If you've been doing your research lately, you know that you don't have to give up eating pasta just because white pasta isn't healthy. There are many alternatives that you can consider. What are these options? Let guest contributor Kimberley Laws be your guide.
If you have wandered down the pasta aisle at your local grocery store lately, you have likely noticed some significant changes. White noodles are having to give up some of their "elbow" room--sorry for the pun--to make way for the healthier varieties that our nutrition-conscious society demands. Even, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has evolved into several fiber-laden, vegetable-boasting styles. Yes, the durum semolina noodle no longer rules the roost.
So, what exactly are these healthy alternatives to white pasta? Here are seven of the most popular.
1. Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole wheat pasta appears to be the biggest threat to its white flour counterpart's title as the most popular noodle. Available in practically every shape and variety that a pasta connoisseur could possibly want, whole wheat pasta has a slightly nutty flavor and robust texture. It is also significantly higher in fiber, B vitamins, selenium, magnesium, and protein than its paler cousin.
2. Corn Pasta
Corn pasta, according to the editors of Food & Wine magazine, is one of the best tasting alternatives to white pasta. It is available in a wide variety of shapes and can be used to replace traditional noodles in almost any recipe. Corn pasta, obviously, contains ground corn, but it also tends to boast other ingredients including rice or quinoa. It is a healthy gluten-free alternative providing that it does not contain wheat grains. If you have gluten sensitivities, be sure to check the label before consuming.
3. Buckwheat or Soba Noodles
If you are seeking a gluten-free noodle, buckwheat or "soba" noodles are an ideal option. After all, despite its "wheaty" name, buckwheat is actually a relative of the rhubarb plant and contains no wheat at all. With high amounts of protein, dietary fiber, and a pleasant nutty flavor, buckwheat noodles will keep you feeling full without consuming a hefty helping of calories.
4. Quinoa Pasta
The editors of Food & Wine magazine also selected quinoa pasta as a delicious alternative to standard white pasta. Quinoa noodles are very high in protein, iron, and a multitude of other nutrients. Plus, they can adapt to most recipes and taste incredible.
5. Rice Pasta
Rice noodles, like their wheaty breathren, come in both white or brown. The brown is, of course, the healthier option; however, both are gluten-free. Brown rice, in particular, is very high in insoluble fiber, which is a key ingredient in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Rice noodles are also resilient, making them less susceptible to overcooking and becoming mushy.
6. Shirataki Noodles
This Asian noodle is traditionally made with water and glucomannan, but some varieties are tofu-based. The glucomannan types are very low in calories and carbohydrates, but high in water-soluble fiber. They also come in a wet or dry format and have little or no flavor of their own--meaning they will not compete with your favorite sauce for attention.
7. Spaghetti Squash
Although this is not actually a pasta, its appearance and texture is very noodle-like--making it an ideal alternative to white spaghetti. When cooked, the inner flesh of this squash looks very much like strands of spaghetti. Simply add your best marinara sauce and you have a gluten-free dish that offers a host of nutritional benefits.
Yes, thanks to the ever-expanding pasta aisles, modern-day pasta lovers can now enjoy an abundance of noodle flavors, textures, and appearances. The supermarket has become a pasta paradise. So get adventurous and treat your taste buds to a new noodle. Your body--and your palate--will thank you.
What is your favorite alternative to white pasta? Why?