Studies show that people eat roughly the same weight (or volume) of food every day. That means that eating foods with fewer calories per bite will help you feel just as full on fewer calories.
How can you lower the calorie density of your food? Non-starchy vegetables. That’s why the veggie-spiral trend is such a boon to anyone who’s looking to lose—or not gain—weight.
Vegetable spirals make swapping veggies for pasta a snap.
One of our favorite tricks for eating more non-starchy vegetables is to replace pasta with veggie spirals made from zucchini, carrot, or turnips. You name it, you can spiralize it.
Spaghetti and its relatives have around 200 calories per cup…and most restaurants serve three to four cups. That’s roughly twice as much grain as most people should eat in an entire day. But the calories drop to just 30 per cup if you go with sautéed zucchini noodles or “zoodles.”
Tip: Sauté them for just a minute or two. (Any longer and they get mushy.)
How do you make zoodles and other spiralized veggies? Try the hand-held Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter. It “works on any food that is 2.5” or smaller in diameter,” says the manufacturer’s website. Bonus: the Veggetti costs under $10 on Amazon or at Target or Walmart. (For larger or tougher vegetables, you’ll need to invest in a heavy-duty model, which many brands sell for around $30 or less.)
Trader Joe’s and others make it easier than ever to get vegetable spirals on your plate tonight.
If you’re not ready to invest in a new kitchen gadget, head to your supermarket’s produce section. It shouldn’t be hard to find a wide variety of veggie spirals in most stores, but Trader Joe’s has the first frozen veggie spirals we’ve seen.
Why try frozen? You can stockpile ‘em in your freezer until it’s time for a veggie-noodle night.
Take Trader Joe’s Carrot Spirals. Cook up enough to replace half—or all—of the linguine or fettuccine you were going to make. The frozen spirals—they’re nothing but carrot and just enough salt to provide 160 milligrams of sodium per half cup—are ready for your favorite sauce after a 6-to-8-minute detour through a hot skillet with a touch of oil.
For each half cup of cooked white pasta you replace with a half cup of carrot spirals, you lose about 60 calories and gain a gram of fiber, 2 ½ days’ worth of vitamin A, and some vitamin K.
Or try the Zucchini Spirals with your favorite fresh tomato or marinara sauce, or toss with olive oil and sautéed garlic and veggies. Zucchini primavera, anyone?
And spaghetti’s not the only pasta getting a makeover. Next, head back to the fresh produce aisle, where you’ll find Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Zig-Zags and Sweet Potato Ribbons, which are both “versatile enough for salads, stir-fries, soups, casseroles or even a pasta swap!” say the packages. The possibilities are endless.
Not near a Trader Joe’s? Look for similar “zig-zags” or “ribbons” by Mann’s Culinary Cuts.
What’s your favorite way to serve veggie “noodles”? Share it in the comments.