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January 18, 2017
Zoodles: The Trendy New Way to Eat More Veggies

Whether you have kids at home who won’t touch green foods or a significant other vehemently opposed to anything other than meat and potatoes, finding fun ways to incorporate nutrient-dense veggies into your everyday cooking can be a challenge. But according to the USDA, adults should get two-and-a-half to three cups of vegetables each day, and kids between one to three cups, depending on their age. If you can’t get your family (or yourself) onboard with standard baby carrots or celery sticks, there is another option: zoodles.

Zoodles are, quite simply, thin ribbons of sautéed, soft zucchini masquerading as spaghetti. Most grocery stores sell zoodles pre-made, as well as other nutritious noodles crafted from vegetables such as squash or beets. You can also buy a spiralizer and make your own zoodles at home, a much cheaper option if you intend to make zoodles a go-to ingredient.

So why is zucchini for pasta such a solid swap? Whereas traditional noodles offer only simple carbohydrates and some protein, zucchini boasts an array of health benefits (in addition to being delicious). It’s a good source of minerals that your body needs, including phosphorous, magnesium, and copper, as well as vitamins such as folate, B6, and vitamin C. It also offers carbohydrate — the fuel that makes your body run – along with fiber and even some protein.

So now that you know the basics of zoodles, how can you present them in a way that will appeal to everyone at your table? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Try zoodles and meatballs. This doesn’t require slaving over homemade meatballs and sauce. You can keep it simple with frozen meatballs and bottled or canned sauce—just look for low-sodium options to keep it healthy. Smothered with sauce and topped with meatballs, your kids won’t even notice that their spaghetti is green.
  2. Dig into Thai-style zoodles. Love pad Thai? You (and your family) might love it even more if you opt for a zoodle-centric recipe, like this one from Delish, instead of sticking with the standard noodles.
  3. Warm up with some chicken zoodle soup. ‘Tis the season to cozy up with a warm bowl of soup, and zoodles are the perfect addition to your existing soup recipe. If you don’t already have a go-to chicken soup recipe, you can’t go wrong with a simple slow-cooker dish like this—just add zoodles in lieu of pasta.

With these ideas in mind, it’s time to get cooking!

Submitted by Michelle Algeo, currently an intern with the Harrington HealthCare Dietary Department.