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For years, I've been trying out alternative pastas, with no clear winner the whole family could get behind.
Then, lentil pasta came into my life.
Modern Table Lentil Pasta, $20 for 6-pack, Amazon
I decided to dutifully try it one night, and made "regular" pasta for my family, figuring there was no way they'd eat it.
Curious, my kids and husband all asked to try it and, annoyingly, ended up eating the whole portion I had made for myself.
Occasionally, the kids will go for chickpea pasta, or I can get my spouse to eat whole wheat pasta, but rarely have we all agreed on one healthy pasta alternative.
Is lentil pasta actually "healthier" than regular pasta?
- It's high in protein. At 11 or 12 grams of protein, lentil pasta has roughly double the amount of protein of traditional pasta. "Getting those extra grams of protein through pasta can be helpful for somebody who is vegan or vegetarian," McGiffin said.
- It's higher in fiber. In terms of carbohydrates, its actual carbohydrate content is not that different than traditional wheat pasta: Lentil pasta has 37 grams of carbohydrates (200 calories) and wheat pasta has 44 grams (210 calories) — slightly less, but not drastic enough for that to be the sole reason to switch, McGiffin said. But, the lentil pasta is high in fiber, at 3 grams versus 2 grams.
- It's gluten-free (if you care about that). "For those who are unable to eat gluten, lentil pasta is one way to still be able to enjoy the pleasure of pasta without concern for flaring an allergy or sensitivity," McGiffin said.
- It takes longer to digest than regular pasta. "The main benefit with lentil pasta is that the carbohydrates will be absorbed more slowly due to the higher fiber and protein content, having a different impact on blood sugar," McGiffin added. "Slowing absorption can also be achieved with a wheat pasta by combining it with protein and vegetables."
Lentil pasta does taste great
I think the reason my crew liked the pasta is that, while it had some bite to it, it wasn't quite as grainy or gummy as other alterna-pastas out there. Plus, this pasta comes in fun, versatile shapes, like penne, rotini, elbows and spirals. So, it is pretty versatile.
How should you cook lentil pasta?
Should you try it?
"It completely depends on your personal digestive/health needs. Lentil pasta is only 'better' if you struggle with getting enough protein or if you simply prefer it because you think it tastes fabulous," McGiffin said.
Though, she cautions: "A lentil or bean pasta may be difficult for those who have more sensitive digestive systems." So if beans or lentils give you serious gas or bloating, a legume-based pasta may not be for you.
And don't forget about spiralized veggie "noodles" as an alternative, either, McGiffin added.
"Ultimately, the best noodle choice is the one that brings you joy, during your meal and following. Eating a plate of pasta that you do not enjoy is likely to leave you unsatisfied, searching for something more," she said.
I, personally, enjoy the lentil pasta with my family. But, McGiffin noted, "There are so many great pastas out there, both traditional and alternative. Find one that you love and eat it as mindfully as possible."
Interested in more healthy food? Check out some of our other tips: