National Vegetarian Week is highlighting the pleasures and benefits of eating a meat-free diet. Whether you’re a vegetarian virgin, gluten intolerant or looking for a low-carb alternative to pasta, noodles and rice, we’ve a few vegetable alternatives to the traditional. Low cost, low calorie, nutrient dense and gluten free, these pasta substitutes are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

They’re also very easy to make and cook with, and take less time to cook through than dried pasta or rice.

Use firm vegetables for your pasta substitutes such as courgette, carrot, squash, sweet potato or leek. Once prepared, just cook in a little olive oil over a low to medium heat for five minutes. A splash of stock will add extra flavour. Then use as you would your traditional pasta.

The substitutes have been christened with names that will encourage children to try the dishes too: parsnip noodles become poodles and broccoli stem noodles are boodles.

Vegetables work well as substitutes because of their texture. They can be boiled, fried, roasted, or baked to create all kinds of dishes: just remember they don’t take long to cook!

To create vegetarian pasta, it’s worth investing in a spiraliser or a mandolin, small kitchen tools that make veg prep quick and easy. Prepare your vegetables in the same way you normally would (wash, peel if required, cut off the ends), then pop it into your spiraliser or onto your mandolin, and in a matter of minutes your pasta will be ready.

Broccoli and cauliflower are fantastic grain-free alternatives to rice. Easy, versatile and delicious, they’re also a great way to sneak in extra servings of vegetables onto plates. What child, big or little, wouldn’t love green rice!

Simply pop your vegetables into a blender and whizz until it resembles rice, then cook in a saucepan or wok with a little cooking oil and seasoning. Your amazing meal will be ready in minutes.

For lots of people, a lower carbohydrate diet can support with weight loss, balanced blood sugar, increased energy and better overall health. You’re increasing the nutritional density of your diet and increasing your fibre, which will leave you full and satisfied.

Try vegetable alternatives to pasta, rice and noodles this National Vegetarian Week – you just might make the switch permanently.

For a Vegan and gluten free basil avocado pasta recipe click here.

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