Something I hear a lot from clients, friends, and family members is that they want to start eating healthier, but they will not give up their pasta!! People get pretty serious about their love for pasta and I’m not going to get in the middle of it unless asked! I’ll usually tell them that if they clean up the rest of their diet and fill most of their plates with veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats, then the occasional bowl of pasta won’t kill them. But, when their progress stalls and they’re looking for ways to improve their eating habits even further, I have some alternatives that might help!
I say alternatives because these recipes will not taste like pasta! They will look and feel sort of like pasta, but I don’t want you to expect the same taste. All I ask is that you keep an open mind and experiment with these alternatives that offer a lot more nutritional benefits than pasta, but can still be swirled around your spoon and slurped up like the real thing!
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti (Gourmet Nutrition)
Spaghetti squash, 4 cups
Coconut oil or butter (melted), 1 tbsp
Salt, ¼ tsp
Pepper, 2 pinches
Cinnamon, 2 pinches
Olive oil cooking spray
Ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef, 12 oz (340 g)
Onion (small diced), 1 cup
Tomato sauce, 2 cups
Cashews (crushed), ¼ cup
Parmesan cheese (grated), ½ cup
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut squash in half and clean out the center and seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil or butter. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and then place in the oven. Bake squash for 45 minutes or until tender enough to stick a fork into it with minimal resistance.* Remove from oven and allow it to cool a little. While the squash is baking, preheat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, lightly coat with spray and add the ground sirloin. Sauté the sirloin in batches if necessary, until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, add in the tomato sauce and cashews, and set aside. Once squash has cooled a little, scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon, measure and add it to the meat sauce. Next, reheat in the frying pan on medium until warm. Garnish with the parmesan. Serves 2 large or 4 small.
*Note: You can also speed up the process by microwaving the spaghetti squash. Place the cut sides down on top of a paper towel and cook on high for 8 minutes, then flip them over and place a damp paper towel over the flesh and cook on high for another 8 minutes!
Zucchini Noodles – Asian Peanut Sauce Noodle Bowl (PaleOMG.com)
1 pound ground pork (or turkey, beef, bison, etc.)
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium zucchinis, julienned into noodles then patted dry with paper towels for 10 minutes to soak up excess water (I use a julienne peeler, like this one.)
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
½ cup sunflower seed butter (or other nut butter)
¼ cup coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (or sriracha)
juice of ½ a lime
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
cashews, to garnish
In a large dutch oven or high rimmed sauté pan over medium-high heat, add ground pork, onion, red bell pepper and garlic cloves.
Use a wooden spoon to break up meat and cook down. Add a bit of salt and pepper along with ¼ tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Mix well and cook until no pink remains in the meat.
Once meat is cooked through, add zucchini noodles to the meat and cook on low for 5 minutes, mixing the noodles into the pork mixture. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to low.
Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Add coconut milk, sunflower seed butter, coconut aminos, chili sauce, lime juice, ¼ tablespoon red pepper flakes, and a bit of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Once sauce is smooth, reduce heat to low and let thicken for about 5 minutes. After sauce has reduced, pour sauce on noodle and pork mixture and mix well to combine. Serve noodle bowls with cashews garnished on top.
So, while these may not taste or even look exactly like the pasta you are used to, do me a favor and give them a try! You might find that they are a delicious alternative to one of your most beloved – albeit not very healthy – meals!