Pasta is one of those things that I will probably always eat too much of. When I found out that I had to be gluten-free, pasta was the first thing I sought out. This was back in the days when the Barilla+ (pasta with protein) was new on the market and all of the rice pasta you could buy was kind of terrible. Enter, superfood pasta.
These days, there are plenty of gluten-free pastas that range from neutral/wheat-like flavor to black bean pastas that taste…like black beans. Over the years, I’ve become a connoisseur of all things gluten-free pasta. This past year as I have been trying to eat a bit healthier, I’ve been trying out superfood pastas. Some are made from beans or lentils and others from things like beets and turnips. Some are tasty while others are flat out terrible.
Choosing these pastas does help balance out basic pasta and sauce dinners as well as help to reduce the number of carbs you eat. Some of them add protein while others sneak in some veggies. Now, they won’t replace a serving of vegetables, but any vegetables you can add into your diet helps you get more nutrients (something many adults struggle with).
Cybele’s Free to Eat Pasta in Green Lentil, Parsnip and Cauliflower and Red Lentil, Red Pepper, and Tomato
This is some life-changing pasta. The Green Lentil, Parsnip and Cauliflower one has a neutral taste, but for a grain free pasta has shocking texture. By that, I mean that it is pretty comparable in texture and flavor to regular pasta. Except it is made from lentils and veggies. You’ll notice these are the only lentil-based pastas on the list. Most lentil pastas taste strongly of lentils and don’t play nice with pasta sauce. But these do. My second favorite is the Red Lentil, Red Pepper and Tomato pasta which has a little more flavor but still works well with a variety of sauces.
This chickpea pasta is the first of this type of pasta that I saw my gluten-eating friends start buying. The bean flavor isn’t as pronounced as I expected it to be and it does pack a punch with the protein. Sadly, it doesn’t have extra veggies like the Cybele’s, but that doesn’t matter. This pasta holds up well to both boiling and in pasta salads or for leftovers. (I like pasta salads for lunch because they don’t need to be heated and can be filled with veggies). This pasta is also the easiest to find in grocery stores.
This pasta balances black bean flavor with rice and quinoa to ensure that the bean flavor isn’t overpowering. I prefer this with garlicy sauces such as pesto or just sauteed with some veggies and garlic after cooking. This pasta has a low glycemic index and lots of protein like the Banza. It also has a blend of flours (unlike the Banza) but no added veggies (so not as super as Cybele’s). This pasta can look a little funky with some sauces, but that doesn’t change the way it tastes. I also like to use this one to make pasta salads or even as a base for buddha bowls in place of cooked grains for a higher protein content.
Superfood pasta is a great healthy swap
Making healthy swaps has been key to me building a healthier diet. I’m not eating fake food (low fat, sugar-free processed junk), but rather I am choosing healthier options. When faced with a dessert craving, I choose fruit and dessert hummus (yes, it’s real and quite tasty). When I want an easy pasta dinner, I’ve been making the swaps above. Trading out my grain-filled gluten-free pastas for these superfood versions means even comfort food is relatively healthy. That’s a huge win in my book.
Mary Fran Wiley is a well known gluten-free and positive living blogger from Chicago where she writes Curiouser and Curiouser, maintains the Chronic Positivity Project, founded the organization hope.dance and has been featured in Allergic Living Magazine, Care2.com and Today.com.