Unfortunately, pasta has gained a bad rep in some groups. Carbs are often accused of causing weight gain, heart disease, and various other problems — just as fat once was. While avoiding carbs can be helpful for some people, this does not mean that all carbs are unhealthy. It’s true that refined carbs have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance. Additionally, simple carbs like refined pasta are digested very quickly, leading to increased hunger and a higher risk of overeating. However, like many foods, it is a-okay to consume in moderation. But if you are actively seeking ways to minimize your refined carbohydrate intake or are simply finding yourself bored of the basic spaghetti and tomato sauce combo, we have some great options for you to explore!

Alternatives to semolina and durum wheat pasta:

Brown Rice Pasta: Brown rice pasta is a good source of fibre, minerals and antioxidants that can optimize health and prevent chronic disease. Its mild flavour and chewy texture make it a great substitute for most traditional types of pasta.

High Protein Pasta: We’ve discovered a brand of protein packed and high fibre pasta that we are huge fans of! “Felicetti” is made in Italy, using red lentils and whole wheat. Here is the link to the product: https://well.ca/products/felicetti-organic-lentil-and_151695.html. It can also be found at local health stores in town. At 18 grams of protein a serving, we’re hooked!

Chickpea Pasta:

Chickpea pasta is a newer type of gluten-free pasta that has recently garnered a good deal of attention among health-conscious consumers. It’s very similar to regular pasta but with a hint of chickpea flavor and a slightly more chewy texture. It’s also a high-protein, high-fiber alternative, packing about 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber into each 57-gram serving. Protein and fiber have a filling effect and can help reduce your calorie intake throughout the day to aid weight control.

Quinoa Pasta: this is a gluten-free substitute for regular pasta that’s typically made from quinoa blended with other grains, such as corn and rice. It’s often described as having a slightly grainy texture with a nutty flavour. As one of the few plant-based complete proteins available, quinoa delivers a hearty dose of all nine essential amino acids that your body needs. Quinoa is also a good source of several other important vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, copper and iron.

Here are some homemade pasta sauce ideas. As always, we cannot stress enough that the key is fresh and wholesome ingredients!

Pesto: 

This is one of my favourite pasta sauces, but I’m not a huge fan of the overly salty and oil-heavy commercialized versions of it. Luckily, there are so many different ways that it can be made at home! Typically, pine nuts and a mix of herbs and leafy greens blitzed up will yield a scrumptious homemade pesto. Avocado can be used to make your sauce extra creamy and cut down on the oil. Making it at home also allows you to control the sodium content.

Recipe idea: https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/lightened-up-pesto-a-recipe-for-creamy-avocado-basil-pesto/

Tomato Sauce:

A staple, and so simple to make! If you have some extra time on your hands, buy a box of fresh tomatoes and a cup or so if basil leaves and make a more wholesome version of the sauce and jar it yourself, to avoid the preservatives and retain more of the tomatoes’ nutrients.

Recipe idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfANZyY2fDU

Pasta alla Norma:

This is a Sicilian sautéed eggplant and tomato sauce pasta dish! You can use breadcrumbs as a dairy free option instead of cheese. This was actually a very common substitute in Sicilian households during difficult economic times when cheese was just too expensive.

Recipe idea: https://kitchenswagger.com/simplified-pasta-alla-norma-recipe/

Aglio di Olio:

If you are not worried about using oil, you can make a simple delicious sauce full of healthy fats just by using a high quality extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, and garlic and chili flakes if desired. 

Recipe idea: https://pinchandswirl.com/pasta-aglio-e-olio-pasta-with-garlic-and-oil/

Meatless Bolognese:

A tomato sauce with mushrooms or lentils instead of ground beef is a delicious way to cut down on red meat while still enjoying a hearty “beefed up” (so to speak) tomato sauce with your pasta.  

Recipe idea: https://www.deliciouseveryday.com/mushroom-bolognese-recipe-vegan/

Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-pasta-healthy https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-free-pasta https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-refined-carbs-are-bad

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