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Try These Swaps During "National Noodle Month"

Sallie Yakowicz, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension Service

Yes, March is National Noodle Month as well as National Nutrition Month. That’s a good excuse to get your pasta fix! Instead of filling up on white pasta high in simple carbohydrates, try some flavorful and nutritious alternatives this month.

Try substituting vegetable noodles for regular pasta. From “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) to “swoodles” (sweet potato noodles), we have many different ways to get a pasta-like substance while reducing carbs and calories. Some veggies that turn into noodle alternatives include sweet potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots or broccoli stems. Either use a spiralizer or cut the vegetables into long, thin strips and then boil or sauté them to achieve these noodle substitutes.

Try bean-based pasta as another option. Noodles made from chickpeas, lentils or black beans have a higher protein and fiber content than white pasta. For the gluten-free crowd, quinoa pasta is a good choice. It is higher in protein than other gluten-free options and contains a good amount of fiber and iron without getting mushy when cooked.

If some of these ideas are a little too unusual for you, stick with regular pasta, but change the toppings to add nutrients. Processed Alfredo and marinara sauces can be high in fat and sodium content, so try topping pasta with tomato-based sauces, vegetables and lean meat, or a light drizzle of olive oil and herbs. Merely switching to whole-wheat noodles can add a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. The most important thing to keep in mind is portion size – everything is okay in moderation.

These simple pasta swaps can make a big difference to your overall health and nutrition, while still allowing you to enjoy a favorite food group. Enjoy noodles in all of their various shapes and sizes.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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