The scene of the 1955 animated Disney classic Lady and the Tramp is a true classic: the female American Cocker Spaniel and the male stray mutt characters share a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and as the dogs swallow opposite ends of the same noodle, they share an iconic kiss.
Whether it is through romance or culture, pasta—the dish traditionally part of Italian cuisine—has been a comforting staple and communication tool in people’s lives for centuries.
Nowadays, pasta gets thrown into the fire as being an unhealthy meal, containing high carbohydrates—although it really depends on how you prepare pasta. Is it typical white durum wheat semolina? Is it whole grain pasta? Have you added veggies in your pasta dish? Is it gluten-free? Is it even what most people would consider pasta at all? Considering all these questions is key to reap the benefits of pasta.
I enjoy experimenting when I make pasta, flirting with different tastes and textures, and adding in various combinations of vegetables, garlic, oils and spices, which stretch out the boundaries as far as your ordinary wheat pasta and tomato sauce goes. I always say, change is good!
People sometimes discover white wheat pasta alternatives in order to treat various medical conditions, such as allergies or intolerances to gluten or wheat, Celiac disease, or Autism disorder. You may also just want a healthier way to eat your noodles.
Here are five fresh healthy pasta alternative options for you to add to your diet, changing your relationship with pasta in the process.
Whole grain wheat pasta
Whole grain wheat flour pasta has significantly more fiber and nutrients than its common durum wheat counterpart. People tend to switch to whole grain pastas when making a healthy lifestyle transition. In the process, these healthy dieters reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive issues, and cancer. When divulging in whole grain pastas you also receive several nutritional benefits, including major B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants, protein, and healthy fats. Whole grain pastas are a great alternative to get your grains for the day, and if you’re watching your weight, you’ll stay full in the process.
As part of a healthy vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, legumes are typically a main component. Different types of beans, peas, and lentils often combine for delicious and healthy dishes, which are high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, and iron, and are gluten-free.
Searching my health food store I found green or red lentils fusili (13-14 grams of protein), black bean spaghetti (21 grams), and chickpea fusili (22 grams), which offer a lot of nutritional value per 100-gram serving. The stone grounded legume options are great for meals or pasta salads. The omega-3 fatty acid content is also high in legume-grounded pastas.
Other than whole grain pastas, great whole grains to use for pasta include buckwheat, kamut, or whole spelt. Stone grounded buckwheat flour pastas are a good source of fiber and biological proteins. Ancient grains kamut and spelt also provide good sources of fiber and protein, while kamut contains selenium, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium. Spelt flour provides thiamin and niacin. Buckwheat, kamut, and spelt easily provide a greater source of fiber than your conventional wheat pastas.
If you think quinoa is great alone or mixed with salads, you should try it in pasta form. Because quinoa is a starchy seed, you would find quinoa flour paired with grain or seed flours, to create pastas. Another good source of protein and iron, you can often find quinoa flour blended with organic ingredients such as (brown) rice, amaranth, or corn (non-GMO) flours. This is also a gluten-free and wheat-free option that is filled with vitamin B. Quinoa is also good for your digestive system. Veggie up your quinoa pasta with spinach, tomatoes, green onion, or other preferred vegetables.
Let your veggies be your pasta
Zucchini pasta is something you could find at a raw food restaurant, or you could get out your peeler and make it yourself. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can shred your zucchini with a peeler. This zucchini dish can help you lower your cholesterol, while giving you plenty of fiber. It can take the shape of spaghetti or fettuccine, and is best with an oily sauce.
Plus: Add this to your pasta
The meatless meatball
Meatless meatballs? You’re probably sighing, rolling your eyes and questioning, “You’re kidding?” But, yeah—try them. Here’s a great meatless meatball recipe for you to try.
Combining four to five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with chopped garlic and your preferred spices create a simple and light pesto-like sauce for your pasta alternative.
“Healthy Pasta Alternatives: Foods: Foods That Easily Replace White Noodles,” Huffpost Living Canada web site, May 24, 2012; http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/23/healthy-pasta-alternatives_n_1539953.html, last updated June 6, 2012.
Lockwood, K., “Is Whole Wheat Pasta Healthier?” Greatist web site, Oct. 10, 2011; http://greatist.com/health/whole-wheat-pasta-healthier.
Campbell, M., “Whole-Grain Pasta vs. Regular Pasta,” SFGate web site; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/wholegrain-pasta-vs-regular-pasta-3476.html#
“6 Healthy Pastas,” Whole Living web site, Body+Soul, volume March 2008; http://www.wholeliving.com/134118/6-healthy-pastas.
“Chef John’s Meatless Meatballs,” AllRecipes.ca Canada web site; http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chef-johns-meatless-meatballs/.