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  • Sara Bullock

The "Perfect" Pasta: Which Healthy Pasta Alternative is Right for You?




Pasta is a staple in many of our diets. Whether it be for taste, convenience, or comfort, 59% of U.S. adults eat noodles or pasta dishes at least once a week. According to the Statista Research Department, 267.89 million Americans used spaghetti/pasta sauce in 2019, and this figure is projected to increase to 275.27 million in 2023.


The all-time comfort food, pasta often gets a bad reputation in the health food world, as it is indisputably packed with carbohydrates. According to Carolyn Brown, RD, a nutritionist at the private practice, Food Trainers, in New York City, “the simple carbs [found in white pasta] quickly translate to sugar in our bodies, and can increase blood sugar levels quickly.” While this traditional pasta type in moderate amounts is not going to steal from us our hard-earned healthy lifestyles, read on to learn more about six pasta alternatives, especially now that we are all cooking from home more than usual.


ZUCCHINI (‘ZOODLES’)


  • How to make it: Shred, julienne, or cut zucchini into ribbons with a peeler. Treat like angel hair, and cook until barely tender, 1 to 2 minutes, then drain.

  • Health and Nutrition Highlights:

  • Low calorie

  • Naturally gluten-free

  • Packed with a number of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A,C, B and potassium)

  • Perfect for anyone diagnosed with diabetes, trying to lower their blood sugar, or following a keto diet

  • Taste: Absorbs pasta sauce and its flavor, as the zucchini loses its fibrous texture when you cook it. So, it will taste like whatever sauce you pair with it.


SHIRATAKI NOODLES (‘MIRACLES NOODLES’)



  • How to make it: Usually sold in packages in the produce section alongside tofu. The only cooking required is draining the liquid and rinsing them off.

  • Health and Nutrition Benefits:

  • Primarily made of fiber

  • Contain virtually no fat, carbs, or calories

  • Gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan

  • Taste: Clear in appearance and quickly absorb whatever flavors they’re cooked with.

  • Try it on Thrive Market: Wonder Noodles, Shirataki Fettuccine


BROWN RICE PASTA



  • How to make it: Prepare like “normal” pasta.

  • Health and Nutrition Benefits:

  • Great source of protein and magnesium (good for heart health, naturally lowering cholesterol)

  • Contains fiber

  • Gluten-free

  • Contains impressive amount of vitamins and minerals

  • Taste: Pasta has a nutty flavor, and the texture tastes similar to the real thing.

  • Try it on Thrive Market: Brown Rice Pasta – Spirals


LENTIL PASTA




  • How to make it: Prepare like “normal” pasta.

  • Health and Nutrition Benefits:

  • Great source of natural protein

  • Contributes important vitamins and nutrients to our diet

  • High in iron and fiber

  • Perfect for low-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian diets

  • Taste: Tastes similar to regular pasta, with a subtle lentil taste.

  • Try it on Thrive Market: Organic Green Lentil Rotini


CHICKPEA PASTA



  • How to make it: Prepare like “normal” pasta.

  • Health and Nutrition Benefits:

  • 3x the fiber and 30% fewer net carbs than traditional pasta

  • Plant-based source of protein and fiber

  • Sustainable food source

  • High amounts of iron and potassium

  • Taste: Distinct nuttiness to the taste.

  • Try it on Thrive Market: Rotini Chickpeas Pasta


QUINOA PASTA



  • How to make it: Prepare like “normal” pasta.

  • Health and Nutrition Benefits:

  • High in protein

  • Gluten-free

  • One of the few plant based foods that contains all 9 essential amino acids

  • High in fiber, iron, magnesium and vitamin B

  • Taste: Doesn’t get mushy when cooked. Tastes exactly like regular pasta.

  • Try it on Thrive Market: Organic Quinoa Rotini Pasta


If you have pasta-based meals twice a week, maybe you can try to substitute once a week for one of these healthy alternatives. Or, try doing half regular pasta and half alternative if you aren’t ready to fully commit. Do whatever you think will best make your body happy, and in the end, let us know which pasta alternative you like the best!


Would you guys like to see a 6AM Health pasta dish in our Fresh Fridges? We've been working on some recipes but let us know what kinds of pasta alternatives you'd like to grab on the go!



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