Use Your Noodle
Noodles are often cast as the perfect struggle food for college students who have run out of cash on their lunch card. From the fitness community, they are frowned upon for packing on too many unwanted carbs, but in reality that’s not always true. If you pick the correct type of noodle and blend it with other healthy ingredients you have a match made in heaven.
Click through to learn more about which noodles you should be picking up on your next trip to the supermarket.
Perfect for those with gluten allergies, these wheat-free noodles can be hard to master in the kitchen. Among wheat-free alternatives (such as quinoa), spelt most closely resembles the texture and flavor of traditional pasta.
Nutritional bonus: Spelt is packed with complex carbohydrates, and is high in fiber, protein, and B vitamins.
Best with: The nutty flavor of these pastas is the perfect foil for simple sauces.
Recommended product: Organic Vita-spelt Elbows
This buckwheat noodle is a staple in Japan, with an earthy flavor that tastes good both hot and cold. It can also be substituted for whole-wheat fettuccine or linguine in Italian- or California-inspired recipes.
Nutritional bonus: Soba contains flavonoids that help lower cholesterol and blood pressure; another mimics insulin, which makes it great post-workout.
Best in: A cold Japanese salad, or a steaming-hot bowl of Asian noodles.
Recommended product: Hakubaku Organic Soba Noodles
These thick noodles, popular in Japanese and Korean cuisine, are made from wheat flour. Like soba, they can be prepared for either hot or cold dishes. They resemble a fat spaghetti, and are used in many of the same ways as soba—in a stir-fry, cold salad, or bowl of soup.
Nutritional bonus: Since udon isn't made from white flour, it's healthier than many traditional Italian noodles.
Best in: A cold Japanese salad, or a steaming-hot noodle soup.
Recommended product: Eden Organic Brown Rice Udon Pasta
4. Rice Noodles
The rice noodle has become more popular courtesy of Thai favorites like pad Thai. Unlike Italian noodles, these "rice sticks," as they're commonly translated, need to be soaked in hot water until they're transformed into the pliable strands, which are then added to soups, salads, and stir-fry dishes.
Nutritional bonus: They're naturally wheat- and gluten-free, and lower in calories than traditional Italian pastas.
Best with: These silky noodles easily absorb the flavors of their accompanying ingredients, so pair them with your favorite assertive, Asian-inspired sauce.
Recommended product: Thai Kitchen Thin Rice Noodles
5. Whole-wheat Noodles
Dried pastas are typically made from semolina flour, which is made without the germ and bran found naturally in whole wheat. Whole-grain or whole-wheat noodles are made from the entire grain, including germ and bran, and are thus more healthy than the typical store-bought noodle.
Nutritional bonus: More than twice the fiber of traditional pasta. Plus, eating whole-wheat products fills you up faster and keeps you full longer.
Best with: Bold vegetable- and herb-based sauces that can stand up to whole wheat's robust flavor.
Recommended product: DeBoles Organic Whole-wheat Rigatoni
6. Flavored Noodles
The multicolored pastas currently invading supermarket shelves, such as spinach, tomato, and tricolori (actually a combination of white, red, and green), are made by working fresh ingredients like tomatoes, red peppers, and spinach into the dough just before it's cut into shapes like penne and spaghetti.
Nutritional bonus: With the additions of fresh vegetables into semolina-based dough, more nutrients are crammed into what is often dubbed a sinful dish.
Best with: Light sauces that don't obscure the delicate flavor of these colored pastas.
Recommended product: De Cecco Fusilli With Spinach