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5 Low-Carb Alternatives To Pasta

Everyone loves a good, hearty bowl of pasta. But everyone also knows that if you’re trying to lose weight or looking to keep the carbs at bay, a big bowl of pasta isn’t really going to be your best friend!

But just because you’re making some more considered changes to your diet doesn’t mean losing out on a good old bowl of comfort food—all you need to do is switch all that starchy pasta for something a bit leaner and meaner. Do that, and you’ll be able to treat yourself to a hearty meal, without overloading on the carbs.

So with that in mind, here’s a CK Elite Top 5 of low-carb pasta alternatives. Some of them will be familiar, some of them will probably be really unfamiliar and will take a bit of rooting out at your local health food shop to track them down. But either way, they’re all worth tracking down and giving a try.

 

1. QUINOA

Until a few years ago, hardly anyone would have known anything about quinoa (least of all how to pronounce it!). But as we’ve all become more health conscious, quinoa has steadily grown in popularity to become a staple pasta- and rice-substitute found everywhere from café menus to your local supermarket shelves. To keep things low-carb, low-calorie and high-protein, try to track down whole-wheat quinoa and couscous—it might be a little more expensive, but it’s a change well worth making.

QUINOA

2. VEGETABLES

Okay, this might not sound like the most adventurous suggestion, but we’re not talking about switching your penne for potatoes or pouring your Bolognese over a bowl of boiled carrots! Instead, switching your spaghetti for noodles made from courgettes or squash is a great way of not only cutting the carbs from your meal, but adding one of your five-a-day without noticing much of a difference.

The trick with these is not to cook them too long: just a few minutes in boiling water will be enough to cook veggie noodles through while keeping a bit of bite, flavour, and, more importantly, all those nutrients in place. You can make your own vegetable noodles at home using a spiralizer, but these are so well known these days if you’re pushed for time you should be able to pick them up ready-cut from your local supermarket.

If you prefer your pasta shapes to pasta noodles, alternatively try cutting broccoli or cauliflower into narrow quick-to-cook strands and blanching those in boiling water for a low-calorie, health-filled alternative to penne.

vegetable pasta

3. CHICK PEA PASTA

If switching pasta for vegetables doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, try searching for pastas made from chick pea flour rather than white or wholemeal flour. These look, taste and cook exactly like ordinary pastas, but because they’re made from ground chick peas they’re packed with protein and fibre and comparatively low on carbs. The same goes for…

chick pea

4. BROWN RICE PASTA

…which is made from ground brown rice, rather than wheat. As a result it too is much lower in carbs than regular pasta, and a great source of protein and magnesium.

Both chick pea and brown rice pasta are secret weapons popular among veggies, vegans, and all those who need to follow gluten-free and other restricted diets—but that doesn’t mean that they’re benefits aren’t there for everyone!

Unfortunately one potential drawback here is that these two can be pricey, and sometimes difficult to track down; until a few years ago, you’d only find brown rice pasta online or in health food stores. But as time’s gone by, high street supermarkets have caught on and with a bit of shopping around you should be able to track these down fairly easily for a reasonable price.

brown rice pasta

5. SHIRATAKI NOODLES

At the least familiar end of these scale, these Asian noodles—sold in water-filled packets or sachets—are starting to creep into health shops thanks to a lot of dietary hype over in America. Over in the States, shirataki are better known as “miracle” noodles, for good reason: they contain absolutely no carbs, are almost zero-calorie, and in fact are 97% water by content.

SHIRATAKI NOODLES

On the one hand, that’s good news if you life to pile your plate high and indulge. On the other, besides a little dietary fibre and polysaccharide called glucomannan (the health benefits of which suggest it might aid weight loss), these carry virtually no nutritional value all at. But if you’re looking for a guilt-free alternative to a comforting bowl of spaghetti—so long as you pair them with something healthy!—this might be the choice for you.

Shirataki have divided health food fanatics for a while (not least because when they first slide out of their packet they can smell and look a bit off-putting, and if they’re not cooked correctly you can end up with a soggy white mess rather than a pile of tasty noodles…!). So be sure to rinse them really well with cold water before cooking, and then dry them in a hot pan—as if you’re pan frying them, with no oil at all—to get rid of as much moisture as possible. The more water you can get rid of in the cooking, the better the overall texture will be.

 

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