How to Pass on Pasta (and Never Miss It!)

Posted On Mar 29, 2016 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

How to Pass on Pasta (and Never Miss It!)

You don't have to banish pasta (except for huge plates of creamy alfredo) from your diet to lose weight or be healthy, but you can significantly cut calories and add in fiber and other vitamins and minerals by replacing the standard flour noodles, even the whole-wheat variety, with vegetables. This is also a great way to get picky eaters to eat more vegetables, serve the same meal for people who are gluten-intolerant or sensitive, and much tastier than the zero calorie noodles products out there and brown-rice flour pasta. So get out your vegetable peeler or Veggetti Spiralizer! Here are my favorite pasta alternatives:

Spaghetti Squash

Thanks to an awesome recipe for spaghetti squash chow mein, I've changed my mind about the stringy fiber-rich, Vitamin A-packed yellow vegetable recently. I added strips of grilled pork loin and shelled edamame for extra protein. You can also use it to replace spaghetti noodles with marinara sauce or top with chicken parmesan.


Zucchini noodles or ribbons can be used in any pasta dish from lasagna to mixing with pesto and grilled chicken for a quick week-night meal or lunch. Simply steam or sauté the zucchini after making it into the shape of your choice and then mix with sauce and toppings. Zucchini also works well with Asian stir-fry dishes.

The table below shows the calorie savings from replacing traditional pasta noodles with a squash alternative. Not to mention the other vitamins and minerals you get from the extra dose of vegetables including Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

Nutritional Comparison

(can vary from brand to brand)
Type of Noodle Calories per 1 cup Serving Grams of Fiber Grams of Protein
White Flour Pasta 220 2g 8g
Whole-Wheat Pasta 175 4g 7.5g
Spaghetti Squash 42 2g 1g
Zucchini 30 2.5g 1g

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