Pasta has saved my life more than once! Remember those days when you are exhausted and starving with no energy to cook? That’s when pasta comes in handy and makes things very easy.
However, these days, pasta can be difficult to find or use. And what if you don’t have any and still need to make a quick dinner? Don’t worry, you can still make your favorite homemade pasta meals, but using other alternatives.
What Is Pasta?
Pasta refers to the starch noodle that comes from wheat flour. This type of noodle is originally from Italy, but it has made its way elsewhere throughout the years. The dough is a mix of durum wheat and water, which can then be molded into different lengths, shapes, and sizes.
These days, there are many types of pasta—some of which are gluten-free, and others are high in protein or fiber. Pasta is traditionally served with tomato sauce, bolognese, or used in hot dishes, like lasagna.
You can find pasta anywhere, as it is very popular as a main dish, or as a side dish.
Why Replace Pasta, Anyway?
There are various reasons why someone would need to substitute pasta out of their diet. Here are some:
- Celiac disease: This chronic illness is a severe gluten allergy that causes various dangerous gastrointestinal side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding. People with Celiac must avoid gluten, which includes pasta.
- Gluten sensitivity: While this is not an allergy and not as severe as celiac disease, it is still common for people to experience bloating or discomfort after eating gluten.
- Low-carbohydrate diet: In this case, since pasta is very starchy, some individuals may find it unacceptable for their low-carbohydrate diets, especially for keto diet.
What Can I Replace Pasta With?
No matter why, if you need to find a replacement, these pasta substitutes will work well in plenty of recipes and meals:
For Mac and Cheese, Meatballs, and Lasagna
#1. Egg Noodles
While not gluten-free, this option works well when you need to replace pasta.
Egg noodles are made from wheat or semolina and eggs, and they are shaped much wider than pasta. The texture is also softer and absorbs sauce well, which is why they are commonly used as a side dish for stews.
You can buy egg noodles in any grocery or convenience store, but make sure you pick the width that makes more sense. Use the same amount of egg noodles, especially when making mac and cheese, meatballs, and even a deconstructed lasagna.
Not a traditional choice, but a healthy one, eggplant is a very thick vegetable that can lend itself to replace pasta in certain cases. You do need to cook eggplant for a while, especially because you need to remove the bitter flavor that comes off at first.
Use eggplant slices when making lasagna, baked pasta meals, and even as a replacement in meatball dishes. You can surely find eggplant in most grocery stores, but the organic supermarket will have it as well. Replace each layer of pasta for one big slice of eggplant.
#3. Chickpea Pasta
This option is not only gluten-free but also very nutritious. Chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so using this type of pasta can make your meal much healthier.
You can find chickpea pasta in many shapes, including penne, rotini, or spaghetti, so it lends itself to make mac and cheese, lasagna, meatballs, and more.
Finding chickpea pasta shouldn’t be a problem nowadays, as it is a popular healthy food. You can try the local grocery store or the organic supermarket. Use the same amount of pasta, but make sure you add more salt, and more water, as it is a bit tougher in texture.
For Soup, Low Carb Keto Diet, Diabetics, and Bolognese
#4. Spaghetti Squash
You may have seen what some people called “zoodles” in grocery stores. This choice is simply squash that has been spiralized into thin noodles resembling pasta. As you can imagine, because this is a healthy, high-fiber vegetable, this choice is low-fat and low-carb.
You can make your spaghetti squash at home easily by baking it and then separating it into strings, or you can buy it prepared in any grocery store. Use this choice if you follow a ketogenic diet, if you are diabetic, or when preparing soups, and even with bolognese sauce.
#5. Cauliflower Rice
As you may have guessed by the name, this is technically not pasta.
Cauliflower is a very nutritious vegetable, high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so it has become a popular stand-in for carbohydrates. Because it is plain in flavor and can be ground into a fine texture resembling rice, you can use it in many meals.
Buy ground cauliflower rice in the produce or frozen sections of your grocery store, or grind it at home using a blender or food processor.
You can use cauliflower rice instead of pasta when you want a low-fat option or if you are diabetic. Use it too when you cook bolognese or soup, and as a side dish.
#6. Shirataki Noodles
These long, wide noodles are often called “miracle noodles,” and that’s because they have essentially no fat and no calories.
Shirataki is made from a type of fiber called glucomannan from the konjac plant. This is a type of soluble fiber, making it extra healthy, and helping your digestion as well.
You can pretty much use these noodles as you would any others, though they lack flavor, so make sure to season well. Finding shirataki noodles may be a bit more difficult, but try a health store, an organic market, or go online.
Use these low-fat and low-carb noodles if you have diabetes or if you are following a keto diet, and when cooking soups, bolognese, or any other sauces.
Yes, there are some low-carb options for those that are following a ketogenic diet. Use spaghetti squash, vegetable noodles, eggplant, cauliflower, or shirataki noodles without having to spoil your diet.
These days many kinds of pasta are lower in carbohydrates, some include chickpea, lentil, almond flour, black bean, edamame, and quinoa. You can search for the adequate one in the organic section of most grocery stores, as these are usually gluten-free and healthy.
While a bit of pasta now and then isn’t bad, it is a starchy food, thus it can raise blood sugar, make you gain weight, and deposit more fat. You should always try to balance how many carbohydrates you eat, and pasta is just another one. If you want to follow a low-carb diet, try one of these substitutes or cut the amount of pasta you prepare.
Pasta is a staple in almost every household. However, many diets these days prevent people from enjoying this starchy food, so it makes sense to find other options. These substitutes for pasta are all easy to use and find, and will result in delicious flavor without the guilt. If you want to store cooked pasta, check this guide how to freeze cooked pasta.
Up Next: Does Pasta Go Bad?
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