Let’s Call a Spade a Spade: a Zoodle Is Not Pasta And It Never Will Be

The start of every year causes people to look deep inside themselves and pick out their worst qualities. Once selected, they make an unrealistic promise to themselves to completely eliminate their perceived faults only to abandon the unattainable plan a month later.

One of the most common resolutions is to eat healthy. On the surface, this seems like an easy task. Instead of candy, eat fruit. Instead of soda, drink seltzer. And instead of those dinner rolls, eat vegetables. While these changes can potentially improve your health and well-being, I do have a bone to pick with them.

A plate of pasta
A plate of pasta
Zoodles are not pasta

My problem stems from the lies we are told. When talking about healthy eating, there is always that one person who will say that these simple swaps are easy because the new food tastes “just like” whatever it is replacing. FALSE. A strawberry is never going to be better than a bag of M&Ms. Seltzer is great but does it taste like coca cola? Not at all. And a bowl full of spaghetti squash is never going to beat a bowl of spaghetti alla carbonara.

Now to be fair, I love vegetable swaps. I’m all about that cauliflower rice lifestyle. You can stir fry it with veggies, cover it in soy sauce and boom you got yourself a good bowl of fried “rice.” But does it even hold a candle to a nice carton of pork fried rice? Not at all.

Have You Heard of Zoodles?

Chicken and zucchini on a grill
Chicken and zucchini on a grill
A meal of grilled chicken and zucchini

Zoodles are noodles made out of zucchini. You buy a special machine called a zoodler and in minutes you have a plate full of healthy noodles. Load those bad boys up with sauce and cheese and you have a pretty solid meal. The question is — do they think we have all forgotten what spaghetti tastes like? Why do you have to invest in a unitasker (the bane of Alton Brown’s existence) just to make squash into a certain shape to fool yourself into eating it? If you want a big bowl of sauce on top of something healthy, just cut up the zucchini and top it with sauce. It is that easy. No one is eating a bowl full of zoodles thinking to themselves “wow, spaghetti sure has gotten fatter and squishier.”

noodles made out of zucchini
noodles made out of zucchini
Oodles of zoodles

The Lies They Tell Us

Sorry, zoodle rant over — back to my original point. Making healthy changes in your diet is something that should be commended. If you need an arbitrary date on the calendar to help you kick start these changes that’s fine too. But a lot of lifestyle experts and influencers we look to for help this time of year are doing us a disservice. They provide these healthy tips and then phrase them like they are no work at all. “Just switch your pasta to veggies,” they say. “You won’t notice a difference,” they shout from their soapboxes. But guess what? You will. And that is okay.

Chances are, if you are making a change in your diet in the new year you are familiar with how wonderful real food tastes. So when you are presented with a list of simple swaps that are indistinguishable from their predecessor, then it is easy to feel discouraged.

Never Fret — I Have a Solution

All hope is not lost. In fact, I would say there is an even simpler solution to help you continue to eat healthy into February (and hopefully beyond that but hey, we are not miracle workers). We can all stop lying to ourselves and call a spade a spade. These swaps are never going to be better than the real thing but they may help your pants fit better.

Will a slice of sweet potato have the same intoxicating aroma of freshly made toast? No. But will it taste delicious when topped with avocado and Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning? It sure will!

Can you make the perfect twirl of squash around your fork like you can with spaghetti covered in a bolognese? Not even a little bit. But man, do the caramelized edges of the roasted squash pair well with that heavy meat sauce.

Would that bowl of cauliflower and broccoli fried rice you made with the leftovers from your fridge trick your partner into thinking you ordered take out? Not a damn chance. But as long as there is soy sauce and sriracha, no one is passing on dinner.

The Takeaway

The pizza I dream about

Society tells us that the new year is for making changes, and updating your diet to include more fruits and vegetables is an admirable and worthwhile one. The only way to make this resolution last is to be realistic. If you are used to eating a certain way, giving up carbs and added sugar cold turkey may be nearly impossible.

Smart swaps here and there can help introduce you to a new way of life and put you on a sustainable path you can grow on. Try eating few more whole grains instead of simple carbohydrates. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. A few less sodas wouldn’t hurt if you wish to cut calories either.

But let’s not ruin all that is holy about food. Eat that delicious piece of cheesy garlic bread. Have that piece of chocolate. And for god’s sake when you go to an Italian restaurant don’t ask for zoodles, get the real stuff.

Carbs are amazing. In moderation they aren’t the enemy. And if there was something out there that tasted exactly like spaghetti, don’t you think we would all be eating it? Making healthy swaps is a conscious choice. By starting small, you will be able to make better food choices more often while not losing your will to live.

And sometimes, smart choices are stupid. If i’m craving pizza, don’t you dare hand me marinara sauce on an eggplant and say it tastes the same. It doesn’t. You’re lying. Get the f*ck out of my house.

Two bloggers who tackle reality — whether in science, politics, travel, or every day attempts at adult life. Find us at therealgab.com

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