It doesn’t matter if it’s spaghetti with marinara, meatballs, puttanesca, pesto, clam, or another sauce. No matter how you serve it, people love their pasta. But what about pasta alternatives? Do you know how to make zoodles (zucchini noodles) or another vegetable based pasta?
The problem is, spaghetti and its relatives have around 200 calories per cup. And if you eat as much at home as you’re served at a typical restaurant, you can multiply those 200 calories by 3. That’s about twice as much grain as most people should eat in a day. (So no cereal or bread or rice for you tomorrow.)
But that was the pasta of the past. Now you can make your own pasta…out of vegetables.
Don’t worry, you won’t need to spend hours with a paring knife. There are appliances that solve the problem of how to make zoodles.
Take the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter.
“Veggetti has 12 ultra-sharp stainless steel blades that effortlessly slice through vegetables for endless pasta strips,” says the manufacturer’s website. You can purchase a Veggetti for under $20 at Bed Bath & Beyond or on Amazon. Or try similar cutters by Brieftons, GEFU, or Ouddy.
“Just place a zucchini into Veggetti and turn,” explains the video that’s on the website. “In just seconds you’ve got tasty zucchini spaghetti with perfect pasta texture.”
The calories drop to just 20 per cup if you serve your “zoodles” uncooked. (Toss them with a tasty salad dressing. Mmm.) Make that 30 calories per cup if you boil or sauté them for just a minute or two. (Any longer and they get mushy.)
Then what? Spoon on your favorite fresh tomato or marinara sauce, or toss with olive oil and sautéed garlic and veggies. Zucchini primavera.
Why vegetables are a good pasta alternative
In 2006, British researchers examined eight studies that monitored more than 235,000 people for an average of 13 years. Those who ate more than five servings of vegetables a day had a 19 percent lower risk of stroke than those who ate less than three servings.
Of course, you’d expect as much. High blood pressure boosts your risk of stroke more than anything else, and a healthy diet rich in vegetables (and fruits) lowered blood pressure in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and Omni- Heart studies.
In fact, a 2002 study found a four-point drop in blood pressure among people who ate just one and one-half more servings of vegetables and fruit a day.
Vegetables not only supply vitamins that are often added to pills or foods (like A, C, and folate), they’re also rich in potassium, lutein, magnesium, vitamin K, fiber, and other nutrients that aren’t so easy to find. And vegetables have other phytochemicals that may turn out to protect your health.
Vegetables offer valuable health benefits
People who eat more vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease. In a meta-analysis of 12 studies that tracked roughly 278,000 people for 11 years, those who averaged more than three servings of vegetables a day had a 16 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who averaged less than 1. 7 servings a day.
Maybe that’s because healthier people eat more vegetables. But it’s also possible that potassium, carotenoids, or something else in kale or spinach or other veggies makes a difference. For example, feeding people more fruits and vegetables makes their arteries more flexible.
Veggies are used to being the butt of jokes. But the joke’s on people who don’t know how to make zoodles.
Sources: J. Hum. Hypertens. 21: 717, 2007; Circulation 119: 2153, 2009; Lancet 367: 320, 2006; N. Engl. J. Med. 336: 1117, 1997; Lancet 359: 1969, 2002.