Succumb to your pasta craving even when you're on a low-carb or gluten-free diet by trying out these healthy alternatives to traditional pasta. Have a taste of these healthy recipes with a twist.
Pasta is one of the world’s favorite comfort food. It originated in Sicily, Italy around 1154 and is a type of noodle that’s typically made from durum wheat, water or eggs. It’s molded into different noodle shapes and cooked in boiling water.
The most popular type of pasta is refined pasta which has been linked to higher risks of heart disease, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance. It’s also higher in calories, carbs, B vitamins, and iron but lower in fiber and most other micronutrients.
Other types of pasta also contain gluten which can cause negative effects to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Fortunately, there are still many ways to enjoy your precious pasta even if you’re on a diet or choose to eat gluten-free. Check out the list below for healthy alternatives to traditional pasta.
1. Beet Ravioli
Beets are called a superfood for many reasons, and if you’re looking for a healthier way to make ravioli, you can try this vegetable instead of starch-filled pasta. All you have to do is slice the beets into thin rounds then marinate them in a bowl filled with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Let them marinate at least an hour, then place them on a plate, add a chunk of cheese or some other type of filling, then top it off with another beet slice.
- Low in fat and calories
- High in nutrients and fiber
- Beets can turn your urine and stools red
- They can be detrimental to those with copper or iron problems
2. Broccoli Salad
Broccoli salad is a popular find at potluck dinners, and there are many reasons why. Instead of a dressing made with mayo, try a vinegar-based dressing on your salad to make it tastier and healthier. It’s easy to make as well, and even easier to make your own recipe. Simply chop up the broccoli, red onions, and peppers, and season to taste. A little experimentation and you’re all set for a great dish!
- It is very healthy for you
- It is very simple to make and can be personalized to your taste
- Some people do not like the taste of broccoli
- Too much broccoli can sometimes cause digestive problems
If you love broccoli, a good broccoli salad is for you, and even if it’s a last-minute decision, it is easy to make and serve others.
3. Cabbage Spaghetti
One of the things that make regular pasta so unhealthy is a large number of carbs associated with this food, but substituting cabbage for the noodles can increase its nutritional value and its tastiness, too. You can slice your cabbage into thin strips and sauté the cabbage with a bit of oil until it is soft, but still a little crispy, then pour tomato sauce over it. Yummy!
- High in Vitamin C and high in fiber
- Has ingredients that act like expert antioxidants
- Can cause gastrointestinal problems
- It can interact with certain medications
In addition, you can choose either green or red cabbage for your recipes. Both are high in nutritional value, although red does tend to have a few more advantages than the green kind.
4. Eggplant Lasagna
A great choice for vegetarians, this type of lasagna is made like regular lasagna, only you substitute eggplant for the lasagna noodles. Eggplant has a lot of nutrients and fiber, and when cooked right, you won’t even know you’re not eating lasagna noodles. With lots of Vitamins B1 and B6, not to mention antioxidants, eggplant is the perfect vegetable for those who wish to eat healthier.
- Low in calories and fat
- Can protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and microbial infections
- In large quantities, it can cause gastrointestinal problems
- Can cause kidney and gallbladder problems if you eat too much of it
For the most part, you can personalize your eggplant lasagna recipe to make it as tasty as possible, but the nutritional value of this vegetable cannot be overstated.
Here is a simple and delicious eggplant lasagna recipe:
5. French Bean Pasta
French green beans are amazing, not only because of their nutritional value but also because of the many dishes you can make with them. For a pasta, all you have to do is sauté the beans with a touch of olive oil until they are soft, then coat them with either a pesto or tomato sauce. You can even add other items if you like, such as lentils or chickpeas.
- A great source of antioxidants and Vitamins A, C, and K
- Very simple to make and to personalize the recipe
- Green beans are not enjoyed by everyone
- You have to cook them a while to get them soft, meaning the pasta won’t be made quickly
Being a vegetable, there are really very few disadvantages to green beans, and if you’d like to try something unique and tasty, French bean pasta is one food you’ll love.
6. Mac and Cheese Cauliflower
If you love macaroni and cheese but hate the starchiness found in the macaroni noodles, you can use cauliflower instead. All you have to do is cut the vegetables into small pieces and either steam or boil them until they are soft. Next, just add whatever cheese you have and bake the dish in the oven. The cheese naturally adds calories to the dish, but the cauliflower is super healthy for you.
- Very low in calories and fat
- High in antioxidants and Vitamins B6, C, and K
- Can cause digestive problems if eaten too often
- In some instances, it can cause illnesses such as gout
Although cauliflower has a taste some people don’t like, once it’s baked and covered with cheese many of these same people may find they love it.
7. Quinoa Salad (Cold)
If you’ve never tried quinoa, starting with a salad might be the perfect way to start. Simply add ingredients such as onions, corn, broccoli, beans, or even fruit, along with an oil- or vinegar-based dressing, and some fresh herbs, and you have the perfect side dish or salad. It is easy to make the recipe your own because you can adjust what you put in there until it tastes just right for you.
- Filled with lots of protein and Vitamin B
- Low in calories so it can help you lose weight
- The texture may take some getting used to
- It can be a little carb-dense
The texture of quinoa is what makes some people hesitant to try it, but it is not difficult to get used to, and it is an absolutely delicious alternative to unhealthy, starch-heavy foods.
8. Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash looks just like it sounds. It is a squash that looks like spaghetti when raked with a fork because it comes out in thin strands. You can also cut the squash in half and roast it in the oven at 425 degrees until it gets soft, then sprinkle it with some olive oil and salt and pepper. After it is cool, you can scoop the flesh out and cover it with your favorite pasta sauce. Healthy and delicious, you may not even realize you’re not eating real pasta.
- Lower in fat and calories than regular pasta
- Filled with numerous vitamins and minerals
- Some squash is a little high in carbs
- It takes a very long time to boil spaghetti squash
9. Sweet Potato Pasta
There is no end to the nutritional advantages of eating sweet potatoes, so it is good news that you can eat this vegetable in place of pasta. You can use a potato peeler to make a wide noodle, and if you have coconut oil, go ahead and use that to cook and soften the potatoes. Before you pour the sauce over them, you can add other vegetables to the potatoes for an extra nutritional edge and bulk up the pasta itself.
- High in Vitamins, B6, C, and D, as well as iron and antioxidants
- Has a naturally sweet and delicious taste
- Depending on how they are cooked, sweet potatoes can have a high GI index
- The amount of oxalates in sweet potatoes makes it difficult for people with kidney or gallbladder problems
Sweet potatoes are loved by nearly everyone, so serving this vegetable as a pasta dish will make you one very popular cook.
10. Zucchini Pasta
The best part of making zucchini pasta is that you can eat it either warm or cold. Either way, you’ll get your fix for pasta without all of the empty carbs. Take a potato peeler and slice the zucchini, and you can even cut them into long pieces afterward if you wish. Cook it in a skillet with some olive oil, along with a tiny bit of water, then add your favorite herbs and spices.
- High in protein, vitamins, and fiber
- Protects the cardiovascular system
- Contains oxalates, which can cause gout if consumed in large quantities
- May not be good for those with gallbladder and kidney diseases
Zucchini is also a vegetable that a lot of people do not like, but if it is cooked right, it makes for a great pasta that nearly everyone will eat.