By Tina Paymaster, PHASE IV Functional Nutrition & Health Specialist
Who doesn’t like a comforting bowl of spaghetti with slow cooked marinara sauce and some fresh parmesan cheese?
While the occasional indulgence is okay, eating foods high in refined carbohydrates on a daily basis can take your blood sugar on a rollercoaster and lead to weight gain and other metabolic conditions.
However, there are now some delicious and healthier pasta alternatives that will allow you to enjoy your meatballs and sauce without feeling weighed down after.
Zucchini noodles have become increasingly popular with many health food stores now carrying them pre-packaged and ready to go. Zucchini noodles are made from raw zucchini which is turned into “noodles” using a vegetable peeler or spiralizer. They are a low calorie, low carb and low fat alternative to traditional pasta and are a good source of antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, which is crucial to maintaining the lining of your blood cells, hoping to lower blood pressure and protect against inflammation and clogged arteries. Zucchini’s high water content can help to ease digestive issues such as diverticulitis and IBS because of its ability to hydrate and provide essential electrolytes and nutrients. In addition, zucchini is a great source the fiber, pectin, which has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, lowering cholesterol, improving arterial health and reducing inflammation.
HOW TO EAT IT: We love zucchini noodles with pesto or sautéd with just a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. You can even try to make noodles from other vegetables such as carrots, beets and sweet potato.
Spaghetti squash gets its name because of the noodle-like strands that break away from the inner flesh once cooked. With just 7g of carbs (1/4 that of regular pasta), 1 gram of protein and 31 calories per cup, it is a great alternative to pasta for anyone trying to lose weight. However, there are many other benefits to this delicious vegetable too. Spaghetti squash is a great source of essential minerals such as calcium, potassium magnesium and phosphorus. It is also high in Vitamin A and C which can help fight inflammation and free radical damage to cells, as well as B vitamins to support proper cellular function. Folate one of the most important B Vitamins for women who are pregnant can help to prevent birth defects and support proper cell development. To support eye health, spaghetti squash is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin which are linked to healthy vision. This squash is also a great source of fiber which can help to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol.
HOW TO EAT IT: Spaghetti squash has a mildly sweet flavor which isn’t too overpowering. It can be eaten hot or cold once cooked. We love it with a simple marinara or meat sauce and fresh basil or in this Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
Shirataki noodles are gluten-free, soy-free, vegan and zero calories. Yes, you heard right. Zero calories. Made from the root of a the Konjac plant grown in various parts of Asia, it mainly consists of soluble fiber called glucomannan. Fiber has been shown to have many benefits including promoting satiety and managing appetite, improving cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar and helping to feed the good gut bacteria. However, because there isn’t much nutritive value in Shirataki noodles, make sure you are including them as a part of an already healthy and balanced diet.
HOW TO EAT IT: We love to use Shiratake noodles as a low carb alternative to rice noodles in Asian style dishes such as this Skinny Chicken Pad Se Ew, but they’re also great in soups and stirred with vegetables!
Black Bean Pasta
Black bean pasta is a heartier and more filling alternative to traditional pasta. However, with it contains half the amount of carbs (23g vs 40g) and nearly four times the amount of protein (25g vs 7g). Black beans are an excellent and nutrient dense plant-based protein with a ton of fiber to keep you fuller longer. A 2 ounce serving contains 12 grams of fiber, 36% of your daily iron needs and only contains 180 calories. We love the brand Explore Cuisine as they not only have black bean pasta, but also edamame & mung bean pasta, chickpea pasta and adzuki bean pasta.
HOW TO EAT IT: Check out this mouth watering Mexican Black Bean Pasta recipe, top with some marinara sauce or use in place of soba noodles in Asian dishes.
Kelp noodles are made from kelp, a seaweed rich in important vitamins, minerals and iodine. They are naturally gluten-free, vegan and free of all common allergens. They are super low in both calories and carbs, however, a bit high in natural sodium, don’t overdo it on these. Kelp is full of vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zine and iron. It is also very high in iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid function and metabolism regulation however, too much of a good thing can cause health issues, so best to eat these noodles as a side dish or only a few days a week.
HOW TO EAT IT: Kelp noodles are great in cold or room temperatures salads, warm soups, sushi or lettuce wraps.
Bonus Tip: Looking for recipe inspiration? Head on over to Pinterest and simply put in an ingredient that you want to find recipes for and check out the collection of delicious recipes that updates daily!
Want to lose weight while still loving the food you eat? At PHASE IV, we believe getting healthy should be an enjoyable experience, free of strict rules and deprivation. Schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Nutrition Specialists today. Call us at 310-582-8212.