Whether you’re on a diet that typically eliminates standard pasta, like a low-carb diet or a gluten-free diet, or you’re just trying to bump up the protein or veggies in your diet through different varieties of “pasta” noodles, there are a bunch of healthy alternatives out there that offer the same delicious flavor. So, the next time you’re thinking of what to make for pasta night, look to these options instead. Play around with sauces, spices, and seasonings, as well as protein and fat as toppers (hello avocado, grilled chicken, pesto, and shrimp!), and see what you like the most.
Chickpea pasta“A somewhat new player to the pasta game that has boomed recently, chickpea pasta has around fiber 8 grams, and protein 11 grams per cup,” says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD. And chickpeas are in a bunch of other foods as a healthy swap, such as for chips and crackers. “This is a great gluten-free pasta alternative and offers a lot more protein than a lot of the other pasta alternatives. You can prep it just like you would regular pasta,” she says. And it’ll have a great texture to complement thick and creamy sauces.
ZoodlesLow-carb? These zoodles are perfect to help you stay on a keto or low-carb diet with ease. “Zucchini can act like noodles in a variety of dishes like lasagna and pasta noodles. You’re getting 1.5 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber per cup of zucchini noodles,” Michalczyk says. Plus, they’re versatile and can take on different flavors. “Add them to chicken soup instead of noodles, or make a lasagna like this one for more vitamin C and potassium per bite,” she suggests.
Spaghetti squashAnother alternative that’s a bit thinner and softer than typical pasta strands, spaghetti squash can still make a great swap and you can bump up different nutrients with a few mix-ins. “I like to think of spaghetti squash as angel hair pasta’s more nutrient-dense cousin! With 1.5 g fiber per cup, 0.6 g protein per cup, I recommend dressing it up with pasta sauce and a source of protein for a filling, and nutrient-dense meal,” Michalczyk says.
Brown rice pastaSince you’d prep and let it cook just like regular pasta, it’s a no-brainer swap. “Another gluten-free pasta alternative, brown rice pasta typically has 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per cup,” Michalczyk explains. To add even more protein and fats you can go with cheesy meatballs on top or a nice vodka sauce with peas and salmon.
Butternut squash noodlesLove a good thick pasta dish? Go with butternut squash noodles. “These are thicker than the other veggie noodle substitutes and a littler heartier,” Michalczyk offers. “Per cup, butternut squash noodles have 1 gram of protein and 2.2 grams of fiber, and it’s is a good source of vitamin A, C and magnesium,” she says. Definitely add in more protein, but feel confident knowing that you’re getting in some immune-boosting antioxidants!
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