Use Your Noodle: A Pasta Primer

by | Updated: April 7th, 2017 | Read time: 3 minutes

Pasta has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years. However, it can actually be a party of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Prepared hot or cold, enjoyed as a side or an entrée, pasta is a great source of carbohydrates (translation: energy) that can help power you throughout your toughest school day, work day and/or workout. Top your favorite variety with veggies, lean meat and/or seafood, like shrimp or salmon, for an even greater nutritional boost!

A Guide to Healthy Types of Pasta

So many pastabilities!

Spaghetti, linguine, fettuccini, ziti, penne, rotini, rigatoni, farfalle…You’re likely aware that pasta comes in a multitude of shapes (and we haven’t even mentioned the popular stuffed variety, like ravioli, tortellini and manicotti!). But did you know that many other kinds of noodles are now readily available?

If you’ve already swapped out traditional white (semolina) pasta for the whole wheat variety, you’re off to a good start. But whole wheat pasta is just the beginning. It’s time to grab the garlic and EVOO—or a jar of your favorite marinara sauce—because we’re about to discuss dinner.

Here are some popular types or pasta to add to your heart-healthy menu:

100% whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is packed with the nutrients you need (e.g., protein, B vitamins and fiber) for a balanced diet. Be sure to look for the “100%” on the label! Serving suggestion: Toss Jovial Organic Einkorn Whole Wheat Pasta Penne Rigate with EVOO, minced garlic and grated parmesan cheese.

Whole grain pasta: As we mentioned above, whole wheat isn’t the only nutritive game in town. Other whole grains can be used to make delicious, fiber-rich and (typically) gluten-free pastas—a plus for those who need or choose to adhere to a gluten-free diet! Following are some types and serving suggestions:

    • Buckwheat pasta: Top Orgran Buckwheat Pasta Spirals with a homemade pesto sauce (and don’t be stingy with the basil!).
    • Brown rice pasta: Serve Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Pasta Penne with a bold, spicy arrabbiata sauce.
    • Corn pasta: Enjoy Sam Mills Pasta d’Oro 100% Corn Pasta Spaghetti with (what else?I) Vegetarian or vegan? Use veggie meatballs instead. Note: corn pasta can also be classified as vegetable pasta (see below).
    • Kamut pasta: Prepare a healthier mac n’ cheese with Eden Foods Organic Pasta Kamut Elbows.
    • Quinoa pasta: Top Andean Dream Organic Quinoa Pasta Fusilli with mushrooms and a rich, creamy Madeira wine sauce.
    • Spelt pasta: Enjoy VitaSpelt Organic Spelt Angel Hair with white clam sauce.

Multigrain pasta: These increasingly popular pastas combine two or more of the healthful whole grains we just mentioned. For example, Felicia Bio Gluten Free Multigrain Tortiglioni is made with corn, rice, buckwheat and quinoa. Serving suggestion: Toss with fresh peas, bacon and alfredo sauce.

Vegetable pasta: Pasta is also made from vegetables, such as spinach, beets and carrots. This is great news for those who love noodles but have a hard time getting their daily dose of veggies! Serving suggestion: Pair Eden Foods Organic Vegetable Ribbons with a tangy puttanesca sauce packed with olives and capers.

Legume pasta: Nutrient-rich lentil and black bean pastas are another great alternative to white pasta. Serving suggestion: Prepare Tolerant Food Organic Red Lentil Rotini with broccoli and a creamy vodka sauce.

Calorie-free pasta: Believe it or not, this does exist! Serving suggestion: Enjoy zero-cal Miracle Noodle Shirataki Angel Hair in a stir fry with teriyaki sauce.

Muscle pasta: This type of pasta is specifically designed to maximize the results of your workouts. Serving suggestion: Top Seitenbacher Harry P. Fitness Muscle Pasta Spinach with a light, fresh Pomodoro sauce.