Exploring Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives [The Dietitian’s List]
Craving pasta but watching your carb intake? Often, when people think of low-carb pasta, many think it’s unpleasant-tasting and boring.
But it doesn’t have to be. It’s just a matter of finding the flavor and consistency you prefer.
In this blog post, we’ll explore a variety of delicious and satisfying low-carb pasta alternatives. From vegetable spirals to shirataki noodles, we’ll show you how to enjoy your favorite pasta dishes guilt-free. Get ready to dive into a world of flavor and healthier options.
Butternut Squash Noodles
Noodles made from butternut squash are an excellent way to change up your typical pasta without compromising taste or health.
Butternut squash is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, which is vital for strong immunity. It maintains a lower-calorie, lower-carb content in comparison to pasta while holding a great amount of fiber.
Its taste is slightly sweet and nutty yet more subtle than a whole butternut squash. Because it’s so versatile and mild in flavor, it can be used to make many different recipes.
Here is a list of 20 butternut squash noodle recipes that you won’t ever get bored with. The options are endless!
Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)
Zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles, have become one of the most popular rice and pasta alternatives.
Naturally low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free, zoodles are simply spiralized zucchini that make them look like pasta—but without all the calories and carbs!
Zucchini is also high in fiber and has a high water content, which is great for hydration.
You can buy zucchini and spiralize them on your own or buy zoodles already pre-packaged at many supermarkets.
If you’re ready to cook, here are 30 zoodle recipes you won’t regret trying!
Spaghetti made from squash is an extremely popular pasta alternative due to its versatility as a vegetable.
After cooking the squash, you will see that the inside forms spaghetti-like strands—thus the name.
Spaghetti squash is low in carbs, calories, and fat but high in fiber. That makes it a great choice for those looking to lose weight or simply maintain healthy eating habits.
Shirataki noodles are a gluten-free, low-calorie, low-carb alternative to rice and pasta you can use in many dishes. These noodles originate from the konjac plant’s root, which has soluble fiber.
The soluble fiber can be helpful in feeling full and satisfied and also has prebiotic qualities, meaning it supports gut health.
These low-calorie noodles do not have a strong taste, but you can rinse them before cooking to remove their odor.
Once they are rinsed, all they require is a few minutes of boiling and drying, and they are ready to be used in your favorite dish!
If you’re looking for a way to cook a variety of cuisines with this healthy rice alternative, here are 20 shirataki noodle recipes that range from Italian and American to Asian.
Kelp noodles* are transparent, crispy, and crunchy noodles made from kelp seaweed. They are a staple in Asian cuisine and are becoming extremely popular in the United States as well for their delicious texture, flavor, and nutritional benefits.
These noodles are low-carb, low-calorie, gluten-free, and full of vitamins and minerals. Because they remain crunchy even after cooking, they add a unique texture to any dish!
Try this delicious Asian sesame chicken kelp noodle recipe.
Palmini pasta is made from hearts of palm, a vegetable native to South America.
One serving of this low-calorie pasta alternative contains only 20 calories and 2g of net carbs.
The taste of Palmini is slightly sweet and mild. The texture is different from pasta, which will make the dish lighter.
If you want to give it a try, this easy-to-make Palmini dish will definitely satisfy your carb cravings.
Also, if you love to make lasagna but don’t want to consume excess carbs, Palmini has low-carb lasagna sheets, as well!
You can find Palmini in health food stores and online stores such as Amazon*.
Pro tip: It is not required, but Palmini is often soaked in milk or water for 20-30 minutes prior to cooking. This can make cooking the noodles faster and improves the flavor.
People enjoy edamame pasta because it has a good taste, enjoyable texture, and provides many beneficial nutrients.
One cup of edamame noodles has 13.8g of carbs, 8 grams of fiber, and a whopping 18 grams of protein, making it very satisfying.
While edamame is higher in carbohydrates than vegetable-based alternatives, it’s much lower than traditional pasta. It also has a large amount of fiber, which makes the net carbs lower.
It’s also perfect for a meatless meal!
Pro tip: Edamame noodles go extremely well with Asian flavors. Try this Asian crunchy edamame spaghetti. You won’t regret it.
Cabbage noodles are a low-carb alternative to pasta made from shredded cabbage.
It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor with a delicious crispy, crunchy texture.
Cabbage noodles are extremely nutritious; they are low in calories and carbs while maintaining a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium.
Pro tip: In order to save some time and make your cooking easier, buy your cabbage already shredded. That way, you can simply throw it in a pan and cook it with some oil and your desired seasonings until tender!
This recipe for cabbage noodles includes how to cut and cook this alternative to pasta.
Can you mix regular pasta and low-carb pasta?
Yes, you can mix regular and low-carb pasta. For example, you could use half regular spaghetti and half spaghetti squash for a dish with more flavor complexity.
Mixing both can help reduce overall carbohydrates and add more fiber to your dish—a win-win situation.
This can help you feel more satisfied for longer while still enjoying a delicious meal.
What are the best sauces for low-carb pasta?
There’s no limit! Treat your low-carb pasta the same as regular when it comes to sauces. In other words, marinara, pesto, and arrabbiata are all excellent choices to pair your low-carb alternatives with!
For weight loss and more nutrition, use sauces that are vegetable-based, such as marinara sauce.
For keto dieters, pesto and arrabbiata sauce are your best bet for keeping carbs low while still enjoying a flavorful dish.
Does low-carb pasta taste the same as regular pasta?
No, low-carb pasta does not taste the same as regular does. Low-carb versions are usually made with alternative ingredients that may have a different texture and flavor than regular pasta. For example, many low-carb varieties are made with vegetables or legumes rather than wheat or semolina flour. This gives them a lighter texture and slightly different flavor.
The good news is that low-carb pasta can be delicious in its own right—it just takes some getting used to! With the right sauce, seasonings, and cooking techniques, you can create a tasty meal with low-carb pasta that will satisfy your cravings.
Is chickpea pasta considered low-carb?
Contrary to popular belief, chickpea pasta is not really considered low-carb by nature as chickpeas are high in carbs. However, it is a lower-carb option in comparison to other traditional pasta. It’s also higher in fiber.
Pro tip: Try mixing your chickpea pasta with some veggies to boost the fiber content and lower the overall net carb content.
The Bottom Line
Low-carb pasta alternatives are a great way to reduce your carb intake while still enjoying the taste of traditional dishes. From Palmini noodles made from palm hearts to edamame spaghetti and shirataki noodles, there is something for everyone.
Each one on this list has its own unique flavor and texture that can provide you with essential nutrients without all the carbs. With so many options available, it’s easy to find low-carb pasta dishes that will keep both your tastebuds and waistline happy.
Mix these pasta alternatives with delicious sauces and toppings to fully embrace the flavor and add more nutrients.
While some of these alternatives may not taste exactly like pasta, they are an excellent way to boost fiber and nutrients.
Try a pasta alternative this week!
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.