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100 whole grain pasta

Pasta has gotten a bad rap over the years for being unhealthy, which is why carb lovers everywhere rejoiced when brands started marketing whole wheat options. Whole grains are healthy, they reasoned, so that kind of pasta must be the answer to their eating-well dilemma.

But while the latter may be more nutrient-dense, the former sure does taste better.

So, do you really have to sacrifice flavor for health benefits? We tapped sports dietitian Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D. to find out.

The Claim:

Whole wheat pasta is healthier than white pasta, because it’s packed with nutrients such as complex carbs, protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and zinc. On the other hand, white pasta is made of refined carbs, meaning it has been stripped of many nutrients during its processing.

The Evidence:

Here’s how they stack up, nutrition-wise: One serving (2 ounces) of whole wheat pasta contains 180 calories, 39 grams of carbs, 8 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. One serving (2 ounces) of white pasta contains 200 calories, 42 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, some iron, but no magnesium, iron, or zinc.

So what does that mean, really? Refined grains have been shown to spike your blood sugar and insulin levels because they’re digested much more quickly than complex carbs. They’re also not as filling as complex carbs, so you may be more likely to overeat, which can lead to obesity and its associated diseases.

Complex carbs are your body’s main source of fuel on a ride—if you don’t get enough, there’s a good chance you’ll bonk. Protein helps build and repair your muscles, while fiber helps stabilize your blood sugar and keep your digestive system working the way it should. As for the minerals, magnesium maintains a healthy blood pressure and keeps your bones strong, iron gives you energy, and zinc helps boost your immune system and aids in healing any cuts or bruises you might have gotten on the road.

The Verdict:

While whole wheat pasta does have a bunch of legitimate health benefits, Rizzo says, there’s no point in forcing yourself to eat something you don’t like—and let’s be real, whole wheat pasta just doesn’t taste as good as white pasta does.

“If you want to eat white pasta, go for it, but pay attention to serving size,” she said in a phone call with Bicycling. “Most people probably should have two servings .”

As for the glycemic index argument? While it is true that refined grains like white pasta are considered higher on that scale, it actually might not mean as much as you think, Rizzo says.

“The glycemic index was first established as a way to help people with diabetes make food choices that are suited to their condition,” she explains. “Since need more carbs in their diet, having foods that are higher on the glycemic index isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Plus, the glycemic index of specific foods doesn’t take into account the real-world way people eat foods: in combination, not in isolation. You’re not eating a plain bowl of pasta and calling it a day—you’re probably topping it with sauce and eating a side or two with it.

The way you build a meal affects how quickly it will lead to a spike and fall in your blood sugar.

“Pairing a starchy carb with a protein, fat, and some fiber will actually regulate your blood sugar, meaning that you won’t experience an energy spike followed by a crash,” she says.

So if you think white pasta tastes a whole lot better, don’t worry: There are definitely ways you can incorporate it into a healthy diet. Don’t go overboard and serve up a heaping bowl every day, and also make sure you’re paying attention to what the rest of your meal is.
“You should balance it with protein, fat, and vegetables, rather than eating something like fettuccine alfredo that’s basically just butter and cream,” she says. Serve your pasta with some chicken, and load vegetables like zucchini on top, for instance.

Another important note: Whole wheat pasta may actually be a problematic choice if you’re carb-loading before a race. In that case, its extra fiber content might end up upsetting your stomach and causing GI distress, Rizzo says.

The bottom line? Follow the rule of moderation, and eat whichever type of pasta you damn well please.

“I personally think you shouldn’t totally avoid certain foods,” Rizzo says. “If you love pasta, you may not love other versions of it, and that’s okay.”

Danielle Zickl Associate Health & Fitness Editor Danielle specializes in interpreting and reporting the latest health research and also writes and edits in-depth service pieces about fitness, training, and nutrition.

