The Healthy Pasta Alternative (Beyond Zoodles!) That’s Actually Good
You can't fool me or my husband when it comes to subbing ingredients. We can always tell when applesauce is swapped into baked goods. We know instantly when a fountain soda is diet. And we'll call you out if you've used avocado instead of butter. These swaps aren't necessarily bad things — as long as we know about them before they enter our mouths.
The only swap we're notoriously not okay with is pasta. Zoodles and spaghetti squash, while delicious, are not pasta and should not be treated as such! Gluten-free pasta is, well, not pasta. (It's gluten-free pasta, which is different!) And whole-wheat pasta, although good for you in comparison, is never okay in our book. If we're gonna eat pasta, we want pasta — the stuff made of eggs and white flour.
Needless to say, we were super skeptical when everyone we know started talking about Banza. Pasta made of chickpeas? Pass.
And then we tried Banza. And we had to eat our words.
To be upfront with you guys: My husband would eat his weight in chickpeas every day if he could, so despite his penchant for real noodles, I figured he'd get behind Banza. I like chickpeas less and prefer them in hummus form, which meant I'd be more critical of the stuff.
For our first foray into Banza, I used one of the brand's recipes and made this mushroom, goat cheese, and spinach pasta bake, which is similar to one of my go-to pasta recipes featuring goat cheese, butternut squash, and walnuts (similar in that the melted goat cheese becomes the sauce).
Buy: Banza Chickpea Pasta Variety Pack, $23 for six boxes
I had heard that, even though the serving size on the box (2.5 ounces) is more than regular pasta (2 ounces), you're actually supposed to eat less of this stuff because it fills you up in a way that regular pasta doesn't. So I served up mini bowls (because pasta is always better in a bowl versus a plate!) and we took our first bite simultaneously. We didn't hate it! In fact, we actually more than liked it. The noodles still had that al dente mouthfeel that a lot of fake pasta doesn't. There was no weird aftertaste, and we didn't feel like we were being duped. We polished off our bowls. And then I refilled them.
In the end, we ate the same amount of noodles that we usually do. (I had made the entire box and I had just a few cups leftover.) We ate lots of fiber and protein (Banza is touted as having two times the protein, four times the fiber, and nearly half the net carbs) — we also ate lots of sugar. There are 20 grams of sugar in one box! (Although company reps tell us it's the natural sugar from the chickpeas and there's no added sugar.)
One quick thing: The leftovers weren't as great as the first time — they were mushier than I'd like — so I made a mental note to make just what we'd eat in one sitting in the future.
Buy: Banza Chickpea Pasta Mac & Cheese, $22 for six boxes
Since then, we've also had the shells and cheese, which did not disappoint. Although we're not fooling ourselves into thinking this is a healthy meal. In general, though, it's nice to know that Banza is an acceptable option for us if we're ever trying to eat fewer carbs or if any of our gluten-free friends come for dinner.
Have you tried Banza yet? What did you think?