Photo by Sebastian MaryPasta and white rice are staples in pantries around the world. They go with just about anything from gravy to tomato sauce; they’re filling and they’re quite tasty. The trouble is they have very little nutritional value, and a diet rich in white pasta and rice can actually cause health problems including systemic inflammation, diabetes and other complications.

The good news is that there are some wonderful, nutritious and delicious alternatives to white pasta or rice.

  • Quinoa is a protein-rich grain which is native to the Andes. It has a delightful flavor and is easy to prepare. It tastes great as a cold salad or hot. It can also be made into pasta.
  • Whole wheat pasta has become such a high demand product that you can often find it in your local supermarket right alongside the traditional white pasta. It’s higher in fiber, protein, B vitamins, and minerals than standard white flour varieties.
  • Buckwheat is another alternative to consider. Ever have soba noodles? Soba is made from buckwheat and is high in protein and fiber. It’s delicious with Japanese recipes and flavors and also wonderful in soup.
  • Spelt, commonly used to make gluten-free bread and cereal, can also be used to make pasta. It has a sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Brown rice is just as filling and versatile as white rice but it’s much healthier for you. It is a great source of fiber, has a bit of protein and other nutrients and has a delightful texture.
  • While corn isn’t typically made into pasta, it is what makes up polenta. Polenta is great with traditional Italian flavors like tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It makes a tasty white pasta replacement.
  • Finally, consider trying vegetables like zucchini or spaghetti squash as the foundation for your next pasta meal. Zucchini can be sliced thin, about the width of linguini, sautéed for a few seconds and then topped with pasta sauce and cheese as you normally would. Spaghetti squash is prepared in much the same manner – you can even bake it with your favorite toppings.

The next time you’re searching for an alternative to white pasta and/or white rice, consider one of these tasty options. They’re just as affordable, easy to prepare and they’re healthier and more delicious that the old standby.