Tasting Panel: Whole-Wheat Penne Pasta

Whole grains have made a comeback. What else could explain why supermarkets suddenly boast entire sections stacked with whole-wheat pastas? Made from whole durum wheat, whole-wheat pasta offers the nutritional benefits of whole grains, including three times as much fiber as regular pasta. But its assertively wheaty flavor and coarser, grainier texture take some getting used to.

To determine which pasta is worth buying, we conducted a blind tasting of seven widely available brands of whole-wheat penne pasta, cooked in salted water and tossed with mild vegetable oil. To be honest, we didn’t fall in love with any of them, but some were more appealing than others. Overall, we preferred the ones that resembled regular pasta in both flavor and texture. Our two favorites had a mild, well-balanced, slightly sweet wheat flavor and less of the toughness and grittiness that characterize whole-wheat pastas as a group.

Top Picks: Whole Foods 365 organic and Bionaturae.

Top picks

Whole Foods 365 organic
$1.29 (16 oz.)

We liked this pasta for its sweet, nutty flavor and mild wheatiness, which would pair well with a variety of sauces. A decent al dente texture, which reminded us of regular pasta, made it less chewy and gritty than most brands we tasted. This may well be the best choice for those who aren’t keen on whole-wheat flavor but don’t want to give up the nutritional benefits of whole-wheat pasta.

Bionaturae
$2.49 (16 oz.)

These organic whole-wheat penne imported from Italy scored almost as well as the Whole Foods brand. Their balanced, mildly wheaty flavor was a major selling point, and their relatively tender texture, with almost no trace of the coarse, gritty mouthfeel common to whole-wheat pasta, won us over as well. “Finally, a texture that’s not bad,” one panelist commented.

Runners-up

Pastas numbered in order of preference; prices will vary.

3. Ronzoni Healthy Harvest
$1.99 (13.25 oz.)

While the subtle wheaty flavor of this pasta (the only one in the group that blends regular semolina with whole durum wheat) was a hit among our tasters, its grainy, gummy texture was disappointing.

4. De Cecco
$1.99 (16 oz.)

An elegant bias-cut made this the prettiest of the bunch. But neither flavor nor texture could keep up with appearance. Stronger flavored than our top choices, it had thick walls and was tough and chewy, despite having cooked the longest (12 minutes, per package instructions).

5. De Boles
$1.99 (8 oz.)

While we couldn’t agree on whether we liked this pasta’s flavor or not (some found it pleasant, while others said it was overly wheaty), we all concurred that its texture was too crumbly and at the same time oddly sticky and gummy.

6. Da Vinci
$2.69 (12 oz.)

A stronger-than-average wheaty flavor and an out-of-place spiciness reminiscent of cinnamon caused this pasta’s score to plummet. A dry, brittle texture prone to fracturing was equally unappealing.

7. Hodgson Mill
$1.74 (12 oz.)

Our panel was unanimous in ranking this pasta the lowest. Much darker than the others, it had a disagreeably strong, slightly sour flavor with a bitter aftertaste. Its stiff and stubborn texture didn’t win us over either.

Take it beyond al dente

It may be a fact of life that the texture of whole-wheat pasta is chewier and tougher than that of regular pasta. But we found that if you cook it a little beyond al dente it gets better. We recommend setting the timer for the longest cooking time on the package instructions (if there’s a range) and taste the pasta when the timer goes off. If it still has an unpleasantly dry, gritty core, let it cook another minute or two and taste again. Just don’t let it overcook because, as with regular pasta, it will become gummy.

A happy medium: multigrain pasta

If you think the flavor of whole-wheat pasta is a bit too strong and the texture too coarse, but you still want to get more grains into your diet, you may want to try something in between: multi­grain pasta. We tasted two kinds: Barilla Plus penne ($1.89 for a 16-ounce box) and Mueller’s Multi Grain penne ($1.69 for a 12-ounce box).

