Coiled vegetables, seaweed, and bean sprouts are low-carb alternatives to pasta. These substitutes have the added benefits of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Some people avoid pasta because it is high in carbohydrates or because it contains gluten. Others find that pasta makes them feel bloated or tired.
Overeating pasta can lead to weight gain. Whole wheat pasta can contain a little more fiber than white pasta. However, both have significant calories and carbohydrates that can raise blood sugar levels. On average, a 100g serving of cooked pasta would contain around 160 calories and 30g of carbohydrates.
This article lists different pasta alternatives and their nutritional content. It also explains how to prepare and use them.
People can either spiralize zucchini or use a peeler to cut them into ribbons. Leaving the skin on it adds fiber, but people should wash it first. Eat the raw or lightly steamed zucchini noodles with a tomato sauce.
Zucchini noodles are a popular substitute for spaghetti for those who prefer a low-carb meal. With 2.7 to 3.5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g serving, zucchini contains less than 10% of the calories in regular pasta.
A spiralizer makes carrot noodles that a person can eat raw or lightly steamed with a preferred noodle sauce. Pulping walnuts and nutritional yeast together to resemble Parmesan cheese can make a nutritious, tasty topping for the sauce. It would also be suitable for a vegan diet.
Carrots contain 9.58 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams and are an excellent source of beta-carotene and fiber.
Learn more about the health benefits of carrots.
Butternut squash slices are a low-carb substitute for traditional lasagne sheets. The butternut squash can be thinly sliced and baked in a bowl with lasagna sauces.
Baked butternut squash contains a third of the carbohydrates found in regular pasta. This pasta alternative has the added benefits of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Learn more about butternut squash.
As the name suggests, spaghetti squash is an excellent substitute for spaghetti. People can bake or boil the pumpkin and then use a fork to separate the meat into spaghetti-like strands. You can top the pumpkin with a sauce or dressing made from olive oil and use fresh herbs such as basil or parsley.
One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 9.7 grams of carbohydrates. Spaghetti squash is also a source of fiber, calcium, and vitamin A.
Sliced, raw eggplant can replace pasta in a lasagna. The aubergine bakes with the sauce and absorbs the flavors. Alternatively, a person can toast eggplant slices in olive oil before using them to layer the lasagna.
Eggplants are a low-carbohydrate alternative to regular lasagne sheets with 8.73 g of carbohydrates per 100 g.
Learn about the health benefits of eggplant.
Shirataki noodles are long white noodles made from a vegetable that comes from the konjac root. Other names for the noodles are konjac noodles or “miracle” noodles.
Rinsed noodles are easy to cook. Just add them to a heated pan for a few minutes. The noodles go well with Asian recipes or with noodle sauce.
Although some brands contain tofu or yam flour, the main ingredient in shirataki noodles is a fiber called glucomannan. A 2018 study suggests that glucomannan extract given to patients as part of a healthy diet that includes exercise may help some people lose weight. However, research on glucomannan is inconclusive, and there is no evidence that shirataki noodles help you lose weight.
Other health benefits related to glucomannan fiber such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure are currently being explored.
Shirataki noodles contain 2.68 g of carbohydrates per 100 g and are a low-carbohydrate alternative to noodles.
Seaweed is a seaweed or sea vegetable that some manufacturers use to make noodles. People can use rinsed seaweed noodles raw because they don’t need to be cooked. Some brands sell seaweed noodles with added ingredients such as green tea or other sea vegetables.
Seaweed contains 9.57 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams and is a source of minerals, including calcium, iodine, and magnesium.
Learn more about the health benefits of seaweed.
A person can serve sliced and steamed kale with pasta sauce as an alternative to pasta. It is lower in carbohydrates and a source of protein. People can also use a whole steamed cabbage leaf to wrap boiled beef or soy and chopped onions and top with a tomato sauce.
One cup of cooked cabbage contains 9.03 grams of carbohydrates compared to a cup of pasta bowls that are 32.4 grams. Cabbage is also a good source of beta-carotene, folic acid, and vitamin C.
Learn more about the health benefits of cabbage.
Cauliflower can replace pasta in a dish that calls for rice or couscous. A person can hand grate or chop the cauliflower, or use a food processor. Lightly steam or sauté the cauliflower, then add the vegetables and spices. People can also use cauliflower to make a pizza base and add a tomato topping. Frozen cauliflower products ready to be steamed or microwaved can replace rice, couscous, or pizza crust in recipes.
100 g of fresh cauliflower contain 5.16 g of carbohydrates, 84% less than normal noodles. Cauliflower also contains beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid. Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family, which contains sulfur compounds that research suggests may be beneficial to health.
Find out everything you need to know about cauliflower.
People can grow sprouts from raw mung beans or buy them from a grocery store. They should be kept in the refrigerator.
Occasionally, sprouts can cause disease, although a 1996-2016 study traced most outbreaks to alfalfa sprouts. Other sprouts in the study included sprouted chia powder, clover, and mung beans. The three most common pathogens were Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Listeria.
Mung bean sprouts are low in carbohydrates and contain only 5.88 g of carbohydrates per 100 g.
They have the added benefit of having vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. They work well in Asian recipes.
Learn more about the health benefits of mung beans.
People can use vegetables like spaghetti squash, zucchini, and cabbage in place of regular pasta. You can also use seaweed noodles or bean sprouts. These low-carb substitutes contain additional beneficial nutrients and fiber that can help balance a person’s blood sugar.
Using pasta alternatives allows people who opt for a low-carb diet or who cannot tolerate gluten to enjoy their favorite recipes. The alternatives are often easy to prepare, and some go well with dishes like spaghetti bolognese and lasagna.