Five Gluten Free Grain Free Pasta Options
- Posted on September 30, 2014
- in All Recipes (Gluten|Grain|Soy Free), Blog Posts, Dairy Free Recipes (+Gluten|Grain|Soy-Free), Main Dish Recipes (Gluten/Grain/Soy/Dairy-Free; Paleo), Paleo Recipes, Reviews - Products & Restaurants, Vegetarian Recipes
- by GGF Gourmet
I’m often asked how I’ve made such dramatic changes to my health (I lost 72 pounds, no longer have diabetes or an elevated A1C, high cholesterol, or evidence of inflammation present; you can read my story here).
When they find out that the changes I made have to do with a gluten free lifestyle, their expression often changes (and it’s not exactly in a joyful way.) In fact, a common response is “Oh, I could NEVER eat the way you do…I just HAVE to have my pasta!” This is a regular topic in these conversations. Pretty much daily.
I used to think that way, too…until Celiac Disease and my own poor health required me to think differently!
So, I’m pretty excited to offer up some solutions and options for this crowd of non-joyful facial expressions. I can just hear you smiling now!
These products all meet my strict criteria: gluten free, grain free, soy free, preferably free of refined sugar, and free of artificial colors, flavors, and other hidden ingredients and fillers. Some of these new packaged possibilities are made in a certified gluten free facility; this is definitely important in order to avoid chances of cross-contamination. All of these options are dairy free (bonus!)
So, twist my arm…pasta has returned to this GGF girl!
Today, I’m comparing FIVE options for you to try. FIVE pasta options! Did I just hear myself say that?
These options are in no particular order. I wanted to be as objective as possible in this review, and provide you with the benefits and downfalls (if any) of each option. I am not affiliated with any of these companies, products, or farms that grow the produce. However, if they want to shower me with some grain free pasta or non-GMO produce, I definitely would not turn it away!
I met the owner of Power Pasta at the Gluten Free Food and Allergy Fest that was held in Indianapolis in August. She blessed me with a plate of gluten free pasta, but because I am incredibly picky about the ingredients I eat, I had to wander down to her booth and read the package for myself. I’m sure I seemed like quite a gluten free diva at the time, but I believe in being super careful about what you put in your body…especially for anyone with Celiac Disease or an auto-immune condition. (Take this free quiz to to see if you might have gluten sensitivity.)
The pasta itself was delicious. It held up beautifully during the cooking process, and the taste and texture were absolutely amazing. The pasta is made from a simple ingredient: red lentil beans. They also make a black bean pasta, which I haven’t tried.
Pros: Delicious, simple (no added ingredients), vegetarian/vegan, certified gluten free, great texture, black bean version available, packaged as a good portion size (12 ounces or sold in bulk). This pasta is pure protein, not a carbohydrate (that is a terrific benefit!) which means you will get full from it, but not in a pasta-carbohydrate way…in a protein way! It also keeps on the shelf in the pantry – it doesn’t take up precious space in the freezer/refrigerator.
Cons: The pasta, being made from beans, doesn’t technically meet the criteria of a strict Paleo lifestyle (if that applies to you). Also, if your immune system isn’t fully healed, you may still experience digestive issues from bean consumption. If you follow a traditional gluten free lifestyle with a healed intestinal tract, you’re in the clear! I also want to check with the owner to see if she uses dried or canned beans to make the pasta. I’ll get back to you on that one!
Price: $11.99 per 12 ounce package (must order two); or $38 for a 3 pound bag. Free shipping from both on their website.
I first saw Cappello’s on Instagram earlier this year. They were touting some amazing grain-free pasta options, and I’d been really wanting to try them. At the time, the pastas were only available from their website, and I found the shipping to be a bit cost-prohibitive. In April of this year, I attended the Paleo f(X) show in Austin (see my post) and found out afterward that Cappello’s had a booth there…but somehow I missed them! So, I was ecstatic when I found out that their products are now in Earthfare stores – which is just a 45 minute drive from me.
I confess that I just had to try all of their pasta options (fettuccine, lasagna and gnocchi), but for today we’re sticking with the basics (fettuccine). Being that my son was headed off to college for the fall, I wanted to have a nice dinner with his favorite: a plate of homemade spaghetti.
I read over the instructions on the box, and then read over it again. It seemed just way too easy after so much anticipation! And…it WAS easy. Essentially, you just flash boil it and it’s ready to eat! I added my homemade meat and mushroom sauce, along with some of my bread rolls on the side (recipe here). Voila! Dinner was made, and it was seriously delicious.