Barilla Plus pasta, which doesn’t actually contain whole-wheat flour, is very similar to regular pasta. But it’s still richer in protein and fiber thanks to a blend of coarse durum wheat, oat, spelt, barley, wheat fiber, and ground flaxseed, along with chickpea and lentil flour. We liked its meek, subtly sweet, and nutty flavor, which was reminiscent of regular pasta, and we found its tender texture infinitely more appealing than that of whole-wheat pasta. And because it’s so mildly flavored, it’s easy to pair with almost any sauce.

Mueller’s Multi Grain pasta does contain whole-wheat flour, as well as whole-grain brown rice and oats. While closer to 100% whole-wheat pasta than Barilla, its whole-grain flavor is less assertive than that of the whole-wheat penne we tasted, and its texture less toothy and grainy.

Pairing tips

Whole-wheat pasta can overwhelm subtle cream- or herb-based sauces, but it pairs well with robust red or meat sauces and even bold Asian flavors like peanut sauce, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Or try it as a substitution for hard to find soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles).

DeLallo Whole-Wheat Pasta

The DeLallo Difference

No more gritty, earthy-tasting pasta. After years of searching for just the right grain and perfecting the process and ratio, we’ve done it. Our whole-wheat pasta boasts the irresistible taste and texture of traditional Italian pasta… with the added benefits of hearty whole-wheat goodness.

This incredible whole-wheat pasta begins just 50km south of Naples, in Campania, Italy, where pasta was born. We start with an exquisite blend of certified-organic hard durum wheat. Wheat is selected for its high gluten and protein content—factors that determine how well it cooks, but also its resulting taste and texture.

Our approach to pasta-making comes from generations of experience and the traditional methods that have created great pasta for decades.

Once selected, superior grains are expertly milled into coursely ground semolina. This includes all parts of the grain (from soft endosperm to the outer bran), which gives our pasta “whole” wheat status. Next, semolina is kneaded with fresh, mineral-rich spring water to create the pasta dough.

We use bronze dies to extrude pasta. This traditional method creates a rougher surface area—an ideal texture that is made to absorb sauces better, allowing for the perfect marriage of pasta and sauce.

Once extruded, pasta is dried slowly at low temperatures. Drying pasta in this natural way preserves its color, texture and flavor throughout the cooking process and helps to create that signature al dente bite: a tender, but firm bite with a speck of white at its core. This is what we call the “soul” of the pasta.

Recognized by the Whole-Wheat Council, DeLallo Organic Whole-Wheat Pasta is high in fiber, nutrient rich and great-tasting.

This Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta is the best homemade pasta recipe that taste’s worlds better better than boxed varieties! Use it in a delicious main dish or serve it as a yummy side dish!

I went many years in my life only eating fresh, homemade pasta from scratch.

I know, snobby much? I can’t help help it! I prefer this this Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta to anything that can be found in the store {like there’s no comparison…at all}. And even though it might sound intimidating….it’s totally not! Making your own pasta is actually really easy…and dare I say…fun?!

Seriously, once you eat homemade noodles it is so SO hard to ever eat store-bought varieties again. I got over it when I had my third baby and my life forever changed {read: I never felt like cooking…ever}. However, recently I have rediscovered my love for this Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta and have to share the recipe with all of you…seeing that October is national pasta month and all! 😉

Perfect recipe for entertaining!

Pasta dishes are great to make when you need to feed a crowd! However, I always feel a little guilty making pasta from a box for guests. So whenever we have friends over for a yummy Italian dinner, I usually break out my pasta machine and make this Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta from scratch. I really think it gives the meal an extra special touch. Plus, pasta = love {obviously}, so making homemade noodles is a way of showing just how much you care! 😉

It took me about a year to create what I believe to be the perfect Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta recipe. I tested different methods, ingredients and ratios until I got it just right. So here are a few tips and tricks to making this recipe!

