If you haven't gotten on the ~zoodle~ train yet, it's about time you hopped on board. Swapping your regular pasta for zucchini noodles can be a super easy way to add an extra veggie into your daily diet, cut calories, and boost your fiber intake without having to actually give up on your fave comfort food dishes. (Even if you're really craving pasta, we guarantee these zucchini noodle dishes will make a satisfying substitute.) We promise—once your start spiralizing, you won't be able to stop.
Why Should You Try Zucchini Noodles?
First of all, zucchini has about 20 calories per cup versus about 175 calories for a cup of regular spaghetti. (Not all carbs are created equal, remember?) That means swapping pasta for zoodles is freeing up about 150 calories to use elsewhere (we're looking at you, dessert) or to decrease your overall caloric intake if you're looking to drop some pounds. (P.S. here's how to figure out how many calories you actually need, whether you want to lose weight, gain, or maintain.)
Second, zucchini is loaded with water (it makes up 95 percent of its weight!) making it a super hydrating food that's loaded with folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Plus, just one cup of zucchini has six grams of fiber, according to Mount Sinai—that's about 1/5 of your daily recommended intake of 25 to 30 grams.
And last—but certainly not least—you don't have to stick to straight marinara; you can swap zucchini noodles for anything from regular spaghetti to the noodles in pho and chicken pad thai or carbonara (just check out these gluten-free zoodle recipes for more genius ideas). If you're not about that diet lifestyle but want to take small steps to health-ify your day-to-day, this is a perfect square one.
How Do You Make Zucchini Noodles?
There are a few different techniques; the original way is to use a julienne peeler (the peeler with a bunch of little triangle blades sticking out). Wash the squash thoroughly (you want to eat the peel!) and run the peeler down the length of the squash. You'll end up with strips of zucchini that separate into tendrils at the end; pull them all apart to create noodles. Throw them in a pan and sauté with a little oil of your choice (here's your guide to the healthiest options), then serve with whatever sauce or toppings your desire. Another possibility: eat them raw! That way, they'll maintain more of their volume, making you feel like you're eating a lot (while only racking up a few calories).
If you want to take your spiralizing game to the next level, you can invest in an actual spiralizer—they range from small hand-held models to countertop devices with different blade cartridges to stand mixer attachments that handle any type of produce you can throw at it. The best part; you can grab a basic one for as little as $10 or as much as $100, depending on your budget and needs. No matter which one you're using, the process is pretty much the same: wash, spiralize, and sauté or nom on them raw. (Here are non-zoodle ways to use your spiralizer to take your produce—and meals—to the next level.)
To Zoodles and Beyond
And zucchini doesn't need to get all the love; once you have a julienne peeler or spiralizer, you can make veggie noodles out of so many types of produce! These creative spiralized veggie combos prove you can amp up your veggie intake at every meal by creating noodles out of beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and even broccoli. And, get this, you can even spiralize apples.