Somehow (and maybe it's been like this for centuries, I’m not entirely sure), pasta has become what kids consider to be one of the main food groups. It’s also lacking essential nutrients. Sure, you can put vegetable on top (if your kids will eat them), hide peas in penne or purée squash for spaghetti sauce, but basic pasta is in serious need of a nutritional makeover.
If you have one of those extremely picky eaters, or maybe you have a child that loves pasta but you've recently learned that she's gluten intolerant or has a gluten or wheat allergy, there are now delicious options available that provide greater nutrition than the old standard.
1. Rice pasta
One of the first gluten- and/or wheat-free pastas to hit market shelves was rice pasta. If you have a child with a delicate palate this can be a good option. The taste is mild, very similar to traditional wheat pasta, and takes to a myriad of sauces well.
This type of pasta takes a little cooking finesse, though. If you’re not careful, it can get mushy – quickly. Be sure to follow the directions closely and keep a keen eye on your pot. Too little time and it’s crunchy, too much and it’s glue.
2. Black bean pasta
High in fiber and protein, black bean pasta is a winner with the young and adventurous. The protein content helps your little one stay full longer and the fiber supports a healthy digestive system. The hearty texture stands up to a variety of recipes. This is one you can really creative with and have fun adding lots of vegetables and sauces
Admittedly, it does look a bit like worms in a bowl but if you can get past that, you’re good to go. For those kids that are into creepy crawlers, bugs, worms and the like, this is the pasta that will make their day. And since it is packed with protein you will feel less guilty on those nights when you give in to their little tyrannical demands.
3. Quinoa pasta
For the noodle most similar in taste and texture to traditional wheat pasta, quinoa is where it’s at. Quinoa, a small seed that is cooked much in the same way you cook rice, has hit the health food scene with the force of kale, but requires much less convincing with kids.
Though the name may strike you as unusual, you can easily swap this out and your kids will be non the wiser. From baked ziti to butter tossed rigatoni, quinoa pasta in all of its gluten-free glory is one of the most kid-friendly pastas you will find.
4. Red lentil pasta
One of the newer wheat pasta replacements that is growing in popularity is made with red lentils an maybe just a little bit of magic. Though red lentil pasta can call for a longer cooking time, its firm yet tender texture makes it one of the most fool proof substitutes.
Lentils are a hearty source of both fiber and protein. The taste is slightly more earthy than a traditional wheat pasta, but still mid enough to sneak right under your kids’ noses.