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Race Fueling

Get Creative With Your Carbs

Refine and upgrade your go-to plate of pasta with these simple, tasty tips.

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Despite being dragged through the mud during the low-carb craze and with the rise in “Paleo” eating, spaghetti has and will surely continue to be a favorite food for legions of athletes. It’s a love affair largely attributed to all those carbohydrates in a pile of pasta that helps fuel hard-charging muscles. It’s also the no-fuss preparation. Boil water, open box, voila! But don’t settle for a plate of uninspiring refined noodles drowned in sugary jarred tomato sauce. Here’s how to transform your plate of spaghetti from the ground up.

Oodles of Noodles

These days, athletes have more spaghetti alternatives than ever—a culinary trend we love! Here are some to twirl your forks in when jonesing for a pasta night.

Whole Wheat
Providing higher levels of fiber and nutrients, pasta made with 100 percent whole wheat is a significant upgrade from white pasta. Also try noodles made with ancient grains like spelt and Kamut for different flavor and nutrient profiles.

These quick-cooking, tawny Japanese noodles are made with nutty-tasting buckwheat flour that packs in more protein. Unlike Western-style noodles, soba should be rinsed immediately after draining to wash away excess starch.

When gluten-free pastas first emerged, most left a gummy mess in your pot. However taste and texture have improved greatly. Seek out noodles made with brown rice or quinoa. Most are best prepared al dente or the short end of package directions.

Spaghetti squash
A favorite among the Paleo community, the cooked flesh of spaghetti squash pulls apart into slightly nutty tasting noodle-like strands that are rich in vitamin C. Use as you would grain-based spaghetti.

RELATED: The 10 Best Carbohydrate Sources For Endurance Athletes

Get Sauced

Spaghetti always screams for a great sauce. These are guaranteed to transform your noodles from ho-hum to yum.

Smoky marinara
Why use lackluster store-bought when making your own flavorful red sauce is a cinch? Blend 1 pound plum tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add to saucepan with 3 tablespoons olive oil and simmer 30 minutes.

Spinach hemp pesto
Hemp seeds infuse pesto for your pasta with a nutty flavor, plus a substantial amount of protein and a range of vital minerals. Blend together 1 cup spinach, 1 cup basil, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 2 garlic cloves, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Almond sauce
Give noodles some Asian flair along with a boost of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat courtesy of almond butter. Blend together 1/3 cup unsalted almond butter, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 teaspoons Sriracha, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger and juice of 1/2 lime.

RELATED: Pros’ Favorite No-Pasta Pre-Race Dinners

Extra, Extra!

Try these add-ons to make your pasta taste that much closer to gourmet.

Smoked mussels
Pull back the lid on these smoky swimmers to give your bowl of noodles a huge dose of vitamin B12, which helps keep nerve cells healthy.

A few dollops of this creamy cheese provide muscle-friendly whey protein.

Mushroom powder
Pulverize dried mushrooms into a powder using a mini food processor, coffee grinder or spice grinder, and sprinkle over pasta for an umami bomb.

Ground bison
Get your game on and make Bolognese with bison, which has been found to be nutritionally superior to industrialized beef.

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