How to Make Whole Wheat Pasta Dough

  • Use a Food processor. In this recipe, the dough is made in the food processor, which means that it’s SUPER easy! Just process the ingredients until the dough forms a ball and then knead it until it’s no longer sticky!
  • Rolling. I have a version of this pasta maker and I love it. Always start the rolling process on a thicker (lower number) setting and gradually roll it thinner until the desired thickness is achieved. My sequence is usually 2, 4, 5, 6. My maker goes up to a 7, but I prefer to stop at 6!
  • Cutting. Usually a pasta maker comes with the option to cut two different sizes of noodles. I like the thicker ones (pictured here), but again it’s totally preference! You can also use a pasta cutter and cut the dough into squares by hand to make homemade ravioli!

How to cook fresh whole wheat pasta from scratch:

  • Cooking. SUPER IMPORTANT! Fresh pasta cooks in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook boxed, dried pasta.We’re talking 2-3 minutes and it’s done! You’ll notice the noodles start floating to the top, and that’s when to take them out of the boiling water.
  • A TON of noodles. This recipe makes a boatload of noodles. If you want less, simply halve the recipe. It makes so much you will need to cook them in batches, so do not dump out the water!

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe: Substitutions

This is a recipe I do not recommend tampering with at all. It took me a long time to develop the perfect noodle and I wouldn’t them to not turn out amazing for you.

There are two ways you could change the recipe and still have perfect results:

  1. Flour. You can use only all-purpose flour for this recipe, but you may need to add a touch more than is called for. You cannot use all whole wheat flour because recipe will turn out super dense if you do.
  2. Olive oil. Any neutral oil works well in this recipe. Avocado and canola are two varieties I have used successfully!

IF YOU MAKE SOMETHING FROM JOYFOODSUNSHINE I WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOUR CREATIONS! DON’T FORGET TO RATE THIS RECIPE AND LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW! ALSO, FOLLOW ALONG WITH ME ON INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE AND TWITTER FOR MORE RECIPE INSPIRATION AND A GLIMPSE INTO OUR EVERYDAY LIFE!

Pin 5 from 4 votes

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta from Scratch

This Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta is the best homemade pasta recipe that taste’s worlds better better than boxed varieties! Use it in a delicious main dish or serve it as a yummy side! Course Main Course, Side Dish Cuisine Italian Keyword homemade pasta dough, homemade pasta recipe, how to cook fresh pasta, how to make pasta, pasta from scratch Prep Time 30 minutes Cook Time 5 minutes Resting time 30 minutes Total Time 35 minutes Servings 12 Servings Calories 134.8kcal Author Laura

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS water

Instructions

  • Put all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour & salt into the container of your food processor fitted with an “S” blade.
  • Pulse to combined.
  • Add eggs, olive oil and water and process until the mixture just starts to form a ball.
  • Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead until it is firm and not sticky (about 4-5 minutes).
  • Place dough ball on a well-floured surface and cover it with a bowl. Let it stand for at least 1 hour.
  • Separate your dough into 8 equal pieces.
  • Roll a piece of dough using a pasta maker into a rectangular sheet. Start at a low thickness setting (I usually start at 2) and increase until the dough has reached your desired thickness (I prefer a “6” on my pasta machine, which goes as high as 7).
  • Once you have a thin rectangular sheet, pass it through the pasta cutter attachment of your pasta maker, using whatever shape noodle you prefer.
  • Hang on a rack or set on a cooling sheet to harden.
  • Repeat with remaining portions of dough until you have used them all.
  • Allow the pasta to air dry for at least 15 minutes and up to 12 hours (to prevent it from clumping together while it’s cooking).
  • When you’re ready to cook, bring water to a boil using a large pot,
  • Cook half of the pasta for 2-3 minutes (the noodles will float), in the boiling water.
  • Use tongs to remove the cooked noodles and place them in a colander to drain, but DO NOT DISCARD WATER! Save the water and cook the second half of the noodles.
  • Drain and serve!

