Photo: Zoodles in a bowl with tomatoes

by By Sabra Leomo, Registered Dietitian

What is a zoodle you ask? A zoodle is a noodle made from zucchini, but the veggie noodle options are as abundant as the fresh vegetables available this summer.

Zoodles are an easy way to increase vegetable consumption in some of your favorite recipes. The average diet in the United States falls short of the recommended daily serving of vegetables. These recommended servings depend on a few factors such as age and gender. Two to three cups of vegetables per day is generally recommended for adults.

Kids enjoy helping pick the vegetables that you will make into veggie noodles. Turning vegetables into noodles is fun to watch! Getting kids involved in shopping and cooking can help them accept new foods and increase their daily servings of vegetables.

Another great aspect of zoodles is that they are fresh and contain fewer calories than pasta. One cup of cooked pasta contains around 190 calories and 37 grams of carbohydrate. In comparison, one cup of zoodles contains around 20 calories and 3.7 grams of carbohydrate. Zoodles are a fun and fresh way to have “pasta” without the additional calories.

Even though it is low in calories, zucchini packs a nutritional punch. It is a very good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that blocks free radicals from damaging cells in our bodies and is important for growth and repair of body tissues. Zucchini also contains fiber, which helps you feel full and regulates digestion and heart-healthy minerals such as potassium and magnesium.

The process of making veggie noodles is relatively simple. You will need a spiralizer and fresh veggies of your choice. Both handheld and countertop spiralizer options are available. You can also use a julienne peeler for long matchstick-size noodles. 

Veggie noodles go beyond just zucchini. You can try different fresh produce for different recipe options. Vegetables with a solid core tend to spiralizer easier than soft vegetables. Zucchini, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, jicama, cucumber, and taro are other options that can be made into vegetable noodles. Carrots, beets, jicama, and cucumber add color and fun texture to fresh summer salads. Check out 50 zoodle recipes at The Stingy Vegan.  An online search for vegetarian zoodle recipes will turn up tons of ideas.

Meanwhile, here are a few recipe tips you might like to consider:

  • Veggie Noodle Slaw - Replace the cabbage in coleslaw with spiralized vegetables.
  • Cold “Pasta Salad” - Raw or cooked vegetable noodles can replace traditional pasta in pasta salad. You can also mix and match veggie noodles for a colorful alternative to pasta.
  • Macaroni and Cheese - Veggie noodles are a fun and easy way to get more veggies into kid-friendly dishes. When using veggie noodles in dishes with sauces, either pat the noodles dry before using or let sauce cook down so that you don’t end up with runny sauce.
  • Hot or Cold Noodle Bowls - Raw or cooked veggie noodles work great in noodle bowls. Sesame noodle bowls, curry bowls, or pick your favorite flavor combination and add veggie noodles.

Starting with zucchini zoodles is an easy skill to master before moving on to other vegetable noodles. You can eat zoodles raw in cold dishes. For hot dishes, zucchini noodles can be sautéed or boiled for 2-3 minutes until tender. Zoodles can be stored in the refrigerator 3-4 days in an airtight container but they do not freeze well so don’t make oodles of zoodles.

This summer pick up some fresh local produce and have fun making vegetable noodles for your favorite recipes!

USDA. Choose MyPlate.gov. All About the Vegetable Group. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables.