As with most the items in your fridge and pantry, there are whole grocery aisles full of variations of pastas these days. And with the rise of gluten-free diets, pastas seem to be getting ignored more and more. But there’s no reason to skip the pasta aisle just because you want a healthier or gluten-free option. We’ve researched some of the most popular pasta options so you can choose what you want, based on your preference.
Dry pasta is the traditional pasta you find in the grocery store. Dry pasta is made with flour, water and salt that’s mixed in a paste and cut into all sorts of shapes and sizes. Then, it’s dried at a low temperature over a few days, giving it a long shelf life and perfect to keep in a pantry over months (and maybe even years). Dry pasta is low fat carb that is good for those watching their cholesterol or sodium intake and its firmer texture makes it better for heartier sauces, like tomato or pesto. However keep in mind that the things like sauces and meats that add sodium and other not-so-great stuff to your pasta. If you want a healthier option, keep it simple with olive oil, vegetables and some grated cheese.
In the cooking world, everyone seems to think that fresh means better. But that’s not necessarily the case in pasta. Fresh pasta is made with a mixture of flour and eggs that makes it idea for storing. While fresh pasta has more iron, vitamin B and slightly more fiber than its dry counterpart, it also has more sodium and cholesterol than dry pasta. Because fresh pasta holds more water, it’s more tender and cooks more quickly. Pair it with a more delicate sauce, like something creamy or butter and herbs.
Whole-wheat seems to be a popular option for most things today, and with pasta, it’s a smart move. Refined pastas, aka the regular kind, lose many of its vitamins and nutrients in the process. Compared to its other rival the gluten-free option, whole-wheat pasta has less carbs, and more fiber and protein, but comes with more sodium. Whole-wheat pasta is packed with iron and vitamins E and B and is a heartier, meant for heavier sauces. It’s nuttier flavour and grainy consistency makes it a great choice if you want to try something different, and all the healthy stuff is definitely something you’d want to add to next week’s dinner.
Most pasta is made from semolina flour, which comes from the durum plant, which contains gluten, making most pasta not a friendly option for those wanting or needing to go gluten-free. Gluten-free pasta is made out of other grains or plants, like quinoa or corn and is high in calcium and iron. Pasta made with quinoa will also higher in protein. Gluten-free pasta is very similar to regular pasta, meaning it’s high in carbs and low in cholesterol. However gluten-free pasta lacks the fiber of regular wheat pastas, especially compared to whole-wheat, but is lower in fat than whole-wheat pastas.
Brown Rice Pasta
This pasta is a great whole-grain option for those looking to cut back or eliminate gluten from their diet, as it’s gluten-free. With a high amount of fiber, it’s also good for the digestive system. Overall, brown rice pasta has the same amount of calories and nutrients as whole-wheat pasta, making it one of the best gluten-free options. Brown rice pasta has a mild flavour that you kids won’t mind, and it’s hard to ruin it by overcooking, meaning forgetting it on the stove for a little longer won’t make it mushy.