Nutrition

Calories: 134.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.1g | Protein: 5.6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 200.3mg | Potassium: 43.6mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 100IU | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.8mg

With fall in full swing we are enjoying our fair share of comforting pasta dishes around here, and these Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta make pasta night extra special!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a portion of the sale. Thank you for supporting JoyFoodSunshine!

The 5 Healthiest Boxed Pastas That Are Also Delicious

You might assume the healthiest boxed pastas on the grocery store shelves taste like cardboard. Or that the noodles will be so dense and chewy they’ll ruin the texture of your grass-fed meat sauce.

You’d be right about what’s in some of those boxes of gluten-free fettucine and farfalle, but not all of them.

Here’s the thing: The evidence showing how bad refined carbs are for your health—think: obesity, heart disease, and inflammation—just keeps building up. So, more companies have rushed to innovate in the space, creating healthier pastas made from ingredients like whole and ancient grains and legumes.

That means better healthy pasta options for all (even if your Italian grandmother would not totally approve).

To help you decide which boxes to throw in your basket, we taste-tested and evaluated the nutrition facts of many of the most popular healthy pasta brands. The healthiest pastas we ended up with are made of ingredients like organic quinoa, lentils, or chickpeas and are delicious enough to make you want a second bowl. Most (but not all) are gluten-free, and many are super high in protein.

RELATED: The Essential Guide to Plant-Based Protein

One final note: If pasta is an occasional food for you, and you’d prefer to consciously enjoy homemade white-flour gnocchi at your fave bistro once a month, go for it! These healthy pasta brands are for if you’re craving penne with pesto every night and need a healthier way to make it happen.

The 5 Healthiest Boxed Pastas

1. Felicia Organic Buckwheat Spaghetti

This gluten-free spaghetti is made with just one ingredient: 100% organic buckwheat flour. And it’s the perfect choice for classic Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti and clams. The brand makes many other versions with rice, corn, and legumes and is pretty easy to find.

$26 for a pack of six, amazon.com

2. Tolerant Simply Legumes Organic Red Lentil Pasta

This pasta is called “Simply Legumes” because the only ingredient is red lentils (they also make versions with black beans, green lentils, and chickpeas), so it comes with all of the health benefits of those beans. That means tons of protein (21g) and fiber (11g) per serving, and other essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin B6. It’s certified gluten-free and USDA organic and is delish to boot.

$19 for a pack of six, amazon.com

3. Ancient Harvest POW! Pasta

You probably know Ancient Harvest from its blue boxes of quinoa. Its POW! protein pastas pair the ancient grain with legumes, like lentils and chickpeas. Both are great for veggie pasta dishes since they provide 12+ grams of protein per serving, plus a significant amount of iron. The lentil noodles have a very mild flavor so they can be thrown into any dish. All of these pastas are gluten-free and Non-GMO verified, but they’re not organic.

$19 for a variety pack of three, amazon.com

4. Jovial Organic Whole Wheat Einkorn Pasta

Jovial also makes gluten-free pastas, but its rigatoni and fusilli made with certified organic, whole grain Einkorn—an ancient form of wheat—are the most unique and delicious. While Einkorn does contain gluten, it has 30 percent more protein and 15 percent less starch than commercial wheat and is a good source of antioxidants and minerals like zinc, manganese, magnesium, and iron. Made into pasta, it also provides bold, nutty flavor that will take any dish you’re making up a notch.

$20 for a variety pack of three, amazon.com

5. Banza Chickpea Pasta

Banza’s the most visible, heavily marketed gluten-free pasta in the space, which means it’s often easier to find than others. Made with chickpeas and pea protein, it’s super high in protein and fiber and also provides iron and calcium. Its texture is nearly perfect, but it does taste more like garbanzos than pasta, so consider that flavor profile when choosing a sauce. Finally, it also contains xanthan gum, a natural thickening agent often used in gluten-free products for elasticity. It’s generally considered to be safe but has been found to potentially affect digestion. A few taste-testers (not everyone) on our team reported some digestive distress after eating Banza. That may be due to the xanthan gum or the simple fact that eating lots of beans just makes some people gassy.

