Healthy Alternatives to Pasta

Explore 10 healthy alternatives to pasta, debunk common misconceptions about this popular food staple, and enjoy our whole wheat pasta recipe!

In this article

Why People Crave Pasta

Pasta, a staple in many diets worldwide, is often craved due to its high carbohydrate content. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in our bodies, which is the primary source of energy for our cells, muscles, and brain. This process triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of happiness and satisfaction. This serotonin boost is one reason why pasta can be so addictive.

Additionally, the texture and taste of pasta play a significant role in its appeal. The soft, chewy texture and neutral flavor make it a versatile and satisfying meal component. However, pasta is typically low in fiber and protein, which can lead to overeating as it doesn’t keep you full for long. Despite the existence of healthier pasta alternatives, the unique combination of taste, texture, and serotonin boost makes it a challenging craving to overcome.

10 Healthy Alternatives to Pasta

Spaghetti Squash
This vegetable is a great substitute for pasta due to its stringy texture that resembles spaghetti. It is lower in calories and carbohydrates, and contains essential nutrients like vitamins A and C.

Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)
Zoodles offer a similar texture to pasta and can be used in many of the same dishes. They are lower in calories and carbohydrates, and provide a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.

Whole Wheat Pasta
While still pasta, whole wheat versions are a healthier choice as they are higher in fiber and protein, and can help you feel fuller for longer.

This grain is a good pasta substitute due to its similar texture. Quinoa is higher in protein and fiber, and is a great source of essential amino acids.

Lentil or Chickpea Pasta
These types of pasta are higher in protein and fiber, and can be a good source of iron. They offer a similar texture and taste to regular pasta.

Shirataki Noodles
Made from konjac yam, these noodles are very low in calories and carbohydrates. They have a similar texture to pasta and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Brown Rice Pasta
This is a good gluten-free alternative to regular pasta. It is higher in fiber and can help you feel fuller for longer.

Cauliflower Gnocchi
This substitute offers a similar texture to traditional gnocchi. It is lower in calories and carbohydrates, and provides a good source of vitamin C.

Cabbage Noodles
Thinly sliced cabbage can be used as a pasta substitute in many dishes. It is low in calories and carbohydrates, and provides a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

Butternut Squash Noodles
These noodles offer a slightly sweet flavor and a similar texture to pasta. They are lower in calories and carbohydrates, and are a good source of vitamins A and C.

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Is Pasta Really Unhealthy?

Pasta often gets a bad rap in health discussions, but it’s not as black and white as it seems. While traditional white pasta may be low in fiber and high in simple carbohydrates, there are many whole grain and legume-based alternatives that offer more nutritional value. Understanding the nutritional content of different types of pasta can help individuals make informed dietary choices.

The Gluten-Free Pasta Dilemma

With the rise of gluten-free diets, many people are left wondering if gluten-free pasta is a healthier alternative. While it’s essential for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, for others, it’s not necessarily healthier. Gluten-free pasta often lacks the fiber and nutrients found in whole grain pasta.

Does Pasta Make You Gain Weight?

One common misconception is that pasta directly leads to weight gain. While overconsumption of any food can contribute to weight gain, pasta in moderation can be part of a balanced diet. Pairing pasta with lean proteins and vegetables can create a satisfying, nutrient-dense meal.

Can Pasta Be Part of a Low-Carb Diet?

Many people on low-carb diets often wonder if there’s a pasta substitute that fits their dietary restrictions. Fortunately, alternatives like spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, and shirataki noodles offer a pasta-like experience with fewer carbs.

Pasta: Comfort Food or Addiction?

The comforting nature of pasta often leads to questions about its addictive qualities. The high carbohydrate content in pasta can trigger a release of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which can lead to cravings. However, labeling pasta as “addictive” oversimplifies the complex nature of food and eating behaviors.

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Healthy Pasta Recipe

Rustic Whole Wheat Spaghetti – A Heart-Healthy Pasta Delight

In this healthy recipe for pasta, whole wheat flour lays the foundation for a heartier, fiber-rich spaghetti that retains a toothsome bite. The nutty undertones of the whole wheat are complemented by the subtle, earthy flavor of fresh herbs, making each forkful a nutritious and aromatic experience.

Prep Time

40 minutes

Cook Time

5 minutes

Total Time

45 minutes


  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Pasta cutter or knife
  • Rolling pin or pasta machine
  • Large pot
  • Slotted spoon or tongs
  • Kitchen scale (optional for precise measurements)


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (if needed)


  1. Place the whole wheat flour and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the beaten eggs and olive oil into the well.
  2. Using a fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs and olive oil from the inside of the well outwards, until the mixture forms a shaggy dough.
  3. If the dough is too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  6. After resting, divide the dough into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out to your desired thickness, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
  7. Use a pasta cutter or a sharp knife to cut the rolled-out dough into spaghetti strands.
  8. Dust the cut pasta lightly with flour and form into nests to prevent sticking. Cover with a clean cloth while you roll out and cut the rest of the dough.
  9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook for 2-5 minutes, depending on thickness, until al dente.
  10. Remove the pasta using a slotted spoon or tongs and serve immediately with your choice of sauce and toppings.

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