7 Best Low Carb Pasta Substitutes

Quick Tuna & Pesto Cabbage

A few weeks ago I got a lovely message from one of my new Simple Meal Plans members.

Kamila wrote to tell me how using the meal plans had allowed her to radically change her diet.

She cut out sugar and carbs.

In a fast and simple way.

She’s already feeling the benefits…

No longer sleepy all the time.

Eczema clearing up.

And much less irritability!

But Kamila had one more question…

“I have a serious addiction to pasta with olive oil, garlic and chilli (and nice chunk of parmesan). Is there any chance to switch it to low carb / low gluten and still keep it that tasty?”
– Kamila

7 Best Low Carb Pasta Substitutes

1. Cabbage

My favourite low carb alternative to pasta is cabbage.

It’s seriously the best.

This Cabbage Carbonara is my fave if I’m craving a big bowl of something pasta-ish

If Kamila wanted to keep the flavours similar to her olive oil, garlic and chilli, I told her to use the cooking method for the cabbage in the carbonara recipe.

Then use the cooked cabbage the same way you would use the pasta.

2. Steamed Broccoli

Cooked broccoli is another excellent pasta substitute.

It’s a lot more vibrant and green than boring old pasta (which may or may not be a bad thing!)

I just chop my broccoli into bite sized florettes. And then boil about 1cm deep salted water in a large saucepan. Then ‘steam’ the broccoli covered for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and it’s ready to be used anywhere you’d toss in cooked pasta.

Like this Broccoli with Creamy Tuna Sauce or my Broccoli & Bacon Bowls.

3. Cooked Greens

Especially Kale! But any cooked greens like spinach, collards, chard are all good too.

Like this Killer Kale Gratin.

Or just serve your pasta sauce on a bed of cooked greens instead of the pasta. Especially delicious with meaty ragus.

4. Baby Spinach

If I’m short on time, opening a bag of baby spinach and topping it with sauce is a winning simple meal.

Especially in the warmer months.

5. Spiralized Zucchini

Certainly the closest to spaghetti in appearance.

I generally spiralize a few minutes ahead and toss the zucchini ‘noodles’ with a little salt to help them soften. In summer I serve them cold with the sauce on top.

If it’s cooler, I take the extra time to toss the zucchini in the pan so it warms properly.

You can use carrot as well, but I tend to stick to zucchini because it’s much lower carb. And the texture and flavour is a closer match.

6. Roast Veggies

I made a roast veggie bolognese recently using cauliflower and onion which was absolutely delicious. But the same idea could be applied to any roast veg. Think roast mushrooms, roast eggplant, roast zucchini and red peppers. So many options!

If you don’t mind some carbs, like my boys, roast spuds or sweet potato can be lovely.

7. Half & Half

And if you can’t bring yourself to skip the pasta all together, using a combo of one of these ideas with your pasta is a good starting place.

What about you?

Would you like to cut down on pasta and carbs? Is there something you’re really missing?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

And have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x

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16 Comments

  • Love and use most of these substitutes and then when I really find I’m craving pasta I get some Shirataki noodles – the wide ones are very similar in texture to rice noodles and NuPasta (brand) makes one that is like spaghetti (it’s thicker than others I’ve tried). While they don’t have the same taste as pasta when dressed with some spicy sauce and mixed with other vegetables they can pass really well. And virtually no carbs but lots of fibre.

    • Lovely to hear from you Miriam!

      There are some good low carb packaged noodle options – but I don’t like to have them too often because you’re missing out on all the veggies! And even if they’re low carb and high fiber they’re still very processed.

      Jx

  • Had never thought of using cabbage as a pasta substitute until your recipe of cabbage and feta. My husband, a pasta and bread guy, really liked it. Very satisfying, so cabbage “pasta” has become a new regular in our house

  • Im surprised you didn’t include shirataki noodles in your options for a pasta alternative. The original yam noodle is 0 carbs 0 calories with a very close pasta texture and experience. Made from one ingredient yam that is stored in lime water. Once you learn gow to cook them and add your own flavours with veggies and sauce they are the perfect substitute.

    • I agree with you Debra but Jules has a point when she says they are highly processed and we want, if possible to eat unprocessed foods. Not sure how they are made except that lime water is involved. I love them. There are a number of brands and the texture and size/shape of the noodle are different. I agree they make a good alternative and one of the benefits is how filling they are.

  • How about pasta cooked, chilled and reheated? I’ve read that chilling changes the carb structure so that it becomes fibre not carb!

    • IT’s only some of the carb gets turned into fibre (resistant starch) Hilary – so it’s a better choice than freshly cooked pasta but still way to carby for my blood sugar :)

  • YOU FORGOT SPAGHETTI SQUASH WHICH WE USE ALL THE TIME WITH SAUCE AND MEATBALLS . DELICIOUS , WE ARE ITALIAN AND GREW UP ON PASTAS , WE LOVE IT , BUT THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH HITS THE SPOT EVERYTIME.

  • YOU FORGOT SPAGHETTI SQUASH WHICH WE USE ALL THE TIME WITH SAUCE AND MEATBALLS . DELICIOUS , WE ARE ITALIAN AND GREW UP ON PASTAS , WE LOVE IT , BUT THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH HITS THE SPOT EVERY TIME.

  • YOU FORGOT SPAGHETTI SQUASH WHICH WE USE ALL THE TIME WITH SAUCE AND MEATBALLS . DELICIOUS , WE ARE ITALIAN AND GREW UP ON PASTAS , WE LOVE IT , BUT THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH HITS THE SPOT EVERY TIME.

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