A low-refined-carbohydrate diet is the healthiest diet for anyone, especially for those trying to lose weight and diabetics.
White refined flour wreaks havoc on our systems because it is stripped of nutrients, often bleached to give it a white color, and does not resemble the original grains our ancestors consumed.
Think of white flour as practically sugar in your body. It is best to avoid it and opt for healthier options for your carbohydrate sources. You may think you have to avoid high-carbohydrate foods such as pasta when following a low-carb diet. However, there are countless refined-carb swaps and recipes to help you stick to a low-refined-carbohydrate diet. Check out these pasta alternatives that won’t make you miss refined carbs.
Replace pasta with veggies
Using vegetables in place of pasta is the healthiest way to consume pasta. There are vegetables available that have an ideal consistency and taste to swap for pasta. I would suggest investing in a vegetable spiralizer, which is an inexpensive tool that turns vegetables into faux noodles. Some of the best vegetables for spiraling into noodles are zucchini, carrots, squash and sweet potato.
Look for refined-carbohydrate-free pasta substitutes available at most grocery stores. The market is saturated with a variety of pasta substitutes that are white, flour-free, packed with fiber, highly nutritious and can be used in your favorite pasta recipes.
The following are a few of my favorite refined-carbohydrate-free pasta brands: Banza chickpea pasta, Ezekiel-sprouted grain pasta, Tinkyada brown-rice pasta, POW! pasta, Ancient Harvest, and Barilla gluten-free pastas (chickpea and lentil pastas).
Substitute healthier carbs for pasta
Try swapping out white-flour pasta in your recipe for healthier carbohydrate options such as quinoa, brown rice and riced cauliflower.
Replace pasta with ancient-grain wheat
A whole grain contains the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Each part provides different nutrients such as vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals that contribute to the health-promoting benefits of whole grains.
Without the whole seed intact, many nutrients are lost. Today, we can separate the bran and germ from the endosperm, where most of the starchy carbs are contained. Refined grains are mainly composed of only the endosperm portion of the grain which leads to a higher blood-sugar spike. Additionally, when wheat is refined, the bran, which aids in digestion, has been removed.
Ancient grains have never been processed through hybridization or genetic modification; They’re grown just as they were hundreds of years ago. They offer more protein, fiber and vitamins than modern grains.
Examples of ancient grains include einkorn, emmer/faro, kamut and spelt in the wheat family. Non-wheat ancient grains include sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa and amaranth.
Zoodle (zucchini noodle) pasta
1 large zucchini
2 tablespoon grass-fed butter
2-3 large cloves garlic minced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cooked, grilled chicken strips
Cut the ends of the zucchini and spiralize into thin noodles using a spiralizer. Heat butter and garlic in large pan on medium-high heat. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the zucchini noodles and grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1-2 minutes or just until the zoodles are tender or al dente. Be careful not to overcook the noodles or they will become mushy. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Top pasta with cooked, grilled chicken strips.
Mandy Nix of Healing Nutrtion LLC in Morganton is a registered dietitian who writes nutrition columns for The News Herald.
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