For Healthy Low-Carb, Low-Cal Dining
As far as I’m concerned, anytime is a good time to ‘veggie-up’ the family’s diet for the sake of healthier eating. But when it comes to kids, it’s not always easy to get them to eat their vegetables. That is, unless you do as I do and ‘disguise’ the vegetables to make them look a whole lot like one of their favourite foods which, in my house, just happens to be pasta noodles!
The good news is that ‘look-alike’ noodles spun from fresh vegetables are every bit as tasty as real pasta noodles. The even better news is that vegetable noodles are a much healthier choice since they’re loaded with antioxidants, are low in calories and fat, and are a rich source of vitamins and minerals needed for good health and well being. And they’re gluten-free to boot! They’re also super easy on the family food budget – a wonderful bonus deal!
Working an array of vegetable ‘noodle’ dishes into your menu planning is an easy, tasty way to live up to the recommended guidelines of eating five to seven servings of vegetables daily. It also puts a fun new spin on fruits.
There are numerous types of kitchen tools on the market specially designed for cutting or, as it’s known by new-age chefs, ‘spiralizing’ vegetables into noodle-like strands of various sizes and shapes. They range from simple, inexpensive hand-held gadgets (like old fashioned julienne peelers grandma used for cutting zucchini and other softer fleshed vegetables into ‘spaghetti’ noodles) to ultra-modern sophisticated multi-blade deluxe spiral slicers that turn out oodles of noodles in no time flat.
So arm yourself with a suitable gadget and start cranking out an array of colourful veggie noodles that can take the place of spaghetti, linguini, angel hair, ribbons, and even lasagna in some of your favourite traditional pasta recipes. You can spiralize all kinds of vegetables starting with every veggie noodle lovers top pick – zucchini (fondly known as ‘zoodles’), and move on to pumpkins, butternut squash, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, parsnips, jicama, daikon, broccoli stems that typically go into the vegetable stock pot, and even fruits like apples and pears. My motto is, “When in doubt, give it a twirl and see what comes out.”
Below are a few of my favourite ways to deliver veggie noodles to the table, as well as a couple of recipes to play with. I strive to use organic, locally grown produce whenever possible. Be sure to scrub, scrape, or peel the fruits and vegetables before using.
Any kind of vegetable noodles, cut in any style you fancy, can be used in place of pasta noodles in the soup pot. Cooking them in broth makes a hearty soup; and you can be versatile by mixing and matching veggies with broths. Try pairing up zucchini noodles and diced chicken meat in rich chicken broth for a magical chicken ‘zoodle’ soup.
Everybody in my house loves stir-fried vegetable noodles, which are fun to eat with chopsticks. I use them in place of typical chow mein noodles in many Asian style recipes.
Veggie Noodle Slaws
If you’re a big fan of Old World cabbage slaw like I am, you’ll love turning an array of other vegetables into colourful slaws – beets, carrots, cukes, or daikon radish.
Mix and match, and for a healthier, lighter-tasting dressing, try using plain yogurt in place of heavier mayo-based dressings.
To have fun with fruit noodles, try adding them to the morning porridge pot, stirring them into yogurt, topping with ice-cream, or folding them into partially set ‘jello’.
Another option is to heap them on a plate, sprinkle with cinnamon or other sweet spice, drizzle with a bit of honey or maple syrup, and let the kids go wild with chopsticks.
Editor’s Note: Upaya Naturals sells very good quality spiralizers. Visit their website www.upayanaturals.com or call (416) 617-3096.