It’s Time to Give Bean Pasta a Try! by Cari Culp, RD

Legume pasta is all the rage these days and rightfully so! I have been having so much fun with it in the kitchen. I am frequently asked if veggie (tri-colored) pasta or whole wheat pasta is better than regular pasta. Well the answer is, not really. There is not much difference in the ingredients, total carbohydrate and fiber among regular, veggie and whole wheat pasta varieties. If you really want to see a difference in nutrition, it is time to give legume pasta a try! With most legume pastas containing 20-25 grams of protein and around 10 grams of fiber per serving, you throw in some veggies and a healthy sauce and voila, balanced, plant-based meal complete in minutes! 
The research shows we get the same benefit from eating beans whether we eat the whole bean or the bean ground into a flour. Some of these superpowers associated with beans include better blood sugar control for hours and even into the next day according to research, improved gut health, portion control and cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention. So who says you can’t have pasta?! 
There are more and more varieties of legume pasta popping up and they can be found in most grocery stores. Some contain bean flour plus some added ingredients like brown rice flour. Others literally contain only one ingredient which is the bean flour. I prefer to go with the single ingredient varieties, like Tolerant Lentil Pasta or Barrila Chickpea Pasta, because you get more fiber and protein and, the fewer ingredients the better right? I have tried most of the bean pastas and found that there is not a big difference in texture compared to regular pasta. Add a sauce and you almost can’t tell the difference except quicker satiety from all the fiber and protien therefore, smaller portion size! My absolute favorite from a texture, taste and quality perspective is the Tolerant brand Lentil Pasta. So hopefully I have changed the game for you when it comes to pasta! Here are a few of my favorite recipes to help you make the switch. Enjoy!


Lentil Pasta Primavera with Walnut Pesto:

1. Cook 1 package of lentil pasta according to directions. 
2. Sauté sliced squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Throw in some spinach and sautée a minute more. You can also add sliced red, orange or yellow bell peppers to the mix if you like. 
3. Make Walnut Pesto:

Ingredients: 1 cup raw walnuts2 cups basil1 cup spinach1/3 cup fresh lemon juice3 garlic cloves1/2 cup olive oil1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions: blend all ingredients in high powered blender until smooth.

4. Mix all ingredients together with shredded Parmesan to taste. You may not need all of the pesto. Extra can be mixed with roasted spaghetti squash, used as a dip for raw veggies or drizzled on to salmon before baking.

Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti:

Ingredients:

3 cups yellow and red cherry tomatoes

2 zucchini, spiralized (I buy the package of pre-spiralized zucchini in the produce section and use all of it)

4 ounces of legume spaghetti

Parmesan for topping


Avocado Sauce: 1 avocado 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley 3–4 green onions (green parts)1 garlic clovejuice of 1 lemon freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Pulse all sauce ingredients together in a high powered blender until smooth. Set aside.

2. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Heat the cherry tomatoes in a large skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Sauté until soft and slightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Add the zucchini to the same pan and toss for 1-2 minutes, until tender-crisp.

5. Add the spaghetti and the avocado sauce. Toss until combined.

6. Season with salt and pepper, top with reserved tomatoes and Parmesan. Serve immediately.


*Recipe found here

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