Most people are pretty astounded by the way we eat.
Since we’re not on the “normal” healthy diet (like avoiding fats and cholesterol, or going super low carb), we get tons of questions. My favorite was when my brother jokingly asked, “Were these potatoes raised in captivity?”
And we get asked all the time about carbs. There are SO many options out there, but which types, brands, or preparation methods are healthy?
Now, some of these recommendations aren’t 100% perfect because they aren’t soaked/sprouted grains to break down the anti-nutrients, but they are very close. We really wish you could walk into any health food store, grab any pasta (or anything at all) and be sure it’s healthy. But that would just make it too easy now, wouldn’t it?
But first, here’s what we don’t buy.
The Pasta You Should Never Buy Again
We’ve written before about the dangers of processed white and wheat flour (and even multigrain), but here’s why we stay away:
- White flour is a nutrition zero. It’s literally a dead food, with no trace of natural vitamins or minerals. It’s usually enriched with vitamins, but those aren’t naturally occurring and can actually do more harm than good – like increase your chance of death. No, really.
- Wheat and white flours both inflame our gut because of the irritating anti-nutrients found.
- They both contain dangerous gluten molecules that can literally tear holes in our already-irritated gut lining – causing toxic, undigested bits of food to enter our bloodstream. This causes toxin build-up, arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many of the modern diseases we suffer from (that often our great-grand parents didn’t).
- These processed flours are addicting, and your body treats them essentially like table sugar – causing insulin spikes and weight gain. We’re pretty well versed as a society on the dangers of sugar – we know that Mountain Dew is terrible for us – but many still think that white flour should be the foundation of our diets. Thanks, Food Pyramid!
Now, let’s take a look at the healthiest pasta (or pasta substitutes) that are much better alternatives to white pasta.
What is the Healthiest Pasta you can Buy?
Einkorn Pasta – Jovial’s einkorn pasta is our go-to spaghetti noodle. It’s an heirloom grain, meaning it’s been around forever, but hasn’t been hybridized like almost all wheat today. Scientists hybridize wheat in order to increase the yield, but it also produces a much larger and more dangerous gluten molecule. Einkorn pasta is loaded with nutrients and doesn’t tear up your gut lining. It’s not the best option for a Celiac sufferer, and still has some anti-nutrients, but it’s miles better than the white junk. We’re big fans of the taste and even our non-real-foodie friends and family (aka muggles) have given the thumbs up as well.
Zucchini – okay, not a pasta, but it’s the most common non-flour substitute we use. We don’t make lasagna with noodles anymore – it’s always with zucchini. We’ll slice it up lengthwise, fry it up with egg and coconut oil, and then layer the sauce and cheese on it (we’ve even posted a recipe). Man, that’s really good, even though I struggle with veggies sometimes. We’ve read about a lot of people using a spiralizer to form noodles, and then steaming/boiling it to be used as spaghetti noodles. That’s going on the ol’ menu board soon!
Spaghetti Squash – Another one we’ve tried before. And man, it’s a ridiculously easy and fantastic ways to get veggies into your diet, and tastes great, too. After cooking, spaghetti squash, it comes out just like spaghetti! Totally where it gets that name. No more feeling guilty about eating white pasta noodles when you’ve got a healthy vegetable instead. Eat up!
Brown Rice Pasta – Another great alternative to using flour noodles altogether. Made from only brown rice, rice bran, and water, we recommend Tinkyada. Award-winning flavor doesn’t hurt either. I’ve never found rice to be terribly impactful nutrient-wise, but it’s gluten-free and isn’t processed to death.
Red Lentil Pasta – I’ve never tried this one, but I’m definitely intrigued. According to Tolerant’s website, their red lentil pasta is made from only one ingredient, and that the taste and texture could fool any pasta connoisseur (bold claim!). Each serving of their pasta equals 1 cup of veggies and has the same amount of protein as 6 ounces of chicken. It’s known to taste great AND stay firm – the two biggest check marks when going for white pasta subs. Throw in that it’s organic and gluten-free, and this seems like a winner. (I’ve also heard from people who swear by this product and don’t use any other type of pasta. Ever.)
Black Bean Pasta – This is made from – you guessed it – 100% beans. You take something icky and processed, and replace it with a natural food! That’s kinda the heart of real food eating, I’d say, especially when it’s loaded with calcium, iron, B vitamins, and fiber. I’ll be honest here, it looks gross. However, it doesn’t really taste like anything, which is what you want out of a noodle, right? It’s basically a mode of transportation for the marinara sauce to get into your mouth, Like a chip for salsa or a pizza for a pepperoni. This is another product by Tolerant (like the red lentil pasta above), we’re really digging this brand. And like most of these, it’s on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save! We’re total suckers for S & S – it’s the simple things, really.
Sprouted Flour Pastas – Lately, we’ve been on a big time sprouted spelt flour kick. It’s a little expensive, but it’s easily our favorite processed flour substitute. We used to use sprouted organic whole wheat flour, but it’s so dense and has a stronger flavor that it’s harder to cook with. Sprouted spelt is nearly flavorless, so it’s perfect in… everything. We thicken gravy with it and make cookies – everything we do with normal flour. To make a sprouted grain, they take the grain kernel, water it, and let it actually begin to sprout. This process breaks down the anti-nutrients which neutralizes the irritating (literally) phytic acid, and even increases the beneficial enzymes (which begin to metabolize the gluten). Without anti-nutrients in the way, you’ll get more iron, phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium from sprouted flour. Even celiacs can often enjoy this type of flour just fine (although if you’re not sure, I wouldn’t eat a bucket of it). A brand we’ve always relied on is Food For Life Ezekiel. We’ve bought everything from tortillas to hamburger buns to bread from them – and it’s all been great!
There are definitely other alternatives out there too (quinoa pasta, buckwheat soba, to name a few), but these are our favorite substitutes. Most of them are even gluten-free and help you avoid flour altogether, if that’s your thing.
We’ve even experimented with homemade sourdough noodles, but we’re still working on that front. By that, I mean that we failed miserably and they came out terrible. Once we get the kinks worked out, we’ll share that as well.
What other white pasta alternatives have you tried? Are you putting any of these on your next shopping list?