A Low-Carb Alternative to Pasta

By G.D. Palmer

Pastas such as spaghetti and udon are a filling, appealing component of many dishes. They can be a problem for low-carb dieters, however. Whether you watch your carbohydrate intake for health reasons or because you're hoping to reduce your weight, giving up pasta can be hard. Low-carbohydrate substitutes based on vegetables might be the solution that helps you get your pasta fix while sticking to your diet.

Fantastic Fresh Vegetable Pastas

Fresh vegetables cut into pasta shapes can give you the same feel as spaghetti or fettuccine without the carbohydrates. Try cutting fresh squash like zucchini or acorn squash into strips or spirals. Steam them gently, then toss with sauce like wheat-based pasta. You can also use beets, cabbage, sweet potatoes, eggplant and the stringy interior of cooked spaghetti squash as pasta substitutes. These vegetables do contain carbohydrates, but they have far fewer and much more fiber than most white pastas.

Shirataki from Japan

If you need to keep your carbohydrate intake very low, but you still want the feel of pasta in your meals, consider shirataki. Also known as konnyaku or konjac, these translucent noodles are made from a type of yam and have no carbohydrates and almost no calories. Despite these properties, shirataki can still fill you up. Conventional shirataki noodles have virtually no flavor, so it's important to choose a tasty sauce to go with them. Tofu shirataki noodles include some soy-based tofu, which raises the carbohydrate level to 3 grams per serving. No matter which kind of shirataki you choose, be aware that these noodles won't have the same texture as pasta. Also keep in mind that this food offers no nutritional value -- zero carbs, zero calories, zero vitamins -- so you will want to pair it with nutritious protein, dairy and vegetables.

Keeping It Low-carb with Kelp

Kelp noodles are harvested from a type of seaweed. They contain very low carbohydrate levels at about 1 gram per serving from fiber. Kelp noodles come in two forms: a processed version that is white or very light green, and a darker version made up of frozen kelp strips. The less-processed noodles have a green bean-like flavor, according to the Boston Globe, while the lighter version tends to take on the flavor of paired ingredients.

Beneficial Bean Noodles

If you're controlling your carbohydrate intake but are still allowed to consume some starches, you may benefit from bean-based pastas. One version, made from black soybeans, contains 17 grams of carbohydrate per 2-ounce serving, 12 of which come from fiber. This pasta has a very chewy texture when completely cooked, but it contains plenty of protein and no wheat gluten.

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