We all love pasta. It’s a worldwide comfort food. We also know, however, that although pasta tastes great, it isn’t the most nutritious food. It’s high in carbs, giving us a boost of energy, but those carbs are what you call empty carbs, delivering very little nutrition. As a Free Athlete, you are conscious of what you put into your body for fuel. To be at your best, you want to eat wisely. If pasta is a an unhealthy comfort food for you, check out these best energy-providing alternatives to swap for your spaghetti.
Lentils- These little gems are a nutritional all-star. They are a great source of healthy minerals like folate, phosphorus, and iron as well as energy boosting B vitamins. A delicious plate full of lentils will provide slow burning energy while keeping you full and stabilizing blood sugar levels. The dietary fiber in lentils, both soluble and insoluble, help to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Lentils provide energy with a good dose of iron and protein. Unlike pasta, lentils are a complex carb which is good for the heart, and are low in fat and calories, keeping you slim and trim.
Lentils come in a variety of colors but whichever color you choose, there are so many great ways to eat them. You can actually find pasta made from lentils. Just be sure to read the label and make sure it is lentil pasta and not pasta with a little lentils.
Spaghetti squash- This squash is called spaghetti squash because of its stringy yellow flesh that resembles spaghetti and makes a great alternative to pasta. You can substitute spaghetti squash for any of your spaghetti recipes.
Spaghetti squash is low in calories and almost fat free. It contains vitamin C and B vitamins, potassium and is a good source of fiber.
Beans- There are so many different kinds of beans. All of them are a great source of energy and a great alternative to pasta. Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and navy beans are all of similar texture and nutritional profile.
These beans are high in protein and fiber and contain plenty of iron and B vitamins as well as other minerals. A bowl of beans will keep you full and energetic for hours.
Another popular bean is soybeans, which are also knowns as edamame, or can be eaten in the form of tofu. Soybeans are higher in protein and also deliver a healthy dose of vitamin K, iron, folate and manganese. You can get tofu noodles too.
Quinoa- This food is an ancient superfood with plenty of nutrition to boast about. It’s one of the only plants that delivers all of the amino acids. This will help in your muscle building endeavors. Quinoa is a grain with lots of protein, fiber and seven different minerals. It also contains many of the B vitamins. It does contain carbs but is low in the glycemic index.
Zucchini- Zucchini has become a popular pasta alternative because it can easily be cut into long strips and substituted for spaghetti. It also soaks up the flavors of the sauce well but is very low calorie and low carb. Even though it is low carb, it has a high antioxidant content along with fiber and B-vitamins for energy boosting properties.
Eggplant- The taste profile of eggplant makes it great as a substitute for pasta in tomato based sauce recipes. Eggplant is high in fiber and B vitamins but is incredibly low in calories and low on the glycemic index. One of the best ways to use eggplant is to use it like lasagna noodles in your favorite lasagna dish. They hold up well and can easily be cut in wide thin layers.
Soba noodles- These are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. Buckwheat is seed grain manganese and Thiamin. It also contains plenty of energy from protein and keeps you full with soluble fiber. Soba noodles are low in fat and gluten free and obviously, since they are already shaped as a noodle, would work well as a pasta substitute.
As you can see by the choices above, you can easily get your pasta craving satisfied with a more nutritional food. Life is full of choices and you have plenty of choices for pasta substitutes. These seven foods above will give your body plenty of energy and lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and many also are a great source of protein. By making simple swaps in your diet, you can fuel your body and keep it healthy and fit.