Chefs Swap Carbs for Veggies as Diners Eat Lighter

Cauliflower and zucchini — two often-overlooked vegetables — have become darlings of the dinner table.

Zucchini noodle dishes have been a runaway hit since they were added two years ago to the healthful side of the menu at SkinnyFats, a Las Vegas-based restaurant with five locations in that metro area.

“We were interested in adding a healthy pasta to our menu,” said SkinnyFats chef Marco Marquez. “We were really ahead of the curve on spiral noodles and ended up creating a cult following before it went mainstream.”

Currently on the menu is Zucc It, a bowl filled with zucchini noodles, eggplant, squash, peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and arrabbiata, a spicy pasta sauce; cauliflower rice, as a substitute for jasmine rice; and the restaurant’s popular CauliFire, a veggie version of breaded Buffalo chicken wings.

“It’s part of staying with the trend and giving people healthy options …without making them feel like they have to sacrifice,” Marquez said. “The other part being the creative aspect of it all. Thinking of different veggies that can be manipulated in such a way to resemble something people know has always fascinated me.”