Summer Squash "Pasta" Ribbons

An Easy Low-Carb Pasta Substitute

Squash pasta substitute ribbons and noodles. Elizabeth Woolley

Pasta is one of the hard-to-avoid and hard-to-limit foods when you are trying to control carbohydrates with type 2 diabetes. Traditional pasta, made from some combination of all purpose flour (white flour) and semolina flour is considered a refined carbohydrate and although it tastes great, can often result in high blood sugars in people with diabetes. If you are looking to boost your nutrition, lower your carbohydrate intake, increase your fiber intake and take on the flavor of your favorite sauce, you might want to consider using a pasta substitute.

Yellow summer squash is an excellent non-starchy vegetable choice that is surprisingly tasty as a pasta substitute. Yellow squash is a healthy food that provides vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, dietary fiber, and folate.

Nutritional Information:

One cup of sliced yellow squash contains about: 18 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams sugar, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, and 1 gram of protein. 

One cup of cooked pasta contains about: 221 calories, 1.3 g fat, .8 g sugar, 43 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, and 8 g protein. 

By choosing summer squash instead of regular pasta you could save about 40 g of carbohydrate and more than 200 calories. 

How to Make Squash Pasta Substitute Ribbons or Noodles with a Potato Peeler


1. Wash the yellow summer squash.

2. According to your personal taste, you can use or discard the outer peel. Peel and discard the outer peel if you choose to do this.

3. Place the squash on a cutting board and start to peel the squash lengthwise to the desired width, making long ribbons. You can control the width by slightly rotating the squash after each peel and peeling the next new surface.

4. Try to avoid the seeds in the center as strips with too many seeds will be mushy.

Discard the seed center, throw it in the compost pile, or eat it.

5. If you choose to make smaller noodles you can slice the peel ribbons with a knife into thin noodle strips or use a julienne peeler. Julienne peelers make beautiful, perfect noodles.

How to Cook Yellow Squash 

You can either use the ribbons or noodles as-is or lightly salt the strips, and allow them to cook over low heat in a small amount of oil, covered in a pan or pot for 30 minutes. This will also decrease the amount of moisture that is released. Of all the methods suggested below, I personally prefer to saute until they are al dente (cooked but still a little firm and chewy). Try your pasta substitute with your favorite sauce or seasonings. When choosing a sauce, aim to avoid heavy, creamy sauces as these types of sauces are typically high in calories and saturated fat.  

Some options for cooking include:

  • Use the strips raw
  • Blanch in hot salted water
  • Boil for up to 1 minute in hot salted water and then blanch in cold water
  • Saute with a little olive oil or cooking spray

Here's an example squash recipe:

Teriyaki Squash Pasta with Pumpkin Seeds

Other Low-Carb "Pasta" Substitutes:

If you want to experiment with other non-starchy vegetables, you can also make zucchini pasta or spaghetti squash

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