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5 Gluten-Free Pasta Choices

Gluten free pasta can be found in most any grocery store, but to find a pasta that is BOTH gluten-free AND low glycemic can be a difficult task. If you've been around Trinity Health Coaching for long, you know that our recipes are:

1. Delicious

2. Gluten-free

3. Low glycemic load (which means it will not cause your body to produce the fat-storing hormone insulin)

Just because a pasta brand is labeled as “gluten free” does not automatically make it a healthy choice. Below are the 5 best gluten-free pasta’s available, listed in order from highest glycemic load (GL) to lowest. As you read the below 5 choices, remember you want the GL of the TOTAL MEAL to be 10 or less. This includes your sauce and side dishes. That understood, you will see that the below is listed from worst choice to best choice.

1 -- Brown Rice Pasta is the most readily available gluten-free pasta in grocery stores. However, it has a GL of 29—which makes this a worse choice for most people than wheat pasta. Despite the fact that it is “brown” it still causes a spike in the fat-storing hormone insulin. Brown rice pasta is only a good choice for those who have celiac disease and don’t care about weight gain or an insulin spike.

2 -- Buckwheat Pasta: Yes, even with the name ‘wheat’ in the title, buckwheat pasta is truly

gluten-free. It is light brown in color and has a pleasant mild taste, similar to whole wheat pasta. But I have yet to find a buckwheat pasta brand that is made of 100% buckwheat. Orgran buckwheat pasta is 80% buckwheat and 20% rice, so one-cup of this pasta is going to have a GL similar to regular wheat pasta, but at least it is gluten free.

3 -- Quinoa Pasta: Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, and is also a “complete” protein.

It contains all the essential amino acids, making it a great food for vegetarians. Quinoa is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. One-cup of quinoa pasta has a GL of about 15.

Just don’t be fooled by the name “quinoa” on the label, as many so called “quinoa pastas” contain corn. Corn is high glycemic and most often genetically modified. Andean Dream quinoa pasta is free of corn and GMOs, so it is a decent gluten-free pasta substitute.

4 -- Edamame Spaghetti Pasta – Now we get to our top two picks—the ones we eat at our house. This pasta tastes delicious cooked plain with garlic, or covered with meatballs and marinara sauce. The benefits of organic edamame are many. But take note that I said ORGANIC edamame, as 95% of soy grown these days is genetically modified—so take care when you choose a brand.

Edamame is high in fiber, high in protein, and has a high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that your body can convert to EPA and DHA. These are compounds linked to many health benefits, including better brain function and a decreased risk of stroke and heart disease. I love it when we get to eat this delicious pasta. My favorite brand is sold at Costco, or you can get a giant 2 pound bag from Amazon HERE.

5 -- Spaghetti Squash – This is the “pasta” that we eat multiple times a month. This is Bob’s favorite, and I enjoy it greatly too. One large squash costs approximately $5.00, so it is about the same price per serving as edamame pasta.

Click HERE to go to our blog segment on spaghetti squash and learn how to cook it.

The below chart gives you a look at the two best choices, the two “okay” choices, and three terrible choices:

Below are 5 good tips to follow when eating pasta:

#1 - Do not use any pasta that has a GL of greater than 15.

#2 - Watch your portion size and eat only the amount shown in the right column.

#3 - Make sure you have plenty of PROTEIN with the meal, as protein slows the digestion of the pasta and lowers your insulin spike.

#4 - Make sure you have plenty of FAT with the meal, as fat slows the digestion of the pasta and lowers your insulin spike.

#5 - Make sure you get plenty of FIBER in the meal, as fiber slows the digestion of the pasta and lowers your insulin spike.

By now you know the error in America’s good ‘ole food pyramid that says pasta and other complex carbs can be eaten in large amounts. If you’re still unclear as to why this is so, click below to watch Dr. Sarah Halberg’s short TedX talk on carbs, weight gain and insulin resistance.

How Has Pasta Changed Over The Years?

Traditional Sicilian pasta is made from locally grown wheat, which contains the nutrient-rich germ and bran. These authentic versions of pasta are hand-made and eaten fresh the same day. Here in North America we use hybridized wheat that is far higher in gluten than traditionally grown wheat. The germ and bran are also typically removed during processing. We end up with high-gluten, preservative-filled, ultra-refined pastas. This modern pasta creates inflammation in our intestines. Scientists now recognize the link between inflammation and gluten-rich foods such as pasta, and are sharing the MANY health benefits to be gained by avoiding them. So how do we do that and enjoy one of life’s great pleasures—Italian food!

See Bob makes noodle-less lasagna in the below blog:

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