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If you're looking to cut carbs, you might still crave the satisfaction of chewy pasta smothered in sauce. That's why low-carb noodles—whether they're made with vegetables (like zucchini noodles) or are a pasta alternative (kelp noodles)—are so popular right now.
Even keto dieters can partake in pasta, especially if they keep net carbs in mind. Net carbs are calculated by taking the total carbs and subtracting grams of fiber and sugar alcohols. In some instances, that can help these low-carb noodles fit squarely into your daily diet.
One cup of cooked traditional spaghetti contains 196 calories and 38 grams of carbohydrates. (There are also 2 grams of fiber too.) With a quick switch to a low-carb noodle, you can save as much as 37 grams of carbs per serving. Here's a roundup of seven low-carb, keto-friendly pastas.
The spiralized veggie trend all started with zucchini noodles. Made from just zucchini that's been spiralized or peeled into a noodle-like shape, a ¾-cup serving contains about 15 calories and 3 grams of carbs. If you have a countertop spiralizer or a handheld tool, you can make these at home relatively cheaply (see our best spiralizers here). A more expensive but convenient option is to buy prepackaged zoodles, which you can find in the refrigerated or freezer section of your grocery store. Get inspired by these zucchini noodle recipes.
These, sometimes referred to as miracle noodles (Miracle Noodles is a brand too), are made of water and konjac flour. (Konjac is the root of a yamlike plant.) A 3-ounce serving has a surprising zero calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates. One upside is the 2 grams of fiber per serving, but these noodles offer little else in the way of vitamins and minerals (like you'd get with a vegetable noodle). People say they're similar in texture to regular pasta, but you probably wouldn't fool anyone in a blind taste test. Buy a six-pack from Amazon for around $20. Another option is tofu shirataki noodles, a combination of tofu and konjac, like these from House Foods ($29 for 10 bags on Amazon).
These neutral-flavored noodles are made from powdered sea kelp—aka seaweed. These come in a bag you can buy in the international aisle of your grocery store or online. Sea Tangle, a company that makes kelp noodles, suggests rinsing them and using them cold or sautéing or boiling them for pasta dishes. A 4-ounce serving offers just 6 calories and 1 gram of carbs. Bonus: they're a good source of calcium too. Try Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles, available on Amazon for $12 for a three-pack.
And you thought hearts of palm were only fit for a salad. Hearts of palm is a vegetable that comes from the core of certain varieties of palm trees. People liken the flavor to white asparagus or artichokes. One company, Palmini, says that when properly processed, the texture and taste is akin to the pasta you grew up loving—provided you throw some of your favorite sauce on it. Each serving has 20 calories and 4 grams of carbs. These noodles come in a can or bag and you don't even need to cook them. Buy a six-pack of cans for $25 on Amazon.
Pictured recipe: Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
All you need to make spaghetti squash is a fork and a microwave or oven—and that's the beauty of this "noodle." One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs. That's a bit higher compared to some of the other imitation noodles on this list, but still just about one-fourth of the amount you find in traditional pasta. To cook spaghetti squash, all you need to do is cut it in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and then cook in the microwave or roast in the oven until soft. You'll know it's ready when you can run a fork through the flesh and make long stringlike noodles. (Think angel hair pasta.) Use as a base for your favorite sauce or sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese for a yummy side. Try these "pasta" recipes that use spaghetti squash.
At first blush, edamame spaghetti—made from edamame (soy) bean flour—doesn't appear low-carb. A 2-ounce serving of dried noodles has 180 calories and 20 grams of carbs. However, these are high in fiber, with 13 grams of the satiating nutrient per serving. Taken altogether, that's just 7 grams of net carbs, a number that can fit into many low-carb diets. Use these as a replacement for soba noodles. Buy a six-pack on Amazon for $27.
Carrot isn't often a vegetable that's associated with low-carb eating, but when spiralized into noodles it can fit into a carb-cutting diet. Each cup has 7 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber, for 4 grams of net carbs. Of course, they deliver their telltale carrot taste, so sauté them in a pan and enjoy as a side. Find them in the frozen section of grocers and specialty stores like Trader Joe's.