Low-Carb Ways to Satisfy a Pasta Craving

Hungry Girl's Spaghetti Swap & Meatballs for Two
Courtesy of Hungry-Girl.com

Watching your calories and carbs doesn't mean you can't get a pasta fix. There are plenty of lower carb alternatives to regular noodles. 

Spaghetti Squash

This one might be a no-brainer, since spaghetti is in the name, but it's still greatly underappreciated. You can bake it until soft, or even nuke it in the microwave for a fast fix. Then just scrape out the noodle-like strands with a fork. A cup of the cooked strands has only about 40 calories.

Spaghetti squash is full of fiber and other nutrients, and it's incredibly versatile — fantastic with low-fat marinara, pesto, or cheese sauce. It's even good simply tossed with a little light butter and topped with grated Parm.

House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodle Substitute

I've been a big fan of this soy-based swap for years. You can eat an entire bag of noodles for just 20 calories. (Yes, you read that right!) Ounce for ounce, regular pasta contains 10 times as many calories. You do need to drain and rinse Tofu Shirataki thoroughly (It comes floating in liquid), but it's absolutely worth the effort. And these noodles don't require any cooking; they just need to be heated. You can stir-fry them, or just toss 'em in the microwave (blot excess liquid, if you do). Bonus? They come in a variety of shapes: spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine... even macaroni. Here's a tip, though: Don't confuse Tofu Shirataki with regular shirataki noodles.

The added tofu really improves the texture.

Eggplant

Surprised to see eggplant on this list? Well, when you're craving lasagna without the starchy carbs, eggplant is your best bet. Cut it lengthwise, soften it up in a skillet, and replace some (or all) of your lasagna noodles with the slices. The result is a towering serving of lasagna with a fraction of the calories.

To keep your lasagna low in fat, use light cheeses and low-fat sauce.

Zucchini

Zucchini ribbons are an amazing fettuccine alternative. Here's how to make them: Use a vegetable peeler to peel zucchini lengthwise into super-thin strips, rotating zucchini around as you go — and you've got noodles! Since zucchini is a summer squash, this swap is perfect in picnic-ready pasta salads.

Broccoli Cole Slaw

Broccoli cole slaw is a blend of shredded broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage. It's packed with vitamins and high in fiber. And get this: You can eat four cups of it for about 100 calories. Just steam it in the microwave or cook it in a skillet with a little water. I like it with low-fat marinara sauce or seasoned-up canned crushed tomatoes. It's also great in saucy stir-frys.

Bean Sprouts

If you're into Asian-style noodle dishes, bean sprouts are the perfect swap for you. They tend to take on the taste of whatever they're cooked with — add soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to impart major flavor. Like broccoli slaw, these can be cooked in the microwave or a skillet.

Each cup of raw sprouts has about 30 calories. They cook down to about half the volume, so start with a few cups. Make sure to mix it up with Tofu Shirataki, too.


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