Whether it was spaghetti and meatballs or my mother’s passed down recipe of tuna mayonnaise and cheesy pasta, if I wanted to cook something quick and tasty, my first choice was always pasta.
Imagine my heartbreak then, when I decided to change my eating habits, I found out pasta was not only high in carbohydrates, it was among the top carb-filled foods you could get.
I knew from the off I would have to find a decent low carb pasta or some kind of substitute if I was to ever again enjoy some of my beloved pasta recipes with the family again.
The Truth About Pasta
Just like there are different types of carbohydrates, there are different types of pasta too – quite a few different ones actually.
Therefore, in order to make sound nutritional choices and stick to a low carb diet, it helps if individuals understand the differences.
Remember you are aiming to reduce your carbohydrate intake, not eliminate carbohydrates all together. As the Harvard School of Public Health reminds us that a certain amount of carbs are necessary to provide vital fuel for the body, as well as maintaining health and general well-being.
Different Types of Pasta
Today you can also by low carb pasta in shops, pasta made of soy flour that look very much like “real” pasta.
You can also try different kinds of noodles you buy in Asian store, like Shirataki noodles and tofu noodles.
While purchasing low carb pasta in the shops is obvious by the packet, restaurants and other eateries may not be as clear when it comes to the type of pasta they serve – don’t be shy about asking what type of pasta they serve.
Pasta and Blood Sugar
Because most ordinary pastas contain “bad” carbohydrates, eating too much has been linked with raising blood sugar levels. This can have potentially life-threatening consequences for a person suffering from diabetes.
Pasta made from refined wheat flour is digested much quicker than low carb pasta made from whole grains. Foods that are digested quickly not only contribute to the sugar lows and highs people may experience during the day, it also does not satisfy hunger for long. Meaning you are much more likely to want more to eat in a shorter space of time.
According to Kansas University, individuals who eat pasta made from durum wheat and other refined flours are more likely to suffer from diabetes and obesity.
Look on the Label
So, as I researched low carb meals and recipes, I noted that knowing my pastas and the differences between which was good and which were bad was going to make a huge difference to my diet and general eating changes.
The most common everyday pasta is made from semolina flour, which is made using something called endosperm – in the case of semolina flour it is the endosperm of durum wheat. This means pasta made with this type of flour is not only higher in carbs, it is also seriously lacking in fiber and other vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Therefore, when you are doing the shopping check the labels on what you buy.
If you want low carb pasta, look for whole grain pasta.
According to the University of Utah, one cup of white flour pasta contains exactly the same calories as a cup of whole grain pasta. However, the low carb pasta will satisfy your hunger for longer, as well as providing essential nutrients.
During my quest to find low carb meal recipes, I was happy to come across more than a few low carb pasta recipes.
Of course, I knew my family could still eat my usual pasta recipes but if I wanted to share the meal with them I needed to make our family favorites low in carbs. But would they notice the difference?
And more importantly, was it even possible to find a low carb pasta dish that offered taste as well as health benefits.
The Ultimate Easy Low Carb Pasta and Meatballs Recipe
What you need –
1 ½ pounds of ground beef
One Tablespoon of chopped garlic
¼ cup of chopped onion
¼ cup of whole grain flour
One teaspoon of mustard
500 grams of whole grain spaghetti
• Mix the beef, garlic, onion, flour and mustard together in a dish until the mixture has bind together
• Form your mixture into balls, roughly 1 ½ inches in size and place on grease-proof paper on a baking tray
• Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for around 25 minutes or until fully cooked
• While the meatballs are cooking, add the packet of spaghetti to a pan of boiling water and cook for around ten minutes.
• Place the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and serve
I did say it was easy!!
My family like to add their own sauces, the kids love barbecue sauce while my husband and I prefer the classic tomato.
I also make this recipe with peppers and pineapple chunks added to the spaghetti to add a sweet taste to a great dish. This recipe contains around two grams of carbs per serving and about 189 calories – depending on the sauces used and serving sizes.
Not only is this one of the best, and easiest, low carb meals I have in my cookbook – nobody noticed the difference at all.
Traditional Low Carb Pasta Meal Ideas
While I was really happy I had found a low carb version of my family’s favorite dish, I did wonder if I could find a low carb pasta version of the more traditional dishes I was used to making.
For example, I was well known among our friends for making the best lasagne in town. Also, when my husband wanted to entertain work colleagues or superiors, I could always rely on a fancy pasta dish to win people over.
I wasn’t convinced I could find low carb meals that would taste as good as the originals, after all my lasagne was a lot different to making meatballs.
Low Carb Pasta Lasagne
You will need –
Two pounds of ground beef (ensure it is extra lean)
Two teaspoons of minced garlic (or garlic salt)
Three large chopped up tomatoes
Two teaspoons of basil
1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese (low-in-fat version)
One packet of low carb pasta squares (look for whole grain)
Salt and pepper to taste
• Cook off the onion in a non-stick pan over a medium heat for around two minutes or until soft, then add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds.
• Add the ground beef to the onions, mixing in the tomatoes and basil. Cook for about 20 minutes, giving the tomatoes time to break up and create a thick sauce. Add a little salt at this point too.
• Take a nine by thirteen inch pan and layer the bottom with a about 1/3 of the beef sauce, top with low carb pasta squares and add another 1/3 of the sauce. Continue this layering technique until you have used up your sauce. (the final layer should be sauce, not pasta)
• Cover the top layer of sauce with the mozzarella cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for around 45 minutes.
• Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into eight pieces and serving with a fresh salad.
This recipe has been a godsend to me, not only is it a tasty treat for the family but it has enabled me to keep my “best lasagne” title with my friends.
It is also easy to make a veggie option by replacing the meat layers with your chosen vegetables.
If you fancy a change from low carb pasta squares, you can replace those with slices of zucchini – this makes a really tasty alternative.
Cooking Low Carb Meals for Guests
So, while I was happy I could keep my passion for pasta in my new low carb lifestyle, I was still left with a problem – what could I cook for my dinner party guests.
I always chose a pasta dish when we had dinner guests, because most people like it and it is easy, and relatively risk free to make. After all there was no need to ask guests how they liked their pasta cooked or worrying whether pastry was going to be crusty or wet.
Yes, there was a multitude of reasons I stuck with fancy pasta dishes for dinner parties – my absolute former favorite being a creamy carbonara that tasted like heaven.
However, this dish, even with whole grain pasta, would tip my carb count above what I was happy with, so I decided to look for pasta dishes I could wow people with while still staying true to my low carb diet.
Low Carb Pasta Penne with Marscarpone and Bacon
You will need –
One cup of wholegrain pasta penne
¾ of a pound of lean bacon, chopped
Three garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup of chopped shallots
½ cup of white wine
¼ cup of milk
One cup of marscarpone cheese
¼ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
• Cook the bacon in a large pan, on a medium heat, for around twelve minutes until it begins to crisp. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and lay on paper towels to allow any excess fat to drain.
• While your bacon is cooking, prepare your wholegrain pasta penne according to the cooking directions on the packet.
• Add the shallots to your pan and cook off for two minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute.
• Stir in the white wine and cook for around three minutes or until you notice it has reduced by at least half the amount. Add the marscarpone, with a pinch of salt and black pepper and keep stirring until the cheese has melted – this should take around two minutes.
• Mix in the parsley and milk and cook for a further minute before adding the bacon and pasta to the pan, mixing gently. Allow the mixture to heat through for a minute before serving.
This easy, yet classy dish, takes less than an hour to prepare and cook. Serving, on average, six people, each portion has just 2.6 grams of carbohydrates and 94 calories. This low carb pasta dish is a great alternative to the many different creamy Italian dishes, such as carbonara, that you may be used too.
According to the University of Kansas, around 73-percent of people following a low carb diet do not bother checking the ingredients on the packets they are purchasing.
Because food manufacturers are not strictly allowed to label their products as being low carb, it is really important that you learn to check the labels on the foods you are buying.
Relying on a sticker saying low-in-fat or reduced-sugar is not good enough and you should read the nutritional information on the back of the packet for more solid information, especially when it comes to carbohydrate totals. So if you cannot trust yourself to check the packets you are buying, you could consider, as I did, making your own low carb pasta.
Home-made Low Carb Pasta
Okay, there is no other way to put this – making your own low carb pasta, or indeed any pasta, is not easy or stress-free.
However, the potential taste you could achieve is more than worth a little extra work in the kitchen. Also, once you have made your own pasta, you can dream up your own low carb meal ideas.
You will need –
3 ½ cups of whole wheat flour, ensuring it is completely unsifted
1 ½ cups of gluten flour
Three tablespoons of oil
Seven tablespoons of water
One teaspoon of pepper
Two teaspoons of salt
• Mix both flours, salt, and pepper together in a big mixing bowl, using a fork. Using your fist, make a crater (space) in the middle of the flour so it almost resembles a small bowl.
• Crack your eggs into a separate bowl and beat them out with a fork before adding the water and oil and mixing.
• Add the egg mixture to the crater of flour in your other bowl. At this point I sometimes add rosemary or oregano depending on whether I want my low carb pasta to have a hint of flavor.
• Mix all the ingredients together rapidly with a fork to ensure everything is combined. Once it has become dough-like in consistency remove from the bowl and place on a pre-floured board.
• Proceed to knead the dough firmly with your fingers and fists for about 15 minutes before covering and leaving to rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
• After putting more flour on your wooden board, roll out the pasta using a rolling pin, rolling out the low carb pasta dough until it is paper thin. Sprinkle some more flour on top of your pasta and let it sit for 15 minutes.
• Decide how you want to cut your pasta, thin strips will make spaghetti or cut into small squares for ravioli. Place your cut pasta onto grease-proof paper, leaving at least an inch gap between each piece.
• Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to cook.
Obviously, making your own low carb pasta is much more time-consuming than opening a packet but you will be surprised at the taste difference.
I usually make a large batch, as it keeps well frozen, and make the majority of, my low carb, meals at least using pasta.
Because white flour pasta has such a high carb count, knowing you have your own batch of low carb alternative means you have the basis for any meal you choose.
Mix home-made low carb pasta with tuna, mayonnaise and sweetcorn for an easy dish, you can eat hot or cold. This is ideal for taking to work, or school, for a healthy low carb lunch.
Go to the top of this page,
Low Carb Pasta
Visit the other great pages on this site about low carb: Low Carb Foods, Low Carb Bread, Low Carb Desserts, Low Carb Chicken Recipes, Low Carb Food List, Low Carb Snacks, Free Low Carb Recipes, Low Carb Meals, Low Carb Barbecue Sauce, Low Carb Tortillas, No Carb Diet, Low Carb Breakfast Recipes