shaped strands of the flesh. Like zucchini, squash, spaghetti, butternut, and summer squash, are low in cholesterol and calories. Squash also contains many of the same nutrients. A nice plate of spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and meatballs is like the real thing, but so much more healthy.
Pasta made from quinoa is available in most supermarkets and grocery stores. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and thus is one of the very few plant foods that is considered a complete protein. But it doesn't stop there. Quinoa is also filled with iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and fiber. When cooking quinoa, it is important to stir often and not to overcook or the noodles will stick together and form a lumpy mess.
Chickpeas are a very healthy legume and also made into pasta. Most stores carry this type of pasta. Look in the healthy foods section. Chickpeas are also used to make falafel and hummus and are very nutritious. They contain eight grams of fiber and protein in just half a cup. Chickpeas are also low in carbs and cholesterol. This pasta comes in many of the traditional shapes.
One of the most comforting and delicious meals there is, is a nice plate of pasta. But laden with carbs and calories, caution must be taken. One way to enjoy pasta with greater health benefits is to try one of these substitutes. Find the one you like best and enjoy a guilt-free Italian meal.
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