Lighter and full of flavor.

Hello, zucchini. You look so different. Same for you squashes, beets, daikon and other garden favorites. All it takes is a few quick strokes or turns of a knife, peeler or kitchen appliance, and even the most common vegetable can be completely transformed. Suddenly, they’re standing in for pasta. Who’s hungry for healthy light meals that even kids will like piling up on forks? Let’s open the knife drawer or kitchen cabinet, and get to work.

You probably already have what you need.

All it takes to cut veggies into ribbons or long shreds is a sharp knife or hand peeler. Depending on the produce, you’ll find that certain tools work better with certain veggies. A hand peeler works well to remove the outer skin of a softer, moister vegetable like a cucumber, but a sharp knife might be better suited for slicing produce that’s harder and denser such as daikon radish. The key is uniformity with the finished product. A consistent finished size means the veggies cook quickly and evenly for just the right flavor and texture.

Crank up the volume.

There are several popular appliances on the market that cut veggies into spirals, and no matter which one you use, all it takes is a few minutes to create mounds of veggies that rival conventional pasta in terms of shape and length. Veggie noodles — called zoodles when they’re made from zucchinis — are an ideal substitute for reducing carbs and boosting fiber and plant-based nutrients. A quick sauté is an ideal approach for busy weeknight meals. Veggie noodles are also perfect in salads or used in place of pasta in a dish such as a mozzarella baked spaghetti.

Presto pesto.

Here’s a 35 minute recipe that makes use of abundant summer produce and can be modified in colder months to use with fall and winter squash. Chicken with Veggie Noodles & Basil Pea Pesto is as delicious as it is healthy and family-friendly. Note, in particular, the pesto. It’s made with peas (frozen for convenience) plus fresh basil leaves, garlic and lemon for a creamy, well-balanced dressing to mix in with the veggie pasta.

Love noodles but looking for alternatives? Start slicing, shredding and spiraling. Veggie noodles tie together great flavor and creative new ideas for healthy meals.