Kim is a holistic health coach and a toxic-free lifestyle consultant. She obtained her studies from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Healthy Pasta That's Also Gluten-Free
Pasta is a favorite staple among many people. Who doesn't like Italian food? However, if you're eating a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or other reasons, it can be difficult trying to give up pasta. Luckily, you don't have to!
There are healthier options for gluten-free pasta that you may have not heard of. Quinoa pasta and brown rice pasta are both great alternatives from the typical semolina-based pastas or whole wheat pastas.
Whenever I make a pasta dish, whether it's spaghetti or penne, I often use either quinoa or brown rice pasta. My family also appreciates how satisfying it is to eat pasta that incorporates both healthy and flavorful profiles. This is the kind of food that your body can get away with eating, and you don't have to feel guilty or deprived.
About Quinoa Pasta
You may be familiar with the tiny grain quinoa, a South American grain. Quinoa contains a high amount of protein and essential amino acids, and it's considered a super food by many. A good source of dietary fiber, quinoa is completely gluten-free, thus making it very easy to digest. You'll stay full longer and absorb more of the grain's nutrients.
For all the hardcore Italian eaters, rest assured knowing that the color and texture does not deviate far from semolina pasta. Just make sure you cook it "al dente," which is slightly undercooked.
My favorite brand is Ancient Harvest, which tastes as good as (if not better than) the original wheat pasta. If you cannot find quinoa pasta in the store, you can order it in bulk on Amazon for a discounted price.
Quinoa is native to South America, and it's a grain that provides a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids.
Quinoa is especially valuable for those who prefer to reduce or completely eliminate animal protein from their diets. One cup of quinoa provides 9 grams of protein, and it's also high in magnesium, vitamin B12, and insoluble fiber.
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This seed-like grain has pre-biotic properties, feeding the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. It is also easily digested, allowing your body to access most of the vitamins and minerals it contains.
About Brown Rice Pasta
Brown rice pasta is made from a grain that is truly whole, which means the bran, germ, and endosperm are all present from the source. Brown rice flour gives you the full benefits of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that have been shown to reduce risks of diseases and cancers.
Brown rice pasta is not only reserved for gluten-free diets. It's such a healthy alternative, being cholesterol-free, low fat, low sodium, and an amazing source of fiber. It's also easy to digest!
You'd be surprised at the taste and texture, which is similar to whole wheat pasta. The secret is to cook it "al dente."
When buying brown rice pasta, look for brands that produce brown rice from whole grain rice flour. Make sure they are also manufactured in a certified gluten-free facility.
Pair Your Healthy Pasta With Healthy Pesto Sauce!
One of my favorite sauces to top the healthy pasta is a simple basic pesto sauce made with sun-dried tomatoes. You can also make a vegan pesto sauce by substituting the cheese with another powerhouse ingredient: nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is an amazing substitute for cheese, providing you with complete protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Pesto sauce is not only healthy, but also very filling due to the pine nuts. When made with fresh ingredients such as basil and olive oil, it adds character to any type of pasta. This sauce can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.
- 4 cups basil
- 6 to 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
The traditional authentic Italian pesto sauce is an eclectic blend of basil and pine nuts. However, feel free to substitute walnuts, almonds or pecans for the pine nuts. If you don't care for garlic, leave it out. It's your kitchen—do as you please! Just remember to taste as you go!