Low carb noodles – no more empty calories!
Noodles and pasta – everybody knows them, everybody loves them, and body-conscious people would say their relationship is rather “complicated”. I also like noodles in terms of taste, but I eat them quite rarely. The reason is: I try to avoid “empty calories” and empty carbohydrates.
What are “empty calories”?
Especially (strongly) processed foods have “empty calories”. This means that you consume a lot of calories, but hardly any nutrients, vitamins and important, satisfying fiber, etc. Sugar is probably the best example of empty calories. White bread is just the same. Furthermore, pasta, noodles, pastry, and white rice can be added as well. All dishes that I hardly eat and do not satisfy me for long. The problem with empty calories is that you get barely any nutrients per kilocalorie consumed. Therefore, it is said that the calories or carbohydrates as the main energy source in such meals are “empty”.
“Normal” pasta is made from durum wheat semolina also called “pasta wheat”. Durum wheat is a type of grain from the wheat family. For loaves of bread, we usually use “common wheat”. The word “pasta” originates from the land of spaghetti, fusilli, etc. and literally means “dough”. In Bella Italia, pasta stands for all kinds of noodles made from durum wheat, water, and common salt. No matter what shape, thickness, and length they have. Since durum wheat also comes from the wheat family, pasta usually contains gluten. Whole grain noodles are the much better variant! Normally pasta is always vegan. Usually, you shouldn’t find eggs listed in the ingredients.
On average, 100 grams of uncooked pasta has 330 kilocalories (kcal), about 12 g of protein, 71 g of carbohydrates and 1 g of fat. When cooked, noodles absorb water and thus gain weight. This means that 100 grams of uncooked noodles weigh an average of 300 grams when cooked – of course, this does not change the total calorie quantity, since only calorie-free water is added.
Low carb noodle varieties are on the rise
Lately, you can find more and more pasta made from alternative ingredients. So you can now buy gluten-free pasta, but also pasta that doesn’t “boost your gains too much”. For example, you can buy pasta made from peas, lentils or chickpeas. In contrast to common pasta, these do not have “empty calories” but are loaded with nutrients and fiber. The combination of dietary fiber and slowly digestible, complex carbohydrates will keep you full longer! In general, the noodles made from chickpeas, red lentils and green peas are perfect for common pasta dishes, as a side dish or even for a light summer salad.
Pasta made from chickpeas
You may have already read my recipe for a delicious chickpea-avocado salad. You can read there why I love chickpeas so much. Chickpeas are low-fat and at the same time, tiny protein bombs loaded with important antioxidants, fiber, iron, calcium, and other valuable vitamins as well as trace elements. Chickpea noodles have an average of 363 kcal, 19 grams of proteins, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fiber, and about 6 grams of fat. Just like normal pasta, noodles made from lentils, green peas, and chickpeas are cooked in salted water for a few minutes. I like *this* one from Barilla.
Pasta made with red lentils
Red lentils, just like chickpeas, are rich in protein and satiating fiber. Lentil noodles mostly consist of 100% lentil flour. On average, you can expect about 334 kcal, 26 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, and about 8 g dietary fiber per 100 g uncooked lentil noodles. Lentil noodles also taste great mixed with other noodles! I like them, especially for warm pasta dishes. But they are just as suitable for salads or as a side dish in a delicious bowl! *This* one is my choice!
Pasta from green peas
Just like chickpeas and lentils, green peas also come from the legume family. They are therefore also particularly rich in proteins. 100 g uncooked green peas provide about 335 kcal, 20 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, and 9 g fiber. Just like noodles made from chickpeas and red lentils, pea noodles are gluten-free and vegan! I go for *this* one.
Zucchini noodles – also called Zoodles
“Zoodles” is the second name of the zucchini noodles that you can easily make yourself with a spiral cutter. Depending on the manufacturer and size, the spiralizer* looks like an oversized sharpener. You can use it to make your own pasta from zucchinis or also carrots. In fact, you don’t even have to cook the noodles and you can eat them raw as well. Personally, I prefer to fry them shortly in a pan. This is one of my favorite alternatives because they are so wonderfully easy to make. Zucchini and carrot noodles are probably the least caloric option. You can also mix them with other types of pasta and have the best of all worlds! 😉
Compared to other noodles, zucchini noodles have only 19 kcal, 1.6 g protein, 2.2 g carbohydrates, and just 0.4 g fat per 100 g. At the same time, they provide 1.1 g of fiber and consist of 94% water. If we assume a portion of 300 g as with durum wheat semolina pasta, you end up with 330 kcal. 300 g of zucchini pasta would sum up to less than 60 kcal. This is quite a huge difference! Especially if you pay attention to your nutrition and diet. You can find everything summed up as infographics at the end of my blog post!
The alternatives are loaded with nutrients!
You see all the alternatives provide much more nutrients and minerals, vitamins, and trace elements as well as fiber than conventional noodles made of durum wheat. Of course, they all don’t taste exactly like the original, but for me, they don’t have to. Why do we generally often eat “substitute products” – I have already told you a few things about this here! Have you tried my super easy, high-protein recipe for lentil pasta salad? You should!
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