Pros: Ready to eat in the time it takes to boil water, delicious, great texture, the ingredients include cage free eggs, excellent packaging, vegetarian, and meets the Paleo lifestyle qualifications. Products are tested for the presence of gluten.
Cons: Must be kept refrigerated or frozen, package size is small (9 oz), contains xanthan gum (I try to avoid this since it can come from a corn source), contains tapioca (this is a starch that does raise blood sugar; use sparingly with autoimmune conditions and diabetes).
CONFESSION: I used to love to eat frozen pasta. This tastes almost EXACTLY like the frozen pasta I used to munch on!
Price: $11-$14 per 9 ounce package (must order 4 on their website or the sampler pack). It’s not clear if shipping charges are tacked on at checkout or if they’re included.
3. SHIRITAKI NOODLES
I first met shiritaki noodles earlier this year while participating in farmer’s markets to raise awareness of Celiac Disease. They are made from a Korean yam, and contain virtually no other ingredients. My understanding is that they grind the yams to a flour, and then make noodles out of them.
Some people complain that the noodles have a “fishy” smell. I haven’t personally experienced this, but I’ve been getting mine from a local farmer who imports them in bulk, so maybe the smell is dissipated within the lot (rather than being confined to a small package). I truly have no idea why they would smell fishy anyway, since they are made from a vegetable.
Earlier this year I posted about using these to make a fabulous (and vegetarian!) stir fry that even my non-vegetable-eating kids loved. The cool thing about these is that they take on the juice of whatever you cook them with – so although they may look a little strange, the taste and texture are really good, and eventually they will mesh with the sauce or even turn white if left to sit in water.
Pros: The noodles are easy to cook, hold their texture well, taste fine, are vegetarian/vegan and the package serves many; they are very economical at under $3 per 12 ounce package, and after cooked, they keep for long periods of time in the refrigerator.
Cons: Difficult to find locally if you don’t have an Asian market available; online places charge shipping (and the noodles may have a “fishy” smell according to reviews and contain other additives that aren’t Celiac friendly). They also don’t present the prettiest if you are trying to impress your date with a plate of your homemade spaghetti (if he asks what “those worms are,” your date might be over.)
4. SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Before I had any of the above options available to me, someone suggested I try a spaghetti squash. I winced at the word “squash” and wanted to start crying, but I swallowed hard and tried heavy meditation to re-program my brain. I’ve never been a squash eater…just the word conjures up “yuck” in my brain.
However, the mediation must have worked, because when I wrote this blog post, I was pretty excited! It was also one of the very first posts on my blog, so that may have been part of my enthusiasm…but this is truly a great option to replace your pasta. If you need help making a spaghetti squash, just follow the easy instructions in my post, and I think you’ll be amazed at how versatile this vegetable is!
Pros: Easy to make, readily available, self-contained, vegetarian/vegan, low carbohydrate, one squash serves many, rich in fiber, good texture if cooked right, seeds are great as a crunchy sea salt treat when roasted.
Cons: It’s still squash, so the texture can be a challenge (my daughter still has a hard time overcoming it). Being that it’s a vegetable, it contains a lot of water, so it can become squishy after serving.
Cost: $.50-$1.99 per pound, or grow yourself organically for the cost of an heirloom seed packet.
One day a while back, I had a yam I didn’t know what to do with. This was well before I’d even heard about a spiralizer (zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,”are definitely another grain free option, but I haven’t made them yet). So, if you don’t have a spiralizer (I don’t yet), never fear…yamsketti is here!
This was so easy to make it scared me. It also scared me that I was eating a yam. I know I had bought it with good intentions, but sweet potatoes and yams just haven’t been something my tastebuds have come to appreciate yet. Well…this actually made its way onto my plate AND I ATE it!
You can check out the post here, but it was pretty simple…use a julienne peeler on a yam, saute, add some veggies, saute some more…and serve!
PROS: Readily available, low glycemic, vegetarian/vegan, can be grown in your garden, rich in vitamin C
CONS: Contains higher levels of carbohydrates than the other vegetable options, can be a challenge to shred/julienne without a food processor (I only cut myself once).
Cost varies with seasonal availability. Stock up when the grocery stores have them for the holidays (they usually offer them for a lower price), or grow them yourself for the cost of an organic seed yam (beware you have to dig deep to harvest them!)
I hope this helps you feel more pasta-empowered. The gluten free, grain free, soy free, dairy free sort of empowerment, that is!
Which one is your favorite? Are there other kinds I should try?