Who doesn't love pasta?! It is the great comfort food of ages and an amazing carrier for any type of delicious sauce, cheese, oil or flavor you can imagine. However, the traditional pasta options don't offer much in the way of nutrition other than plenty of fast absorbing carbohydrates (which are great if you're about to engage in/recover from some strenuous activity. And we're talking a normal sized portion here, no troughs of pasta necessary.) The whole wheat, brown rice, or added fiber varieties can offer a bit more fiber, but are still very carb rich and nutrient and protein poor.
Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with carbs - our bodies NEED them to function! However, I'm a big proponent of sticking the most nutritious, least processed, whole food version of foods possible. Pasta is a pretty far removed from the original wheat kernel, don't you think?
The more processing done to a food via the food system, the less work our body has to do to break that food down, absorb it and use or store it. Again, sometimes this fast absorption is a good thing (like when you're participating in endurance events). Most of the time, it's more beneficial for your body to have to work to break down your food and absorb it more slowly. This helps keep blood sugar more stable and leaves you satisfied longer after meals.
Enter bean pasta. I discovered this stuff last year and haven't looked back since. It is THE best pasta substitute I've found. The only ingredient is beans and they are LOADED with protein and fiber, both of which help slow digestion and keep you satisfied. One single serving provides double the fiber (11 grams!), triple the protein (24 grams!!!), and half the carbohydrate content (21 grams) compared to traditional pasta. Yes, these beans are still processed in a sense, but they are literally just the whole bean, ground down and re-shaped into pasta. I'll take that over the stripping away of almost all nutrients a kernel of wheat offers to produce traditional pasta varieties.
These bean noodles come in organic edamame, black bean, adzuki bean or soy bean spaghetti and edamame/mung bean fettuccini shapes. Here's a link so you know what to look for on your next shopping trip: http://www.explore-asian.com/bean-pasta/ Look for them with all the other pastas or in the asian food section. Costco also sells the edamame spaghetti in huge boxes! Helloooo budget-friendly, meatless meal to feed the family!
I'll admit I'm no pasta aficionado, and I'm sure any self-respecting Italian would disagree, but I think the texture and taste of any of these bean noodles are pretty darn close to the real deal. They hold up well, carry sauce, don't have any funny bean aftertaste and offer a full serving of protein along with a heap of fiber! Add some veggies and healthy fat and I call that a well balanced plate, my friends!
The secret's out - I love these bean noodles. I'll let you in on another secret too...I absolutely adore peanut butter. The more meals and snacks I can incorporate peanut butter into, the happier my tastebuds. I make it my healthy fat source in as many dishes as humanly possible - sweet, savory and everything in between. This week, I made an awesome savory peanut sauce to go with my veggie and noodle stir fry. Read on and try out this recipe - if you like asian peanut sauces and noodles, you will not be disappointed! BONUS: this recipe contains loads of colorful, nutrient rich veggies, as well as ginger and garlic, which are GREAT for digestion. I used a cool variety of ginger called Hawaiian blue ring ginger (no, it's not mold!). Check it out in the pictures below!
Vegetable Peanut Noodles
Makes 6 servings
For the pasta:
- 10 oz edamame or black bean spaghetti (I used edamame pasta in these photos)
- 2 tsp olive oil
For the peanut sauce:
- 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth (or use the bone broth you made last week!)
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos (you can also substitute this for Braggs liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (use chunky if you like a little texture in your peanut sauce)
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (most asian chili sauces or pastes will work well. This doesn't add much spice at all, but you can choose to skip this)
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the vegetables
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin coins
- 2 small (or 1 large) heads broccoli, cut into bite size florets
- 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
- 8 ounces snap peas, strings removed
- 2 medium zucchini squash cut into thin coins
- 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup raw or roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1-2 limes sliced into wedges
1. Cook the pasta: Fill a large pot about 1/2 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles to boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta, set aside in a bowl and toss with 1-2 tsp coconut oil to prevent noodles from sticking together.
2. Make the peanut sauce: in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all sauce ingredients.
3. Prep and stir fry the veggies: Heat the coconut oil in a large pot or wok over medium heat. Add broccoli and carrots and cook for 3 minutes. Next add bell peppers, snap peas, zucchini and mushrooms. Cook, stirring every couple minutes, until the vegetables are tender - about 5 additional minutes. Mix in the garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 more minutes or until fragrant.
4. Add in the sauce and noodles: Pour peanut sauce over veggie mixture and stir frequently for about 5 minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Remove pot or wok from the heat and toss noodles in with veggie peanut mixture.
5. Serve and enjoy! Portion out a serving of the veggie peanut noodles and top with peanuts, green onion and squeeze lime wedges over the top. This is great just off the stove or eaten cold for lunch the next day!