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FOOD Spiralized vegetables stand in for noodles in rainbow pad Thai with shrimp.

Nutritious NOODLES TEXT BY SARAH LEMON | PHOTOS BY ANNIE BERHREND

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hoosing a noodle takes using your noodle since beans, vegetables and grains beyond wheat and rice have permeated the pasta aisle. 16

Grocers’ produce sections harbor one of the newest twists on a pasta substitute. “They’re gluten-free, fat-free,” says Leslie Looney, registered dietitian for Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. “They’re a whole food, so they’re not processed.” “Spiralized” vegetables, says Looney, are extending the appeal of carrots, beets, winter squash, even broccoli stems by masquerading as pasta. Their natural fiber promotes a full sensation longer than conventional noodles’ refined starches. Veggie spirals also supply many more nutrients at a fraction of the calories, says Looney. And their bright colors make for enticing eating. “You can pretty much spiralize everything.” Dozens of gadgets are marketed toward transforming whole vegetables into long, thin ribbons that can be eaten raw, slightly sautéed or barely blanched. But customers’ clamor for convenience is turning spiralized vegetables into a supermarket staple, says registered dietitian Annie Behrend. “It’s an exciting opportunity to eat nutrient-dense food,” says Behrend. “These noodles are insane,” she says, adding that beet spirals she purchased at Safeway measure several feet long. Spiralized vegetables are just the latest in a trend toward more healthful pasta options. Also high in fiber, bean-based noodles pump up a dish’s protein. Edamame ranks highest among legumes for its protein content, says Behrend, who recommends the soybean-derived pasta to patients in her Ashland-based practice. Lentil and black-bean noodles also are readily available at mainstream retailers, she adds. “It’s like a meal in itself and super filling.” Portion sizes are the primary concern when consuming traditional, wheat-based pasta, says Looney. Just 1 cup constitutes a serving of cooked pasta for a woman, 1 ½ cups for a man, she says. But portions, particularly when pasta is the main course, often are twice that size. “Regular noodles are completely healthy for people,” says Looney. “It’s just the amount we eat.” Rice pasta, a frequent substitute for gluten-free recipes, is just as high in carbohydrates as wheat-based noodles, says Looney. And other types of noodles that omit gluten, a naturally occurring protein, typically rely on highly processed, unwholesome starches and more fat than conventional counterparts, she adds. Minimizing the fat and calories in sauces maximizes the nutrition in alternative pastas, says Looney. Cutting back on sodium is as simple as reaching for fresh herbs, citrus zest and even cooking wine, she adds. Pesto’s heart-healthy nuts and olive oil quell cravings for extra cheese. “Pesto’s so bold in flavor, I don’t think people overdo it.” Fresh ginger, garlic and lime juice enhance the taste of Behrend’s homemade Killer Peanut Sauce for pad Thai. Her version uses spiralized vegetables instead of the dish’s more common rice noodles.

Oregon Healthy Living • August 7, 2017

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7/25/2017 2:08:52 PM

Oregon Healthy Living Augst 2017  

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