September 23, 2011

Gluten Free Pasta


There are many reasons people are seeking gluten free products.  Many suffer from sensitivity or intolerance to gluten as well as an increasing number of diagnoses of Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease where the body cannot digest gluten.  Gluten comes mainly from products containing wheat, rye, and barley.  Studies have found that gluten is not only difficult to digest for some people, but have shown that it is the hidden culprit to many gastrointestinal issues including constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and acid reflux.  It is also highly inflammatory to the body.  For someone who is dealing with autoimmune conditions or fighting an inflammatory provoked disease like Cancer, it is a good idea to avoid products with gluten.  It is amazing how many pills can be disposed of and how good you can feel simply by eliminating it from your diet. 

Gluten-free products are becoming more abundant in grocery stores today.  Whole Foods markets have sections of the stores dedicated to gluten-free products, and many other grocery stores have tags on the shelves for easy gluten-free recognition.  There are great products out there.  You do not have to be striving for a gluten free diet to enjoy some of the great gluten-free products, snacks, and condiments.  The most difficult product to find a satisfactory substitute for is traditional durum wheat pasta. 

I can now say with confidence that I have tried nearly all of the gluten-free pasta available in stores.  I had previously recommended the Ancient Harvest Corn and quinoa pasta for one of my recipes.  I still like it the best.  If you are trying ot avoid corn products or prefer a different flavor, try one of the others.  Here is a list of products to consider.  

Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Organic Pasta

This is one of my family's favorites.  It is yellow in color due to its high corn content.  I like the linguine and spaghetti best.  It is best to under cook the noodles for 60-90 seconds less than the recommended cooking time.  Drain the al dente noodles and toss in pan with desired sauce.

Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Organic Pasta is a corn based quinoa pasta.  It available in 8 oz. boxes of Elbows, Linguine, Spaghetti, Rotelle, Shells, and Garden Pagodas sold at Whole Foods, Gelsons, or on-line. 


Andean Dream Organic Gluten Free Pasta

If you prefer a pasta without corn flavor, this one would come in third place on my list.  It is made from rice and quinoa flours.  The flavor is good and much like wheat pasta, but the noodles tend to fall apart when cooking like rice pasta.

It is available in 8 oz. boxes of Macaroni, Fusilli, and Spaghetti at whole foods or on-line.


Tinkyada Rice Pasta

This is the best rice pasta available to use as a replacement for traditional wheat pasta. It is available in white and brown rice varieties. I have found that the white rice variety comes very closes to that of traditional wheat pasta, but lacks the nutritional fiber that the brown rice option has. As it is a rice pasta, it is extremely important to watch cooking time. When it is overcooked, it breaks up and becomes gummy in consistency. Under cook it by about 60 seconds less than the recommended cooking time. This pasta must be rinsed before mixing with sauces or serving. It is best served when freshly cooked. The leftovers tend to be sticky.

Tinkyada is available in 10-16 oz. bags depending on many of the shapes offered including Spirals, Linguine, Spaghetti, Lasagna, and Penne. Brown and white rice varieties available in most shapes. It is sold in most grocery stores and on-line.

Trader Joes Organic Brown Rice Pasta

This a a good brown rice pasta. A strong second to the Tinkyada.

It is available in 16 oz. bags of Penne, Spirals, and Spaghetti.

Bionaturae Organic Pasta

Leave it to the Italians to come up with a great gluten-free noodle. This pasta is great. I like the Penne Rigate, Rigatoni, and Fusilli shapes of this brand the best. I have found that the spaghetti and linguine tend to be a bit sticky. Under cook the noodles for 60-90 seconds less than the recommended cooking time. Do not rinse. Note that this product contains soy.

Bionaturae is available in 12 oz. bags of Fusilli, Penne Rigate, Spaghetti, and Elbows at Whole Foods and on-line.

Annie Chun's All Natural Asian Cuisine

For Asian inspired recipes including salads and soups, I have had great success with this brand. The beauty of these nearly translucent noodles is that they cook simply by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl, draining them, and combining with sauces, dressings, or broths.

Annie Chun's Asian is available in 8 oz. boxes of either Maifun and Pad Thai. Brown and White Rice varieties. Some of the products are sold in most grocery stores. Most are available at Whole Foods.

Eden Foods 100% Buckwheat Soba Noodles

Buckwheat is not wheat nor related to wheat in any way. It is also not a grain. It is a broad leaf plant related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is known in Japan for it's warming and strengthening properties as well as being high in protein with all of the essential amino acids including the best form of rutin, a beneficial vitamin C complex flavonoid.
The best way to cook them is the same as that of wheat pasta, but when the water resumes a boil after you put in the noodles, add cold water (about 1/2 cup). Continue this process 2-3 times until the noodles are fully cooked. This technique is known as "shocking" and ensures a firmer tastier result. Rinse the noodles after draining them. Buckwheat noodles are great with a dressing or in broth with vegetables. Try it mixed into freshly made vegetable stock with some scallions, mushrooms, mellow miso, and wakame flakes.

Eden products are available in 8 oz. bags at Whole Foods or on-line. Soba noodles are available in most grocery stores in the Asian foods section, but be sure to check the ingredients. Most brands, including Eden Foods Buckwheat blends, are not 100% Buckwheat and combine greater portions of wheat with the product.

Categories: Food for Thought, Gluten Free, Pasta & Risotto