Mm. Noodles. They seem so simple and, yet, they are responsible for some of our favorite dishes. Yes, lasagna, manicotti, ravioli, spaghetti, and the supreme comfort food--macaroni and cheese--all owe their existence to the humble noodle.
But the noodle has recently come under the scrutiny of health and nutrition experts. White flour, gluten, and carbs have been linked to a host of illnesses and, sadly, white pasta is found guilty of having all three--in abundance.
Does this mean that health-minded pasta lovers must bid farewell to their favorite fusilli? Not at all. Thankfully, there are many alternatives to the white noodle--nourishing options that offer nutritional benefits without sacrificing great taste. Here are a few.
1. Whole Wheat Pasta
In North America, this is by far the most popular alternative to white pasta and can be found at most supermarkets. This full-bodied noodle has a nutty flavor and its robustness enables it to handle substantial sauces without getting mushy.
It offers far more fiber, protein, and B vitamins than its white cousin, as well as iron, folic acid, selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
2. Soba Noodle
Made from buckwheat--which has no wheat at all, by the way--this Japanese noodle is an excellent alternative to spaghetti. This nutty-flavored substitute for traditional pasta is an excellent source of protein and dietary fibre.
3. Brown Rice Pasta
All rice pastas--brown or white--are a gluten-free alternative to wheat pastas, but the brown varieties pack a greater nutritional punch. With a mild flavor, brown rice pasta is high in insoluble fiber, which plays an important role in a healthy digestive tract. It also boasts a sizeable dose of protein, zinc, and iron. Just be sure to give your cooked rice noodles an extra rinse under hot water as they tend to be starchier than their wheat counterparts.
4. Black Bean Spaghetti
If you are chasing protein, black bean spaghetti is an ideal choice. Plus, this noodle's black hue will add a splash of color and interest to any dish.
5. Corn Pasta
Corn pasta, as you have likely guessed, is made from ground corn, but it often has rice or quinoa in it as well. Some brands do contain wheat, so individuals seeking gluten-free pasta should read the label when selecting a suitable corn pasta.
Corn pasta is available in a wide variety of shapes and makes an excellent substitute for white pasta in many of your favorite dishes. In fact, the editors of Food & Wine selected corn pasta as one of their top two picks out of twenty different gluten-free pasta varieties.
6. Quinoa Pasta
Quinoa pasta was the other favored choice by the editors of Food & Wine, making it the perfect choice for any pasta dish or any sauce. It is very high in protein, iron, and many vitamins and minerals. Plus, it is digested slowly, meaning that it will curb your appetite longer.
Yes, there is good news for all you noodle lovers. You can embrace pasta without feeling guilty. Say farewell to the simple semolina variety and opt for one of its healthier and delicious cousins. Buon appetito!
What is your favorite white pasta alternative? Why?
Kimberley Lawsis a freelance writer, avid blogger, and lover of noodles, although she loves to eat them el dente with butter (foodies everywhere gasp loudly). She loves to write about a plethora (one of her favorite words) of topics including custom cars, travel, pop culture, food, and the best online degree programs. You can follow her neurotic musings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.
Image courtesy of photos.com.