I get a lot of questions about the products I buy at the grocery store and personally use on a daily basis because readers know I’ve done the investigative work. One of those questions is always, “What are the healthiest pastas available and which ones do you recommend?”. There are a lot of options out there and it can be a daunting task trying to navigate the maze of choices and I’m here to help.
First, let’s talk about what you won’t see on my list of staples. I don’t like to buy or make wheat (white, enriched, semolina, or whole wheat) based pastas for a few reasons:
- Enriched white pasta has been completely stripped of its nutrients and likely chemically bleached.
- Most wheat or semolina pasta has been hybridized and damaged nutritionally during processing.
- The consumption of wheat flour increases inflammation in the body and is extremely acidic.
- Wheat flour can disrupt the good intestinal bacteria in your digestive system.
- Wheat flour has been shown to cause addiction, making you crave and eat more.
So without wheat flour pastas, what is left? Fortunately, there are a lot!
Here Are My Top Pasta Recommendations:
- Zucchini Noodles – Wonderful zucchini & squash vegetables can be made into noodles using a tool called a spiralizer (available online here)…Ok, I know this isn’t technically pasta, but boy, does it taste like pasta! If you are trying to go grain-free or want a less heavy alternative to traditional pasta, this is a fantastic way to get your pasta fix. You can eat the noodles raw or warmed slightly in a skillet with sauce. Also, if you don’t want to use a spiralizer, you can cut the zucchini or squash into thin slices like lasagne and bake them. Remember to choose non-GMO and organic zucchini and squash, as the majority of them grown in this country are made with genetically modified seeds.
- Spaghetti Squash Noodles - Spaghetti Squash is not something I knew about for a while and I found out most people don’t either. After discovering it, I told everyone about it and they were like “Eh! what? when you cook it, it comes out like real spaghetti?” I responded “DUH! That’s why they call it spaghetti squash!” This is one of the most versatile pasta substitutes available. It has 1/4 of the calories of traditional pasta per cup, meaning you can eat and eat and eat some more. One of my favorite ways to eat this squash is straight up with homemade spicy tomato sauce and raw goat’s milk hard cheese. Heavenly. Also, check out my recipe for spaghetti squash casserole with quinoa – it’s really good!
- Bean Pastas – A company by the name of Explore Asian makes the most delicious pasta using 100% mung beans. This pasta is extremely high in protein and fiber and gets you super full really quick. The noodles are a bit more chewy than traditional pasta. The recipe for fettuchini on the back of the package works like a charm and is my favorite way to make these. They are available online here. Also check out Tolerant brand that makes lentil based pastas here.
- Soba Buckwheat Noodles – I love buckwheat! It’s actually not a grain but a fruit seed and is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet. They are high in protein and fiber and extremely satisfying. Remember to look for 100% buckwheat – there are a lot of impostors out there that use a blend of wheat and buckwheat that I don’t recommend. Eden makes 100% buckwheat noodles and is available online here. Orgran makes 90% buckwheat, 10% rice spirals and is available online here.
- Ancient Grain Pastas - Ancient grains are grains that haven’t been hybridized over time and are more nutrient dense than the wheat that is produced today. I’ve loved the recent innovations in this category, including the quinoa, amaranth, and brown rice combination Tru Roots came up with. They have several different varieties – elbows, penne and spaghetti available online and in most natural health stores. The elbows have been a staple in my house for homemade mac & cheese (recipe coming soon!). Also, other ancient grain pastas I recommend include Vita Spelt pasta, Jovial Einkorn Pasta, Quinoa Pasta and this Eden Kamut Quinoa Blend.
- Sprouted Grain Pastas – This pasta is hearty and definitely more dense than most pastas available, but I love the nutritional profile. Most sprouted grain pastas have wheat, but it’s not wheat flour – it’s the whole wheat kernel sprouted before processing, which increases the fiber and protein available and removes the phytic acid that makes wheat more digestible. The sprouting process also increases the beneficial enzymes, vitamin and mineral content. People who are gluten intolerant can sometimes enjoy this type of wheat without any issues because the increased enzymes metabolize the starch (gluten) in the wheat. My favorite brand is Ezekiel Food for Life, which is available in most natural foods stores and online. I like the combination of ingredients that also include other beneficial whole grains and beans: organic sprouted whole grain wheat, organic sprouted whole grain barley, organic sprouted whole grain millet, organic sprouted whole lentils, organic sprouted whole soybeans, organic sprouted whole grain spelt.
I will leave you with this tip from Dr. Andrew Weil – Remember to cook your pasta al dente (when it has “tooth” to it) because it has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.
What Are Your Favorite Pastas? Share with me and others in the comments below…
If you know someone who loves pasta, please share this post with them. Who knows maybe they’ll invite you over for some yummy delicious & nutritious noodles!
P.S. Remember to check out The Eating Guide Program which has a bunch of yummy healthy recipes using the best ingredients and foods on the planet! You get a monthly calendar with weigh-loss recipes, exactly what to eat and which groceries to buy. Signing up for this program helps to support all the Food Babe investigations – so thank you!