3 reasons to trade your noodles for veggies

Everyone knows that too much of their favorite macaroni and cheese can pack on the pounds. But did you know that it could also make your back pain worse? That’s right. A diet high in refined carbohydrates – think pasta, bagels, and white rice – can actually agitate joint inflammation. Thankfully there are some healthy and tasty substitutions for the noodles on your plate.

Benefits of Veggies

Low carb – Once consumed, carbohydrates are essentially converted to sugar in your blood stream. This can lead to inflammation, which aggravates the pain of facet syndrome or degenerative joint disease. Vegetables are low in carbohydrates, so a serving size of zucchini – like other hardy, dark vegetables – has fewer than 10 carbohydrates. This means your blood sugar won’t spike as it would following a plateful of spaghetti, which runs closer to 100 carbohydrates per serving.

High in vitamins – Vegetables are great, not only for what they lack (sugar), but what they contain – vitamins! Dark, leafy greens are especially rich in vitamins C, A, and B6.

Easy to eat Vegetables require very little time to prepare aside from washing and slicing. To save time, wash and chop your veggies early in the week and then refrigerate in easy-to-grab, serving-size zip-close bags for simple snacks.

Plenty of options – Substituting pasta isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are two simple recipes to try:

“Spaghetti” – A basic alternative to traditional spaghetti noodles is pasta made from zucchini. Several affordable spiral graters are currently available in stores, and they can quickly transform a regular zucchini into spiralized strands to enjoy under your favorite Bolognese or Alfredo sauce. Zucchini spirals only need to boil for a few minutes to soften appropriately, so your prep time is essentially the same as before.

Greek-inspired “pasta” – Armed with a spaghetti squash and the fixings for a traditional Greek salad, you have the ingredients needed for this easy main course. Slice the squash in half, then place the halves face down on a baking sheet. After 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven, the meat of the squash should be soft enough to scoop out. Sauté a chopped onion, fresh garlic, and diced tomatoes in olive oil. Once softened, toss in with the flesh of the squash. Sprinkle in feta cheese, sliced black olives, and fresh basil. Bon appétit!

Armed with fresh vegetables and some creativity, you can start experimenting and cooking up your own health-conscious creations.  Before starting any new diet, be sure to consult with your physician.

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