Smothered and sauced and perfectly al dente, is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of pasta?
You’re committed to (or at the very least interested in) living a nutritarian lifestyle, but where does pasta fit in?
Should it even fit in when your whole goal is to eat more foods with high nutrient density? We’re talking dark leafy greens, big bowls of salad, raw seeds and whole fruits–so how does pasta factor in?
Traditional pastas carry a high caloric price tag with low nutrients in return. Processed white flour isn’t going to get us anywhere near health excellence. But what if pasta didn’t have to be that way?
What if you could scarf down a bowl of pasta with reckless abandon knowing you were nutrifying your body at the same time?
Well, you’re going to be happy. Very happy.
You Can Have Pasta on the Nutritarian Plan—But You Need to be Smart About it!
Pasta is in, but wheat-based pasta is out. Well, sorta…
You can certainly say bye Felicia to highly-processed, amke-you-die-early white flour pastas, but what about trusty old whole wheat?
Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t believe the hype (a la “Wheat Belly” and Paleo circles) that whole wheat is bad for you and should be avoided like the Bubonic plague.
What he does believe is that the group of foods he calls “cooked starchy vegetables and whole grains” should be minimized to 1 cup per day. This includes brown rice, quinoa, corn, whole wheat (in bread, pita or pasta), oatmeal and potatoes.
So, whole wheat pasta is still on the table if you’re a nutritarian but you’re going to have to limit it.
But, honestly, when you’re striving to pack as many nutrients into your diet as possible, whole wheat pasta just isn’t good enough for you anymore–I promise you can do soooo much better!
Say hello to the new crop of better-for-you nutritarian pastas (that just happen to be vegan and gluten-free to boot):
Quinoa-based and bean-based.
Let’s talk about each type, how they should be used, ridiculously simple sauce recipes and my personal favorite brands!
Quinoa pastas are a bit better than plain old whole wheat.
Notice the word bit.
The difference isn’t staggering (just check out Dr. Fuhrman’s ANDI scoring system to see what I mean) and that’s pretty much why they both fall into the restricted whole grains guideline on the eat to live plan.
But even making the small change from whole wheat to quinoa-based pasta is worth it:
Qunioa has a higher protien content than wheat, with a lower glycemic load. It also fairs a bit better on vitamin and mineral content (see comparison here).
One of my family’s favorite brands is Trader Joe’s Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta:
That’s right, my kids actually prefer this quinoa and rice pasta to whole wheat or even white pasta (and that my friends is #winning).
What’s great about this pasta is it is a blend of quinoa and brown rice. Brown rice fairs a bit better than quinoa on the ANDI scale, so now you’re well into better-for-you-then-whole-wheat-pasta territory!
Just remember, if you chose this pasta option, you have to factor it into your 1 cup daily quota of cooked starchy veggies and whole grains.
Which brings me to the next point…
The beauty of Dr. Fuhrman’s plan is nothing is truly “off the table.” But low nutrient foods need to be minimized and managed.
I like to use the pasta types we’ve discussed so far as condiments. That includes whole wheat, rice and quinoa-based varieties.
You get that wonderful chewy mouth-feel and instant comfort, while it being completely surrounded by good-for-you raw or cooked veggies!
I sprinkle no more than 1/2 cup cooked on salads (like that beauty above) and as a garnish on veggies soups and stews. You could go all the way up to 1 cup but then you’ve busted your allotment for the day.
So, what’s a diligent nutritarian bad-ass like yourself going to do when you have a real hankering to chow down on some pasta? Go for the gold-standard in nutritarian pastas…
Bean Pastas Are the Bomb!
Why is bean pasta the best thing ever?
Because beans are one of the top 6 nutritarian superfoods according to Dr. Fuhrman (oh, and like the tons and tons of scientific nutrition journals quoted and footnoted in his books).
They literally put the “B” in his signature G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds)–you can learn all about their super-powers here.
Here’s the bottom line on beans: they are the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source you can get. And that’s precisely why you can eat as much beans as you like on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan (with a minimum recommended dose of 1 cup daily).
Yup, that’s right, unlimited, guilt-free pasta bowls are in your future…
Made from black beans, edamame, lentils and garbanzos, bean pastas are sprouting up everywhere, and I’m over-the-moon thankful for this latest health craze (that just happens to have real science behind it)!
Let’s go over my favorite finds and easy nutritarian, vegan, no-oil, and no salt sauces to make with each!
FAVORITE ELBOW MACARONI:
Banza Garbanzo Bean Pasta:
While not as pure as the one-ingredient wonders we’re about to get into, this pasta has a great mild flavor that allows your sauce to shine!
When you’re really craving some nutritarian-friendly mac and cheese, grab a box of this pasta and make a batch of this cheese sauce. Top with roasted veggies and you have a winning bowl full of goodness!
This brand is my kids favorite bean pasta, and they haven’t had a clue that their mac n’ cheese has been harboring beans–buwah ha ha!
Explore Asian Organic Edamame Spaghetti:
This pasta has only two ingredients: soybeans and water.
I found it at our local Costco and decided to give it a try. My husband and I fell in love with these noodles that go perfectly with Asian soups and sauces!
Some readers have had issue with the fact that these noodles are made in China and I actually have to agree that foods made in China are not always the safest option.
If you’re looking for an alternative you can check out Liberto’s brand:
I have not personally tried this brand and I was not able to get any information on country of origin on their company website.
** If anyone has more information on this brand or has tried it themselves will you please let me know in the comments below so I can include that information!
Either edamame noodle you choose, make sure to try them with this super-simple and delicious Cilantro Cream Sauce.
FAVORITE BLACK BEAN PASTAS:
Tolerant Foods Organic Black Bean Penne:
When I think of black bean pasta I immediately think of Mexican food! Cheesy sauces, bright fresh tomatoes and yummy veggie-broth-sauted fajita veggies!
This brand of black bean pasta was the first I ever tried and it is delish, although a bit pricey when I picked it up at Whole Foods. Now you see the Tolerant Foods brand popping up everywhere, even conventional grocery stores!
I have a wonderful Mexican Mac n’ Cheese recipe that uses this black bean penne pasta–be sure to give it a try!
Trader Joe’s Black Bean Rotinni:
obsessed dedicated Trader Joe’s shopper, so when I saw this bag of pasta I literally squealed with nutritarian glee! I was so happy to find a cheaper alternative to the Tolerant Foods brand black bean pasta we talked about above.
I’ve been boiling these puppies up and saving them for the week in the fridge. They go on salads and really make a delicious addition to my popular Eat to Live Mexican Salad recipe!
I love me some black beans so being able to eat them in a new way makes things more exciting–I’ve been at this a long time!
This is the one bean-based-pasta area that I sadly fall short.
I have yet to try lentil-based pasta and that is pretty sad. I blame it on the fact that I seriously love all the other pastas we’ve talked about so much–there just hasn’t been any room to explor yet.
If you know of any fabulous brands please share with us in the comments below! I hope to update this section soon with some new finds and sauce recipes!
That means your next trip to the grocery store will entail grabbing a bag of bean-based goodness to add to your arsenal of easy Eat to Live meals!
Before you go… Was this post helpful for you? Please leave a comment and let me know–I love getting your feedback!
Let’s do better together! xo, Kristen
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