Spaghetti, fusilli, lasagna, ziti, penne...this deliciously carby list goes on and on. If we could all have pasta on our plates every day, the world would probably be a happier place. This filling starch can of course fit into our diets in moderation, but maybe not as the star of every single meal. If you’re looking for simple and nutritious ways to swap out plain ol’ pasta, we’ve got you covered with satisfying subs you’ll love!
1. Chickpea Pasta
Chickpea pasta entered the chat only about a decade back. In 2014, Banza began this bean-based revolution in Detroit, Michigan. Since its inception, people around the world have jumped on the chickpea bandwagon. Since whole grains, beans, and legumes are major parts of the Mediterranean diet, this pasta fits right in. Banza’s gluten-free penne, rotini, cavatappi, and shells are made with only 4 ingredients—chickpeas, pea starch, tapioca, and xanthan gum. Stacked up to spaghetti, Banza is packed with 50% more protein, three times the fiber, and 25% fewer net carbs. The best part? It walks like pasta, talks like pasta, and tastes like pasta.
2. Lentil Pasta
If high protein is a priority for you, we have to put you onto lentil pasta. The supermarket brand staple, Barilla, created a version with 1 ingredient only, red lentil flour. A 3.5 oz. serving boasts 23 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber. It’s also certified gluten-free! Their nutty and slightly sweet flavor lends itself well to savory soups, salads, and veggie pasta dishes. The only possible downside of lentil pasta is that it can come out a tad soggier than wheat varieties and can easily be overcooked. This is due to the lack of gluten and low starch levels. All in all, it definitely gives regular pasta a run for its money!
You can’t get more low-cal than zucchini noodles. Whether you’re buying them pre-packaged or spiraling them yourself, zoodles are an easy and super healthy switch up to spaghetti. They’re high in antioxidants, vitamins, and rich in fiber. Their fiber content not only helps with digestion, but also can improve heart health. Although zoodles don’t have the same flavor and feel as traditional pasta, they’re similar in look and totally tasty. Don’t feel like doing any of the prep? Try them out in our Baked Turkey Meatballs & Zoodles dish.
4. Shirataki Noodles
These long, white noodles have a couple of nicknames. Shirataki, konjac, or miracle noods, have quickly made their way into the food scene. These semi-clear strands are made with glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant. These noodles contain almost no carbs and are basically all H20, with a 97% to 3% breakdown of water to fiber. As a result, these magical noodles are zero calories! Glucomannan is a viscous, soluble fiber, which is great for digestion and reducing blood sugar levels. Use shirataki noodles in stir frys or as a stand-in for lo mein. They’re also an amazing alt for ramen, as the instant variety is high in sodium and lacks fiber, vitamins, and minerals. f you’re craving Italian, stir marinara sauce in with your shirataki or melt in butter and sharp parm.
5. Protein Pasta
Brands are now whipping up an amalgamation of the above pastas and semolina flour—marketing it as “protein pasta.” This way, you’re still reaping some health benefits while staying true to pasta’s flavor and texture. Barilla also took a stab at this brand-new concept, labeling it their Protein+ line. The pasta is made from multi grains, chickpeas, lentils, and peas. Although this version isn’t gluten-free, it’s still packed with 13 grams of protein and plenty of fiber.
Important PSA: If you want pasta, have the penne. The best diet is a balanced one, and that can include all your favorite foods. When you do want lunch or dinner to be a little lighter, reach for the above alternatives!