For the Love of Pasta

BBC News’ recent article “Is reheated pasta less fattening?” has me rethinking pasta!

If you haven’t heard the news, apparently when pasta cools and is then reheated, the structure of the pasta changes so that your body treats it more like a fiber and less like a carb. Why is this important? It means a significantly lower spike in glucose levels so you’ll stay fuller longer and absorb fewer calories. Eating cool pasta will have a similar effect, but strangely by reheating it you increase the benefits. Most importantly, it means that all the times I’ve yelled at Mr. Man for eating the cold leftover spaghetti straight out of the fridge I was right! (See? You really should heat it up before eating it. Geesh.)

But before you get your water boiling for a week’s worth of macaroni, I have a couple interesting pasta alternatives that will help you shed weight and stay healthy.

Spaghetti Squash

Image curtosey of New Health Guide

The sky is the limit with this midsized gourd. Spaghetti squash Bolognese? Asian stir-fry squash? Buffalo chicken gourd? Basically whatever you slop on top of pasta (or rice!) you can slop on top of this instead and end up with a similar taste, lower carbs (36 grams less per cup compared to pasta), fewer calories (190 calories less per cup compared to pasta), and an excellent veggie based meal to boost your health. Except maybe alfredo sauce. Although don’t quote me on that since I’ve never actually tried it. I’m just not convinced it would be a good idea. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with, just cooled down and reheated. But! I digress.


Information courtesy of Google. % of daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet.

So how to unleash the awesome sunshine yellow happiness?

  1. Wash the squash
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise
  3. Scoop out the middle goopy bit, like you would a pumpkin, or a, well, squash
  4. Place the halves cut-side down in a microwaveable dish (probably a casserole or something)
  5. Prick the back of the skin a few times with a fork (like a potato!) (I love this part) (Yes, I’m weird)
  6. Add a smidge of water to the bottom of the dish (not a whole heck of a lot here)
  7. Place dish in microwave (say whaaa? So here’s the deal, you can totally bake this puppy in the oven for like an hour at say 475oC or something, but who has time for that?!?!)
  8. Use your “Fresh Vegetable” setting. Or, if you’re like me and your microwave is not soo fancy (and doesn’t generally work unless you talk nice to it and wiggle the door in just the right way and then cry and scream and kick at it until Mr. Man comes and rescues you with his magic touch to make the damn thing work and you wonder why you don’t just buy a new microwave already…*ahem*), I would put it in for 5 minutes at a time, poking at it with a knife (probably the one you cut it in half with) until it is soft (but not mushy). Generally speaking, a small to midsized squash will run you about 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Carefully flip the squash cut-side up
  10. With a fork, pull the squash away from the skin creating spaghetti like strands

And there you have it! In 10 easy steps and 10 minutes, you have a fabulous pasta alternative. My go-to is generally just topping it with Bolognese sauce and some grated cheese like I would spaghetti noodles.

Zucchini

Image courtesy of Health Benefits Times

If you’re looking for a great lasagna noodle alternative, look no further than zucchini!

Information courtesy of Google. % of daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet.

  1. Wash the zucchini
  2. Cut off the end bits
  3. Using a peeler or mandolin, slice off thin strips of zucchini lengthwise until you start hitting seeds
  4. Rotate and repeat (if your slices have seeds they won’t stay together all noodle like)
  5. Use the raw zucchini slices in your lasagna layering and cook as per usual

Honestly, it’s that simple.

You can also slice/cut up the zucchini into smaller strips to mimic spaghetti noodles and top accordingly. Or you can get all fancy pants like my spiffy co-worker (actually she’s super awesome and is the one that showed me the way of the zucchini), and get a spiral slicer and make curly zucchini slices (of any thickness or style). If you’re making spaghetti and don’t feel like raw zucchini, you can give it a quick sauté or heat it up in some boiling water. Just be cautious not to leave it cooking too long or it will go mushy. I would say 2 minutes tops.

If all else fails and you’re still not feeling overly inspired by my easy, healthy pasta ninjas, then I guess you can always revert to cook, cool, and reheat so you can have your cake and eat it too (or, in this case, healthier pasta with weight loss benefits that’s still pasta).

Who said leftovers couldn’t be sexy? 😉

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