Arthritis Today

Three Delicious Pasta Alternatives

Get more fiber and fewer calories with these substitutes for white flour pasta.


Try these three creative, nutritious alternatives to white flour pasta dishes. You’ll get more fiber and nutrients and fewer calories and refined carbohydrates.

Cold Crunchy Chicken and Snap Pea Soba Salad

Though the ingredient list seems long, this slightly spicy, healthy, lunchbox-friendly soba noodle salad comes together quickly, and lasts 2 or 3 days in the fridge. For a meat-free version, replace the chicken with chopped tofu.

Note: Look for soba noodles, sriracha, rice vinegar and pre-grated ginger in the Asian food aisle of a large grocery store.

TIME: 30 minutes

MAKES: 4 lunch servings

For the salad:

1 (8.8-ounce or similar) package soba noodles

2 cups shredded chicken (use leftovers, or a store-bought rotisserie chicken)

2 cups snap peas, sliced

2 scallions (green and white parts), sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin 1” strips

2 cups roasted (preferably unsalted) cashews

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

For the sesame dressing:

1/4 cup sesame tahini (well-stirred)

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1/2 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sriracha (or similar Asian chili paste), or to taste (optional)

Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Meanwhile, stir the remaining salad ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together until blended. When the noodles are done, rinse them with cold water until they’ve cooled completely. Drain, then add to the bowl with the chicken and vegetables. Drizzle the dressing over the noodles, then use tongs or two spoons to gently combine all the ingredients. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Creamy Rice Fettuccine with Salmon, Kale, Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Rich with the flavors of salmon, white wine and goat cheese (but no actual cream!), this colorful, nutritious pasta dish comes together in a little less than half an hour. Ask your fishmonger to cut the skin off the salmon for you, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

TIME: 30 minutes

MAKES: 4 servings

8 ounces whole-grain rice fettuccine (or similar pasta)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

3 cups (tightly packed) chopped kale (from roughly 1 small bunch green, red, or lacinato kale)

1 pint grape tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 pound salmon filet, skin removed and cut into bite-sized pieces

4 ounces goat cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta’s cooking water after it turns cloudy, and set aside.

After adding the pasta, heat a large skillet over medium heat. (Choose one that has a lid that fits well.) Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then the kale and tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to burst and the kale has softened.

Add the wine, bring to a simmer, nestle the salmon pieces into the vegetables, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes start releasing their juices and the salmon just beings to flake apart.

When the pasta is cooked through, rinse thoroughly with cold water, drain, and toss with the salmon, kale, and tomatoes. Cover the pan and let the pasta heat through for a minute or two. Remove from heat, crumble in the goat cheese, stir, and add enough of the reserved pasta water to make a creamy sauce (if needed). Serve immediately.

Tofu Shirataki Bolognese

Traditional spaghetti Bolognese is delicious, but it packs a caloric wallop. This recipe cuts back on the calories without skimping on flavor by relying on extra veggies – pulverized in the food processor, so you can skip some of the chopping – and on extremely low-calorie tofu shirataki noodles, which you’ll find in your grocery store’s refrigerator section.

NOTE: For a spicy sauce, add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes to the pan when you add the vegetables.

TIME: 40 minutes

MAKES: 4 servings

1/2 pound lean ground beef

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup chopped onion (from half a medium onion)

2 ribs celery, roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 (28-ounce) jar store-bought spaghetti sauce

1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

2 (8-ounce) packages spaghetti-style tofu shirataki noodles

Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking the meat up, until no pink remains. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, whirl the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and oregano in a food processor until very finely chopped. When the meat is done, add the olive oil to the pan, then add the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, then cook and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the meat, the sauce and the cream (if using), and simmer together for another 10 minutes.

(You can make the sauce ahead up to this point, cool, and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.)

When ready to serve, heat the shirataki spaghetti according to package directions, rinsing well. Toss with the sauce, and serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

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