Whether you’re following a low-carb diet or craving something new, there’s plenty of healthy alternatives to satisfy the pasta lover in all of us. The key is spiralizing.
Spiralizing is when you transform a raw vegetable into noodle-like strands that you can use in place of traditional pasta. These noodles are low-carb, gluten-free and add more health benefits to your meals, delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. It’s also an easy way to sneak more vegetables into your family’s diet.
What do I use?
There are many spiralizers on the market that help you turn veggies into pasta. But a standard vegetable peeler, julienne peeler or a knife works just as well.
What veggies can I spiralize?
Pretty much any vegetable can be spiralized, so the fun part is deciding which one. Start with more mild tasting vegetables like summer squash, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant or potatoes. Then you can move on to broccoli, beets (wear gloves to prevent them from staining your hands), turnips, rutabaga and jicama.
A note about spaghetti squash: With less than a quarter of the calories of traditional spaghetti and just 10 grams of carbs per cup, it’s also a lot healthier. It also naturally separates into spaghetti-like strands after cooking, so no equipment necessary.
How do I cook them?
One of the best things about spiralized vegetables is that they can be eaten raw—simply toss in a salad or use for a cold noodle dish. But if you want to cook them, it only takes a few minutes. Coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray, add the vegetable noodles, and cook, stirring gently, until slightly soft and hot, about 3 minutes.
What can I eat them with?
You can top your veggie noodles with any store-bought sauce as you would traditional pasta. You can also try a simple lemon-butter sauce or this homemade pesto:
In a small food processor, combine ½ light ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, ¼ cup chopped basil, 1 ½ teaspoon chopped garlic, ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of water and blend until uniform. Yields enough pesto for two servings of zucchini noodles.
What about fruit?
You can even spiralize apples and pears! Apples are high in carbs but still a lower-carb option when compared to traditional pasta, with just 14 grams of carbs in one medium-sized apple compared to 30 grams for 3.5 ounces of cooked pasta.