You may or may not know this about me…but I love pasta. Like, I could literally eat it for every meal, every day. Sometimes I do. It happens
But on the flip side, I’m almost thirty and my metabolism has decided that I can’t eat pasta for every meal every day. It’s a shame really but it’s something I have to deal with. (how dramatic am I???)
Soooo as much as it pains me, I started trying new pasta alternatives and swaps to fill my Italian cravings but keep my digestive system and body happy. And before I dive into these recs, let me just go ahead and tell you that I still eat good ole carby pasta every now and then. I’m a firm believer in not starving yourself or putting too harsh of restrictions on your diet. I do try to keep my regular-pasta intake to meals at restaurants and then when I’m cooking at home, I’ll turn to one of these alternatives. It’s all about balance people and seriously, life is too short to deny yourself of a good lasagna or angel hair agio e olio.
When it comes to finding alternatives or good products to swap out for your pasta dishes, that part is pretty easy. There are so many options out there now and I feel like I keep hearing of new ones or seeing creative alternatives on Instagram. For me, the problem stems from the preparation and flavor. So, I decided to not only share some of my favorite swaps but also a few tips for making them actually taste good. Let’s dig in!
BANZA CHICKPEA PASTA
aka your favorite pasta’s healthier, more fiber + protein packed, twin
Why I love it: this has been the closest alternative I’ve tried that truly hits that pasta craving. While boxed noodles of a healthier variety are nothing new )brown rice, whole wheat, etc.), the difference with Banza is that the noodles are made from chickpeas. Each serving has 25g protein + 13g fiber…double the amount from your regular pasta which meansBanza is better for you, keeps you full longer and actually tastes like noodles.
How to make it taste good: warning, the texture of this chickpea pasta can throw you a little bit and of course, it doesn’t taste like your regular penne. BUT, it’s something you can work with. I initially tried preparing my Banza noodles with olive oil, pepper, a little parmesan, and broccoli. It wasn’t good. I’ve found that the best way to enjoy this chickpea pasta option is by adding flavor with sauces. I love a good homemade red pepper pesto sauce: basil + roasted red peppers + olive oil + pine nuts + blend until creamy (add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes for extra oomph). If you’re in a rush, you can add a little vodka or marinara sauce (love this brand). The key is to use sauces that have tons of flavor to carry the lack of flavor in the noodles
aka the hero’s choice (cutting this in half takes real strength)
Why I love it: if you love angel hair pasta, this is for you. Unlike Banza, this isn’t pasta at all. It’s a vegetable. Surprise. And honestly, this is probably nothing new to you but I had to include it in my roundup because it’s one of my favorite pasta alternatives. I love the thin, almost al dente texture and the fact that you’re literally eating a veggie but tricking you mind to fill a pasta craving…well that’s awesome
How to make it taste good: this is one of the few alternatives that I think works pretty much every way. For a super simple meal, I’ll toss the cooked spaghetti squash “noodles” in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and bacon bits for a faux carbonara (minus the egg). I also love topping the plain “noodles” with a basil pesto (trader joes has an awesome vegan one) and shrimp. Another fun way to prepare spaghetti squash is in a casserole-type dish. Toss the “noodles” with marinara, ground turkey and parmesan. Add to a casserole dish and top with mozzerella cheese then bake. So. Good.
TRADER JOES CARROT SPIRALS
aka not your momma’s carrots
Why I love it: pro tip – buy these in bulk. They’re that good and almost always sold out when I go to my local TJs. These are exactly what they sound like – carrot “noodles”. I hate zucchini spirals. I’ve tried them and just can’t get on board. Carrot spirals, however, are bomb. This version I love is from the frozen section at Trader Joes and they are so easy to prepare. Literally, toss them in a little olive oil in a skillet and cook/saute until warmed all the way through. They’re full of the nutrients, have a great al dente texture and are the perfect alternative to spaghetti or linguini.
How to make it taste good: I love adding my homemade red pepper pesto sauce + ground Italian turkey sausage to the “noodles” for an easy lunch option. Because these are just carrots, if you want to fill that pasta craving, you’ve got to get creative with the sauces and preparation. I’ve been dying to try a vegan alfredo sauce + chicken combo and will definitely report back!
aka this one might really surprise you
Why I love it: Edamame noodles really surprised me. I’ve only tried these a few times but they are a really yummy alternative to pasta. These noodles are full of plant-based protein and are pretty easy to cook.
How to make it taste good: I love these with a simple olive oil or arugula pesto sauce. Topp with grilled chicken or a yummy chick sausage + bell pepper combo and you’ve got the perfect light meal.
Have you tried any of these? Would you want to see actual recipes? Sound off below!