Best grain-free, low-carb substitute for pasta

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 11 October 2016



Did you know that eating a bowl of pasta is like eating a bowl of sugar? One cup of pasta, even whole grain or even gluten-free is approximately fifty grams of carbohydrate. When this carbohydrate gets to your small intestine it becomes digested into several small molecules called glucose. Glucose equals sugar.




Did you know that my favourite substitute for pasta is spaghetti squash? One cup of spaghetti squash is approximately five grams of carbohydrate. Yes five. That means you can eat ten cups of spaghetti squash to get the same amount of sugar in one cup of pasta, plus you have all the vitamins, and minerals lacking in the pasta.

Let's face it - what really makes spaghetti taste great - is the sauce you put on top. So try cooking a spaghetti squash in the oven, or in the microwave. There are millions of recipes you can look up online or using Pinterest. I like to slightly undercook mine so it doesn't get too mushy.

Spaghetti Squash Basics (courtesy of Martha Stewart)

In Season: Like other hard-shelled winter squash, spaghetti squash is harvested in the early fall. The squash keeps for months in cool storage, so it is available in markets throughout the winter and spring.

What to Look For: Mature spaghetti squash is oblong in shape with a creamy-yellow shell. Choose firm squash that's free of soft spots and feels heavy for its size.

How to Store: Uncut spaghetti squash keeps well in a cool, dry place for up to a month.

Now I would love to hear from you! What do you think about trying spaghetti squash instead of pasta the next time you want spaghetti sauce and meatballs? Leave a comment below and I'll be back next week with another article on Doctor as Teacher Tuesday.

3 Replies to “Best grain-free, low-carb substitute for pasta”


Hi Dr. D, the other day i came across two pasta products at Bulk Barn – one was made from Yellow Peas and the other from Black Beans. Those were the only ingredients, no wheat or flour was added at all. How would these rate on the low-carb, low-insulin diet? Would they be ok because they are high in fiber and plant-based? Thanks!


oops – forgot to add another one made from Red Lentils.

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

Hi Robert,
I would have to see the label to see the total number of carbs listed. You can use this example as a guide, one cup of regular whole wheat pasta will be approximately 50g of carbs, where in comparison one cup of spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles will be approximately 5g of carbs. To be eating a low-carb, low-insulin producing diet you should be eating approximately 50-100g carbs in total in a day.

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