Your Guide to Alternative Pasta
Last updated: March 2022
Do you LOVE pasta, but the idea of carb counting your way to blood sugar control gives you the spaghetti-stresses? We've got your guide to alternative pasta to take out the guesswork! With new alternatives incorporating legume and whole-grain flours, there are endless pasta-bilities! These options have all of the delicious taste of traditional pasta, but often contain fewer carbohydrates and increased fiber, making them more diabetes-friendly.
Alternative pastas & a type 2 diabetes diet
Alternative pastas differ from classic, refined flour pasta because they contain whole grains (whole wheat, spelt, corn, brown rice, quinoa, sorghum) and legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils, soybeans). Most of these options are also naturally gluten-free, providing an alternative choice for those with gluten allergies or sensitivities.
Alternative pastas – iron, fiber, protein, and key nutrients
A pasta-licious way to reach your nutrient needs! For those who follow are trying to eat a more plant-forward diet, iron intake from plant-food doesn’t absorb as readily as the heme iron found in animal products. Luckily, legumes are packed with iron, making reaching your nutrient needs a breeze! For adults aged 19 to 50, the daily recommended intake of iron is 8mg for men, and 18mg for women; for over 50, it’s 8 mg per day for males and females.4 Boost your iron absorption by pairing your alternative pasta with vitamin C, found in red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, and more.1 Sounds like a delicious pasta dish in the making.
Feel full with fiber-filled pasta options! Alternative pastas are abundant in fiber, which can increase feelings of satiety and provide sustained energy between meals. A high-fiber diet can also improve blood glucose control, digestive health, immunity, and establish healthy gut bacteria. The alternative pasta choices most abundant in fiber are those made from lentils, black beans, edamame, and mung beans. These choices are also higher in protein, in comparison to whole-grain options. Similar to fiber, protein aids with satiation and appetite control, which contribute to diabetes management.2,6
How do I cook alternative pasta?
Alternative pasta cooking tips include:
Salt the water
Take your tastebuds to flavor town by salting the water to bring out all of the natural goodness of pasta. As a general rule of thumb, add at least 1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water to avoid excess sodium. Remember, most of the water gets drained once the pasta gets cooked, leaving only a small amount to flavor your dish. For a heart-healthy or cholesterol-friendly choice, skip the salt and opt for a low-sodium marinara. You can also flavor your alternative pasta with two cloves of garlic sauteed olive oil and fresh or no-salt-added crushed tomatoes. Don't forget to add in fresh or dried herbs for an antioxidant boost.
Cook slightly under and cool before serving
Set the timer back by 2 minutes! The less that the pasta gets cooked, the more resistant starch it retains. In fact, cooled al-dente pasta is lower glycemic and higher in resistant starch, requiring more energy to digest and helps maintain glucose control.7 Enjoy your al-dente pasta night and its leftovers to reap the benefits of resistant starches.
Batch cook to save time
Why cook for one when you can cook for all? Save time throughout the week by having ready-to-go meals at a moment’s notice. Cooked pasta can last up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. When reheating left-over pasta, add a little water and oil to help soften.3 Or, lay pasta in a single layer on a sheet pan, freeze for a few hours, and then pour into a gallon-size zipper-loc container to freeze for up to 2-3 months. Store the plain pasta to vary its flavors and toppings throughout the week and avoid food boredom. Pesto. Marinara. Vegetarian sausage. Bolognese. The choice is yours! Or, you can turn extra noodles into a soup or healthy pasta salad. It's meal-prepping without the meal prep!
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