When it comes to pasta, nutrient-dense and gluten-free is not a common pairing. Minimally-processed should be the ultimate goal for your health, and packaged gluten-free pasta you find in your grocery store often falls short. Time to get creative with these fun and delicious options to whip up at home.
Raw Zucchini Noodles
An all-time personal favorite, zucchini noodles are not only easy to make, but can be served raw or lightly sautéed. Eating raw where possible is a great way to retain enzymes in your food. Simply purchase a medium to large organic zucchini, wash and make your own noodles. Zucchini is a hydrating vegetable due to its high water content, and contains essential B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals.
Options for making your own noodles from zucchini range from a simple cheese grater, to a mandolin slicer for flat fettuccini noodles, or a spiral slicer. The latter two create more uniform noodles, but a cheese grater is often more convenient. If using a grater, use long strokes to make longer noodles.
Make your oodles of noodles with your tool of choice then lightly sauté in water or coconut oil for 2 to 3 minutes. If you prefer raw, prep your noodles and toss in a serving bowl with veggies of your choice and a sauce of your choice. Pesto tastes great on zucchini noodles.
Rock your dish with this pesto recipe:
– 2 to 4 cloves of garlic
– ½ cup of hemp seed or walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds
– 2 ½ to 3 cups of fresh basil, add into blender 1 cup at a time
– 1Tbsp nutritional yeast
– ½ cup Vega Antioxidant Omega Oil Blend
– ½ tsp. sea salt
1) Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender, and blend. If using a blender you will need to stop and stir to make sure it blends properly. Makes two cups of pesto.
2) Mix into noodles before serving rather than in the frying pan. This will help retain the enzymes and nutritional profile within the pesto.
Spaghetti squash is not only incredibly easy to make, but low carbohydrate and nutrient dense, containing vitamin A, K and essential minerals. Purchase an organic spaghetti squash at your nearest grocer or farmers market; slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Pre-heat your oven to 375◦F and place the squash rind-side-up on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife.
Preparation: easiest noodles ever!
When the squash is cooked, it will be soft. Grab a fork and carefully scrape the squash lengthwise out of the rind (carefully, as it will be hot). The spaghetti squash will actually shred into noodle-like pieces, giving it the fitting name of spaghetti squash. This dish is best served with tomato-based pasta sauces.
These pre-packaged noodles are made from sea vegetables and have an al dente texture. I like these noodles for their nutrient density, containing iodine and calcium, and great texture in stir-fries and noodle bowls. The next time you make a Thai green curry, or a cashew stir-fry, substitute kelp noodles in place of rice. All you have to do is remove them from the bag, rinse and mix in with your curry or stir-fry. No cooking necessary! Kelp noodles can also be used in soups or in pasta salad. You can find them pre-packaged at your nearest health food store, grocery store or Asian grocer.
What to look for when buying packaged pasta:
If making your own noodles or using kelp noodles doesn’t quite satiate your hunger for Italian-style noodles, there are a few things you should look for to make sure you are finding the best options.
1) Be a savvy shopper.
Read the ingredients list. The shorter the ingredients list, the better. And if you can pronounce what’s listed, things are looking up! You never know what might be hidden in a product. One product may read quinoa noodles, but their primary ingredient is corn flour.
2) Whole grain.
Always look for whole grain. Whole grain is less processed than other pastas and still contains fiber and nutrients from the grain. For example, whole grain brown rice pasta
Look for fiber as gluten-free options are often void of fiber. Fiber is essential for efficient digestion, satiety as well as healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Look for sustainable growing practices or organic ingredients.
Whether you are an on-the-go cook, or cooking is an art accomplished with time, enjoy these fun and nutritious options to stay healthy and gluten-free!