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Best Whole Wheat Pasta

We are trying to make a few healthy changes in our diets for the new year. I thought I would easily be able to make the change to whole wheat pasta - but just don't like it. Are there any brands that taste more like regular? I had barilla tonight and wasn't impressed.

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  1. Bionaturae Whole Wheat Pasta is my favorite - heads and shoulders above the rest.
    http://www.bionaturae.com/pasta.html

    The other kind that I haven't minded much is Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: stefibles

      Great question, Jenny! I've been wanting to make this change, too.

      stefibles, about the Bionaturae pasta - Does the shape of the pasta make a difference? That is, does the capellini taste better than the linguini? Is the fusilli better than the penne? Or is it all good?

      Thanks,
      Anne

      1. re: AnneInMpls

        You know, it occurs to me that I don't think I've tried the capellini and I think that is the thinnest whole wheat they make. I usually buy the gobetti and chiocciole. However, I need to pick up some groceries today, so I will make a point of buying a different shape to test it out.

        Good question because I've had some brands where the capellini was pretty much falling apart. Bionaturae seems to have the closest texture similar to the "springiness" that you would look for in a regular pasta.

    2. Luigi Vitelli is my favorite.

      1. I don't like it either, Jennie, and I've tried all the brands that everyone has mentioned and others too.
        I finally realized that the reason everyone encourages whole wheat pasta was fiber but I eat plenty, really plenty, of fruits and vegetable and lots of other whole grains.
        The little bit I miss out on in two or three ounces of pasta is not going to make any real difference.
        Life is just too short to eat something you don't enjoy. Eat what you love. No guilt.
        Buon appetito!

        1 Reply
        1. re: MakingSense

          This is true! I'm glad I've found a whole wheat pasta I enjoy, but that's not going to stop me from buying my favorite bucatini when I've made a meaty sauce and just want a bowl of macaroni!

        2. Barilla Plus is the only one I've found that's anywhere close to the regular stuff in color and texture.

          Never buy anything brown in color. Both the Whole Foods 365 pasta and some of the Trader Joe's brands have been awful (TJ's especially; I threw out a few bags). They never cooked through; they just went from harder to al dente to inedible gluey mush.

          I don't mind the Barilla Plus, but I'm not very discerning once it has sauce thrown on it, and I like my pasta past al dente any way.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pei

            I agree wholeheartedly Pei. The Barilla Plus which is mixed I think, tastes closest and is pretty good. All the others I've tried - yick. Also, I made chicken soup and used a whole grain no yolk noodle (can't remember which brand but might have been Ronzoni healthy harvest) that after being incorporated with the soup and the leftovers were refrigerated, completely turned to mush and ruined the rest. I usually keep any pasta I'm serving in soup separate and should have known better to begin with but this "decomposed" much more quickly than any regular pasta I've very seen. Won't make that mistake again.

            1. re: Pei

              I buy Ronzoni multigrain pasta and have never had a problem with it. It cooks beautifully and tastes wonderful and yes, it is brown in color. I have had an organic brown rice pasta that is also very good.

            2. I like Bob's Red Mill. High fiber and lower on cals too.

              1. I've tried a number of them in the past - too long ago to remember which ones - and concluded that I'd rather have pasta sauce on chicken cutlets if I'm trying to avoid the carbs w/ little or no nutrional value in "regular" pasta. The whole wheat pastas I tried had the texture of a cat's tongue licking my tongue - ugh - and what I perceived as an undesirable after taste - even with heavy, strong sauces.

                The other thing that I've done is switch from having pasta as a main course, to having 2-3 oz per person as an appetizer. I cooked 10 oz Sunday night for three people, and there was enough for four, though my husband and his friend quickly took care of that!

                5 Replies
                1. re: MMRuth

                  Two ounces of pasta has 200 calories anyway - regular or whole wheat - before a single drop of olive oil so I view it as a treat and that's why I haven't seen the need to "get used to" eating whole wheat which I just don't enjoy as much.
                  It's part of the meal, a vehicle for the sauces, vegetables and meats.
                  I had to retrain my eye away from the American serving size that I had gotten used to seeing as normal.
                  You can teach yourself new tricks but why do it for something that doesn't give you pleasure?

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    For those of us who are diabetic, the switch to whole grain pasta and rice is also a matter of controlling our blood glucose levels. Eating whole wheat pasta prevents us from having the sugar rush that eating processed, "white" pasta causes.

                    1. re: FlavoursGal

                      I know exactly what you mean. Even though I'm not diabetic, my blood sugar levels are really sensitive so even the starches in whole wheat or brown rice are problems. I limit them along with fruit and some veggies, most of the -ose things. My "modified diabetic" diet has proved healthiest for me in the long run. An occasional small serving of pasta is a special treat so I eat the one I like.

                    2. re: MakingSense

                      I agree completely - that's why I gave up on the whole wheat pasta. The chicken cutlet thing works well for me though.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        its refreshing to see such wise advice here on chowhound. making the switch to whole grain-this or that doesnt really help THAT much with the insulin spiking thing. granted the whole grain pastas will perhaps not spike it as much as the highly refined wheat pastas, but consumed mashed up grain products will inevitably spike your blood sugar, end of story. its because its just too easy for the body to digest. the grain being so pound into mush, the body doesnt have to work at all for it. thus the spike.

                  2. I can't remember the brand I use... it's pretty much the only one at my regular grocery store. However, with both ww pasta and brown rice, I made the switch gradually by making it half regular half new stuff for quite a while. I know the whole grain stuff takes longer to cook - I'd give it a head start, then add the white stuff a bit later.

                    It took me longer to get used to the pasta than the rice, but I do all whole grain now. In the lasagna I made last week, I cannot tell. In my favorite angel hair pasta treat, though, it's never quite the same.

