Pasta is popular. It's warm, delicious, and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, pasta isn't the healthiest of options. This staple favorite is often made from white flour, a refined carbohydrate lacking in nutritious elements like fiber, most vitamins, and minerals. Instead, it contains simple carbs that can negatively impact the body's blood sugar levels.
Chefs interested in providing nutritious, healthy meals should be adept at transforming pasta alternatives into highly desirable meals for patrons who are prone to choose the pasta.
Here are 5 great noodle alternatives that won't make you sacrifice flavor for health:
1. Zucchini Noodles “Zoodles”
This green vegetable is one of the world's most popular pasta alternatives.
Making the Noodles: The most efficient way to make zucchini noodles is with a little kitchen tool called the julienne peeler. Julienne peelers are great for creating thin strips of vegetables, allowing you to easily create spaghetti-styled strips of zucchini.
Begin by peeling the zucchini lengthwise until you reach the innermost seeds. Then, rotate and peel the next side, and then the next, until all four sides of the zucchini have been peeled and only a thin strip of seeds remains. Next, bring a pot of water to boil just as if you were cooking traditional spaghetti. Add the zucchini strips and boil for about a minute or until they taste firm and not too mushy or crunchy. Once drained, add your desired sauces or toppings and serve.
Health Benefits: Zucchini contains high levels of vitamin C and manganese, nutrients that help keep skin strong and firm. Additionally, this vegetable protects against free radical damage, helping to prevent against certain types of cancer (most notably skin cancer).
2. Spaghetti Squash
Note the name? This great noodle alternative is quickly becoming a top pasta contender on many a fine dining menu.
Making the Noodles: Begin by cutting the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove as many seeds as possible. Place the cored-out side up on a baking sheet or pan and lightly brush it with extra virgin olive oil. Allow the squash to bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done, use a long pronged fork to scrape the 'noodles' out and then season the thin strips as desired.
Health Benefits: Spaghetti squash is a huge hit among calorie counters because it's only got 42 calories per cup while still containing a punch of important nutrients like fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Plus, it contains omega 3's that operate as natural anti-inflammatories.
This bold and beautiful vegetable is a great way to add both color and nutrition to your dishes.
Making the Noodles: To transform these round purple vegetables into spaghetti-styled noodles, you'll need either a box grater or a spiralizer. If you prefer to make a more ravioli style dish, use a mandolin or an appropriate knife to cut thin, circular strips that can be filled with cheese.
Health Benefits: A true superfood, beets are the premier detox food for their ability to support the liver's detoxification process and help the body get rid of any lingering toxins. They are also rich in fiber and betalains that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
4. Sweet Potato
These sweet and delicious orange potatoes are packed full of fiber and other nutrients that will keep patrons healthy in addition to full and satisfied.
Making Noodles: Due to its hardy nature, you'll definitely want to use a spiralizer to transform the potato into a pasta alternative. The best pairing for this sweet vegetable is a creamy sauce. To make a more colorful dish, combine it with the aforementioned beet and zucchini noodles.
Health Benefits: Sweet potatoes contain high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and fiber. These last two are great for producing energy, while the former supports healthy vision, the immune system, and cellular growth.
5. Kelp Noodles
Once a mostly unknown food outside of Asia, this nutritious vegetable is becoming quite popular because it contains zero fat and being very low in calories.
Making Noodles: Kelp noodles are most easily found in health and Asian food stores. They'll come packaged in long lengths. To prepare them, take them out, rinse, and cut them to more noodle-appropriate lengths. And that's it! They can now be served with your favorite flavor-packed sauces or as a part of a winning salad combination.
Health Benefits: The biggest health benefit of this seaweed is its high iodine content that is highly beneficial for people with thyroid problems.
Went to ecpi today too, late to say that but sure glad I finally saw it. I'm dyin to cook :)
— Shaughn (@KINGBEAST1988) May 28, 2014
If this list of noodle alternatives interests you, and you want to learn more about healthy and nutritious alternatives to traditional favorites, then Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and Applied Nutrition with a concentration in Culinary Nutrition might just be your next career move! To learn more about the program and fast-track degree opportunities, contact ECPI University today. It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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