Today I am talking about pasta. Coming from a 1/2 Italian background, pasta plays a huge role in my life. Nothing beats Nonna’s pasta!
I 100% believe in eating what you want and what feels good for you, pasta included. However, I wanted to compile a list of my favourite pasta options that may be more conducive to some of your health goals, and talk about some more nutrient-dense pasta options, if that is your thing!
Another disclaimer is that these pasta options are not all the same, nutritiously, and can not necessarily substitute one another. I highlight some ways to include the different options, to hopefully give you a better idea of how they can all play a role in a balanced diet.
My Favourite Pasta Options
1. Lentils or Chickpea Pasta
These pasta options contain roughly 21 g of protein, and ~10 g of fibre, making this a very nutrient-dense option. I enjoy lentil or chickpea pasta with pesto (see: recipe) or tomato sauce. When I enjoy lentil or chickpea pasta, I do not worry about having a protein along with it, whereas if I have another type of pasta, I always ensure I have a good source of protein to help balance my blood sugar. Lentil or chickpea pasta, with sauce + veg is a balanced, delicious meal option.
Brands: Chickpea Pasta and Explore Cuisine
2. Egg Pasta
Egg pasta is wheat pasta made with eggs and traditionally found in Italian pasta brands. I love pasta made with eggs because it actually contains protein, roughly about 12 g per serving. It is not a full serving, so I would still add some protein to your meal, but it will be a bit more stabilizing to your blood sugar. Keep in mind, egg pasta does not contain fibre, so you would still want to load up your plate with vegetables, as well as a bit more protein and a healthy fat!
Brands: Some brands that I know of are Caponi, Benedetto and Spinosi, however you can check the ingredients and they should contain wheat and eggs as the only two ingredients.
3. Kamut or Spelt
A higher-fibre option to white pasta, these ancient grains provide a nice alternative to whole wheat pasta and can be up to 10g of fibre per serving. They are a bit more grainy than semolina wheat, but less grainy than whole wheat. Ancient grains contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, even when they are milled into flour. You can replace any pasta with a kamut or spelt pasta to add some variety.
Brands: Eden Organics
4. Brown Rice
Brown rice pasta is a great gluten-free alternative, and quite accessible/easy to find. Most grocery stores carry brown rice pasta now, and it can replace any pasta. The only issue is that it can over cook easily, and so you have to watch the pot! This is generally not a great source of fibre, so again I would add your veggies to the sauce or on the side.
Brands: Rizopia, Tinkyada
5. Spirulized Vegetables or Spaghetti Squash
Before I get an eye roll for insinuating that vegetables replace pasta, hear me out! Firstly, I do not think spirulized zucchini replaces pasta. I think that spirulized vegetables, with a tasty sauce, can be a nutrient-dense option and a way to add more vegetables to your diet. I have a lot of clients who find sauce to be the best part of pasta and enjoy a tomato bolognese, or shrimp with pesto on a plate of zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash equal to that of pasta. To spirulized vegetables, I would add a source of protein, healthy fat + even some more vegetables to make it a well balanced meal.
I love pesto, and find it quite easy and versatile. You can add vegetables like kale or arugula, and use any nut or seed that you have on hand.
3 big handfuls or 2.5 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1 handful or 1/2 cup nuts/seeds of choice ( I used sunflower seeds)
2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic
1. Add all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Add more olive oil until desired consistency.
2. I added the pesto to chickpea pasta and topped a big bowl of arugula!