Digging into a big bowl of pasta or a loaded baked potato tastes great in the moment, but doesn’t feel so wonderful after, especially when you consider all the empty calories you just consumed. As good as carbohydrates and starches taste, they’re not always the best option for a light and fresh diet because they contain a very low level of nutrients.
Luckily, there are many ways you can avoid using pasta and starches without sacrificing flavor. With some simple swaps, you can enjoy your favorite dishes without the guilt. Here are some clever substitutes to try:
If you’re looking to reduce the amount of carbs and starches in your diet, a spiralizer is your new best friend. This helpful appliance quickly and effortlessly transforms vegetables into long, thin, spaghetti-like “noodles.” You can then cook these veggie noodles with sauce, cheese and other typical pasta ingredient for a great-tasting and light dish. Zucchinis make a smart substitute for traditional pasta – just spiralize a zucchini, then add to a pan with oil over medium heat. Add a light tomato or cream sauce, toss to coat with noodles, then transfer to a bowl and enjoy. Spaghetti squash is a healthy substitute for pasta.
There are many vegetables you can spiralize to use as a pasta substitute, but another fantastic option is spaghetti squash. This delicious variety of squash is well-known for being a substitute for pasta because its thin strands not only look like spaghetti, but also because its mild taste almost resembles that of pasta. Spaghetti squash is also a good substitute for traditional pasta because it is chock-full of important nutrients, containing high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, according to Mercola. To prepare spaghetti squash, first wash the whole squash and poke holes in the sides with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes or until tender. Cut in half lengthwise, then, after discarding the pulp and seeds, use a fork to “rake” the flesh into a bowl to create the “spaghetti.” Add to a pan, stir in sauce and serve for a delicious and nutritious dinner. Don’t stop with just pasta dishes, however – you can also substitute spaghetti squash and spiralized vegetables for noodles in stir-fries and pasta salads.
Loaded zucchini skins
A plate of crispy, salty potato skins piled high with cheese, bacon bits and sour cream is definitely indulgent, but you can make a lighter version of the tasty appetizer by swapping the potatoes for zucchinis, recommended the blog Mostly Homemade Mom. Just slice a zucchini in half lengthwise so you have four pieces. Scoop out the white part of the zucchini, then top with bacon bits, cheese and green onions. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, then serve with sour cream or ranch dressing.
Cauliflower mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a classic comfort food, but with all the butter, cream and salt the side dish contains, it’s not such an all-star when it comes to your diet. Instead, swap the spuds for cauliflower for an equally tasty but much more nutritious take on mashed potatoes. Try this easy recipe from the clean eating blog iFoodReal:
Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
3-pound cauliflower head
2 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Separate cauliflower into florets and cut in smaller chunks.
2. In a medium pot, combine cauliflower, garlic and enough cold water to cover the florets. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
3. Add butter or olive oil, salt and ground black pepper to taste.
4. Add mixture to a food processor and combine until smooth and fluffy. Serve hot.
Swap the spuds for cauliflower for a healthier version of mashed potatoes.