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A question I’m frequently asked is, “What about pasta? Don’t you miss it?”
The answer is, I do enjoy pasta. Since switching to a plant based lifestyle, I still eat pasta. It’s vegan and gluten free pasta.
Pasta came back into my diet shortly after going plant based. I discovered a wide selection of gluten free and vegan pasta available. Although I’ve settled in on brown rice pasta as my favorite, there are other varieties made from plants and wheat free grains.
Here is a line up of gluten free pastas to try so you can decide which is your favorite!
Why Avoid Gluten?
Gluten is a chewy protein found in some grains including wheat, spelt and rye. For people with celiac disease, avoiding gluten is a must as the protein attacks the small intestines and causes damage. Another form of celiac disease attacks the skin rather than the small intestines, causing a painful rash.
Additionally, people with autoimmune disorders and gluten sensitivities should avoid gluten as well. I fall in the latter category. People with a gluten sensitivity don’t process the protein well. Symptoms of sensitivity range from digestive disorders to irritable bowel syndrome to skin rashes to headaches and joint pain. Gluten, along with other allergens and proteins found in grains, can create inflammation and weaken the immune system, which is our first line of defense against illness.
For more information about gluten sensitivity, see this post: 8 Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance.
6 Gluten Free Pastas
Fortunately, for those with gluten intolerance or sensitivities there are options.
Brown Rice Pasta
This gluten free pasta is one of the most popular. Brown rice, with its mild flavor, adds chewiness and texture to the pasta, in the same way that wheat does. It is an excellent one-on-one substitution for wheat pasta, holding its shape well during cooking. In addition, brown rice is a rich source of fiber and nutrients including selenium and magnesium. Brown rice also supplies the body with antioxidants that fight against oxidative damage to cells.
Try these brown rice pastas by clicking on the photos:
This pasta is not only entirely plant based, it supplies all nine of the essential amino acids that the body requires. Quinoa is also a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Pasta made from this grain boasts a mild, nutty flavor with a grain-like texture. It is often combined with other gluten free grains or legumes to create a pasta that holds together well.
Try the brown rice/quinoa pasta pictured above, or this one from Trader Joe’s:
This recent addition to gluten free pastas is gaining in popularity. The flavor is slightly stronger than the brown rice varieties while the texture is very similar to wheat pasta. Chickpea pasta is high protein and high fiber, making it a very filling choice for pasta recipes.
Banza and Barilla both produce an excellent chickpea pasta:
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. The noodles have a slightly nutty flavor and a chewy texture. They are available in a variety of shapes, not just noodles. Soba noodles are a good source of protein and fiber and they are lower in calories than most other pastas. They also provide manganese and thiamine.
Get soba noodles here:
Green Lentil Pasta
This is another legume pasta, similar to chickpea. It is typically combined with quinoa and has a mild flavor and a good chewy texture. Green lentil pasta is an excellent source of fiber and protein.
Try this brand:
Some gluten free pastas combine a blend of grains including rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, millet and amaranth.
The taste and texture of multigrain pasta is very similar to wheat pasta. However, the nutritional value varies greatly with these pastas, depending on the combination of grains. Read the labels carefully so that you know what you are getting. I only use non GMO corn, so I typically avoid multigrain pastas unless I know corn is not included.
Preparing Gluten Free Pastas
To cook gluten free pastas, use these tips:
- use a large container with plenty of water
- bring water to a roiling boil and keep it there while pasta cooks, stirring frequently
- begin testing pasta several minutes before end of specified cook time
- remove from heat when pasta is al dente for best texture – overcooking results in mushy pasta
- drain pasta and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process
- toss with a small amount of olive oil, if desired, to prevent pasta from sticking together
- add cooked pasta to sauce to finish cooking, if necessary, or serve with sauce immediately
Enjoy Gluten Free Pastas
I’ve discovered many ways to enjoy gluten free pastas. The easiest is to pair gluten free spaghetti, penne or rotini with simple marinara sauce. I keep a package of pasta on hand and for convenience, a jar of organic, sugar free pasta sauce.
Pasta isn’t served daily in my house, however it is nice to know that when I want a quick and nutritious meal, I can have it. I make sure it is a gluten free pasta that supports my healthy lifestyle, rather than one that creates a negative reaction in my body.
Try One of These Gluten Free Pasta Recipes
Oil Free Basil Pesto for your gluten free spaghetti
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