$26 for a variety pack of six, amazon.com

Easy Ways to Enjoy the Healthiest Boxed Pastas

Okay, so you’ve got your healthy boxed pastas stocked in the pantry. Now, how to cook them? Try one of these nutritious pasta recipes.

Make homemade marinara sauce with your farmers’ market tomatoes.

Whip up some veggie-packed pesto.

Throw together a simple pasta salad.

(Photos: , Ancient Harvest, and Banza)

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What Is the Best Non-Pasta Pasta?

Non-flour pastas are having a moment: You can now eat pasta made from brown rice, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and more. But are they really healthier than the real deal? Here’s what nutrition experts have to say about which pasta alternatives are actually good for you.

Vegetable noodles are the best

Fresh vegetables used in the place of noodles are clearly the healthiest option. One popular way to make veggies like sweet potato, cucumber or zucchini look like noodles is to spiralize them, or use a machine to slice them into long, curly strands. You can then cook these so-called “zoodles,” if you wish, by boiling or sautéeing them. Other stringy veggies like spaghetti squash naturally have a similar pasta-like look.

“From a nutritional standpoint, it’s terrific,” says Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System. “It’s just a lot more work, and you will need equipment.” Another downside is that fresh vegetable pastas can’t be stored like regular pasta, and it goes bad more quickly. The biggest con of all: vegetables taste nothing like real noodles.

MORE: Should I Eat Whole Wheat Pasta?

Bean-based pastas have the most fiber

Dried pastas made from chickpeas, lentils or black beans have more protein and fiber than regular pasta. That’s because this type of pasta is made from beans. It can be made in different ways; sometimes the bean is ground into a flour and combined with thickening agents like tapioca or xanthan gum, and sometimes the bean powder is just combined with water.

One popular type of bean pasta, Banza, uses chickpeas in place of wheat. It has twice the protein and four times the fiber of regular pasta, with fewer carbs. It’s also gluten free—but it’s not always much lighter. A two-ounce serving of Banza is about 190 calories, while penne packs about 200.

Veggie pastas aren’t necessarily worthwhile

Don’t be fooled by pastas that say they contain vegetables in their ingredients, like green spinach pasta or red tomato pasta. Spinach pasta is just regular pasta made with a bit of spinach, often in powder or puree form. “It’s basically fun and games with pasta,” says Ayoob. “It has great eye appeal.” Though some companies claim their veggie pastas contain a full serving of vegetables, Ayoob says it’s no substitute for a real vegetable dish, since spinach pasta might not have all the nutrients you would otherwise expect from spinach.

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Quinoa pasta is a good gluten-free option

Veggie or legume-based pastas are often gluten free, but quinoa is an especially popular choice since it doesn’t get mushy when it’s cooked. It tends to be higher in protein than other gluten-free varieties, and it contains high amounts of fiber, and iron. Another plus: it cooks quickly.

Even regular pasta can be healthy

The healthfulness of any type of pasta, regular or alternative, depends largely on what you serve with it. “Pasta is a great vehicle for other food,” says Ayoob. Usually, that means ground beef or heavy, creamy sauces. “Alfredo is one of the highest calorie pastas you can eat,” says Ayoob. “It’s what I call ‘once a year’ pasta.” Instead, top yours with tomato-based sauces, vegetables or yesterday’s leftovers.

You can also eat whole-wheat pasta, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Try serving it as a side dish, rather than a main, to cut down on portion sizes. “Pasta, including refined-flour pasta, is not a new food—it’s been around long before the obesity crisis,” Ayoob says. “Pasta is not a matter of yes or no, it’s a matter of how much and how often.”

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