Pasta is the best food on the planet—this is undeniable and I will not hear otherwise. But it also isn’t necessarily the most healthful thing you can eat. Many types of pasta are highly refined and don’t offer much in the way of nutrition, and once you slather yours in cheese, you’re pretty much left with a dinner that’s not helping you keep that waistline in check. Luckily, there are some new types of pasta that are higher in fiber and protein, meaning you can indulge without fears about empty calories and the inevitable sugar crash. Here are some of our favorites.
Everyone is obsessing over chickpea pasta. Even Bon Appetit writers like it, and that’s saying something! Banza is arguably the most popular brand, and it’s not only gluten free but much higher in protein and fiber than your average pasta—it contains 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving. If you’re not ready to branch out quite yet, they also sell a packaged mac and cheese version that can ease the transition.
Yes, this trendy seed has even found its way into a noodle. Not only is it gluten free, research from the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that quinoa pasta reduces blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels better than other gluten-free pastas. The brand Andean Dream is a good option, as it contains 100 percent quinoa, as opposed to many other brands that contain mostly corn and a little quinoa… much less healthy.
Yes, this Asian staple is on the list, and packed with nutritional benefits… so that basically makes your weekly takeout habit healthy. Soba is made from buckwheat, and this classic Japanese pasta is typically served cold, which means it’s perfect for a lighter pasta salad in the summer. Soba is lower in both calories and carbs than traditional pasta, but again, make sure you’re buying pure buckwheat soba noodles and not a mix of multiple processed flours. You can find soba noodles in most well-stocked grocery stores or you can scout out an Asian market.
Honorable Mention: Veggie Noodles
The spiralizer has a place of honor in my kitchen and I use it often, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that “zoodles” (spiralized vegetables) will ever replace noodles. While they’re delicious and obviously full of health benefits, they don’t make a full, satisfying meal. I like to make dinner with half zoodles and half regular pasta to reap the benefits of both—a little delicious, a little dangerous. Pasta is meant to be a celebration of goodness, not guilt! So eat without fear.