More Pasta, please!

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In the process of getting healthy, we strive to find the best alternatives for our favorite dishes. Over countless years of innovation and evolving, we have found ways to substitute our regular milk with alternatives like oat milk or almond milk and we have even found a way to swap regular, sugary soda for naturally sweetened, zero calorie drinks. These days, one, specific food that is gaining popularity with it’s many options for healthy alternatives is pasta. Yes, that’s right. Carb-filled, heavy and delicious pasta. It seems we have truly found a way to indulge without the consequence of a stomach ache and a few pounds. Here are some healthy alternatives that will leave you feeling satisfied, without breaking the scale.

Shirataki Noodles

According to Dr. Jonathan Carp, the president of Miracle Noodle, shirataki noodles “are made from the root of a plant called the konjac plant and it was invented by buddhist monks over 1,000 years ago in Japan.” What makes shirataki noodles unique is that it’s made from the fiber of the konjac plant and so the noodle itself is actually 97 percent water and 3 percent fiber, Carp says.

Make it:

-Shirataki noodles can be found pre-made at many grocery stores. Products like Miracle Noodle and Wonder Noodle make it easy for consumers to have a meal ready to go in a matter of minutes.
-Open your bag of shirataki noodles and drain. Using a strainer, rinse the noodles for a 3-5 minutes or at least until the odor eases.
-Next, bring a bowl of water to a boil and place the noodles in the heated water for a few minutes.
-Finally, drain the noodles and add them to your chosen recipe.

Benefits:

Since the noodles are low-carb, they will not impact your blood sugar. This in turn keeps your energy level steady, Dr. Carp says. In addition, the noodles are full of prebiotic fiber, which has been shown to aid in weight loss.

Zoodles

Otherwise known as zucchini noodles, zoodles are a great pasta alternative because you are making the switch from dough noodles to a vegetable.

Make it:

-This is definitely the most laborious alternative because in order to get zoodles, one must use a vegetable spiralizer (A.K.A. a great arm workout).
-After your zucchini is fully spiralized, put it into a saucepan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
-Once your spirals start to become more translucent and are soft, take them off the heat and let them cool.
-Voila! Your noodles are ready. Add whatever toppings you would like and enjoy! (I like marinara and parmesan; a classic.)

Benefits:

It may be obvious that there is more than just the caloric benefit from switching regular pasta to zucchini pasta. According to the Food Revolution Network, zucchini improves digestion, slows down aging, lowers blood sugar levels, boosts energy, improves the thyroid, improves eye health and more.

Hearts of Palm

Probably the most uncommon of the bunch, hearts of palm is a vegetable harvested from the core of palm trees. Containing essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B-6, hearts of palm has much more to bring to the table than traditional pasta.

Make it:

-Companies such as Palmini have hearts of palm ready to go in a can or in a bag. Each serving holds just 20 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. You can also find raw hearts of palm at your local grocery store.

Benefits:

Not only is hearts of palm low in calories, but since it has some fiber, hearts of palm can aid in digestion. Having little to no fat, hearts of palm is a great alternative for those who are watching their cholesterol. Also, since it has almost no sodium, hearts of palm is one of the best choices for those who want to indulge without the post-meal bloat.

Kelp Noodles

Kelp is a form of seaweed that can be found along coastlines all over the world and has been part of human diets for hundreds of years. In noodle form, they are clear, fine noodles that, when prepared, can be a substantial substitute for almost any pasta recipe.

Make it:

-Kelp noodles are typically found, bagged at your local health-foods store. To prepare, take out the noodles and rinse
-Next, prepare them with any kind of recipe you are needing noodles for!

Benefits:

According to Organic Facts, kelp has anti-aging properties, it protects thyroid health, can control diabetes and has anticancer potential. Kelp contains minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper and has high levels of iodine. In addition, kelp contains essential vitamins like vitamin A, B1, B2, C, C and E.

Spaghetti Squash

Whoever named this vegetable knew it’s destiny to be a substitute for traditional spaghetti from the get-go. The pumpkin-like squash, when baked to the correct pliability, can be scraped to form noodles that can go along with everything from traditional bolognese to chow mein.

Make it:

-First, set the oven to 350 degrees and get out a cookie sheet.
-This may be the hardest part. Cut open the spaghetti squash longways until they are fully split into two halves.
-Using a spoon, scoop out the inside “guts” of the squash and throw it away.
-Add a thin layer of olive oil to the exposed quash and flip it over onto the cookie sheet. They are to go in the oven face down.
-Cook the squash for about 40 minutes or until it is soft all the way through- the softer it is, the easier the next step will be.
-Once out of the oven, flip over the squash. Let it cool!
-Using a fork, begin scraping the insides until you have as many “noodles” you need.
-Your spaghetti squash noodles are ready! Enjoy!

Benefits:

In addition to spaghetti squash being high in vitamin C, the vegetable alternative is also high in fiber. Since this is the case, this means that you will have a sense of fullness and satisfaction, but watch out! Spaghetti squash is known to have a high amount of carbohydrates, but is still a better substitute than your traditional, wheat noodles.

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