                    1. trader joe's whole-wheat penne is GREAt. the best I've tried. I much prefer it to regular pasta, in fact.

                      1. I have to agree with the posters who have recommended Bionaturae Integrale pasta. I've been using it for a number of years, in a household with teenagers who have never complained about the switch-over from white pasta. I'm sure this is because of its great texture (the "bite" is just right) and flavour (not overly "wheaty").

                        A bonus is that, here in Toronto, it's readily available in most supermarkets and natural foods stores.

                        1. Tried Barilla a couple times, but the ones I tried were blends - not really whole wheat. It's not a bad compromise, but I wanted more flavor and fiber, plus, as Flavourgal pointed out, to not have a spike in blood glucose level. The Trader Joe's brand (spaghetti and penne) had an aftertaste I wasn't crazy about - a bit like cinnamon, just distracting, even when sauced.

                          Finally went to the health store, and bought different brands there - Bionaturae being one. Also tried spelt pasta - that cooks up well (not gummy) and is flavorful too.

                          Does anyone else cook up spaghetti, drain it, and then fry it in olive oil or peanut oil with s&p, til it's chewy and/or crunchy? I use a teflon pan so I don't have to use that much oil. The whole wheat pastas really come to life this way.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Seldomsated

                            "Does anyone else cook up spaghetti, drain it, and then fry it in olive oil or peanut oil with s&p, til it's chewy and/or crunchy? I use a teflon pan so I don't have to use that much oil. The whole wheat pastas really come to life this way."

                            My special secret weekend lunch treat for the last 30 years, at least! I do this with leftover spaghetti/linquine and throw in a sliced green onion or two, and a clove of garlic. Sometimes I add some fresh ginger.
                            Lots of salt and pepper. Totally unhealthy, except for the olive oil and garlic! Haven't made it in a long time....will have to make it with the leftover linguine from last night.
                            Thanks for the reminder!!

                            1. re: p.j.

                              Wow, you two. I never thought of doing that. I normally throw out the leftover pasta since it's cheap, but I think I'll remember this for next time. It sounds simple and very yummy... can't go wrong w/olive oil and garlic.

                              I wish there was consensus on the whole wheat pasta though - if there were something really good, I would just completely switch over.

                            2. re: Seldomsated

                              Spelt pastas are very good. The whole grain is a bit darker than usual, but still very tasty.

                            3. Surprisingly, I think the Ronzoni Healthy Harvest is pretty good. Also Barilla. And you can also look for fresh ww pasta. I think one key is to get long pasta, not cut pasta. The cut ones I tried, including TJs, were really bad.

                              Latini makes farro spaghetti. I bought a few packs in Rome but have not tried them. For a high price, it is available here:

                              http://www.gustiamo.com/cgi-bin/front...

                              1. I like whole wheat pasta as well but prefer soba noodles. Have you considered trying buckwheat soba noodles as a change of pace? They are great in soups, salads and pasta dishes and I believe healthier than regular pasta.

                                Here's a link you might find of interest:
                                http://www.mitoku.com/products/pasta/...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Flynn1

                                  The primary ingredient in most soba is regular wheat flour. It's seems like only the high priced soba has buckwheat as the main, or even rarer, only, starchy ingredient.

                                  1. re: Humbucker

                                    I like Buckwheat Soba Noodles - and do make them occasionally. But I am confused - are you saying they aren't any better than regular pasta? I am going to check the ingredients on the ones I have in my pantry.

                                2. definitely Bionaturae
                                  my favorite type = chiocciole

                                  1. Bionaturae fan as well, here. whole wheat pastas are esp. good with hearty sauces such as ragu or kale-tomato-olive. i find they need more salt than regular but can work very well with really hearty stuff (don't eat much meat).

                                    i like the soba suggestions. never tried spelt pasta but i like spelt bread a lot so i'll be happy to try pasta too

                                    1. Another Bionaturae fan here -- esp. of their chiocciole, less so their penne. Of the widely available supermarket brands, Barilla Plus probably scores highest for texture. (Their rotini isn't bad for making pasta salads.) De Cecco has disappointed me most. It's my favorite brand for regular semolina pasta, but falls apart when it comes to whole-wheat versions.

                                      1. Bionaturae is fabulous.

                                        1. We like the De Cecco brand of whole wheat pasta -- so far it's the best grocery store brand of pasta that we've tried, period, white or whole wheat.

                                          1. Bionaturae, Safeway/Von's "O" organic whole wheat pasta, De Cecco and Gia Russa are great. Trader Joes is pretty good too.

                                            1. Bionature hands-down. The Trader Joes whole wheat pasta is lacking in my opinion... it's a bit gummy.

                                              1. I approach whole wheat noodles in the same way I do with veggie burgers- if you expect it to taste like the real thing, you will be disappointed. I don't always replace my regular pasta. Sometimes I want the nuttier flavor of whole wheat, sometimes I don't. In other words, just accept that whole wheat noodles will not taste like regular noodles and appreciate them for what they are. Also, in my experience, the whole wheat noodles that claimed to taste more like regular pasta were not truly whole wheat.

                                                1. Check out this site to see several reasons to eat whole wheat pasta other than just the fiber. I buy the brands walmart sells, follow the directions and enjoy great pasta!

                                                  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/fo...

                                                  1. I have been buying the Ronzoni, Barilla, and Healthy harvest versions for years but recently found the HH penne to be gummy, with an aftertaste. Against my better judgment, I picked up the store-brand ww spaghetti at Market Basket, a New England chain. In general, store-brand staples are hard to distinguish from national brands, so I buy the former, and years ago routinely used MB's regular pastas. It took a great coupon deal on Ronzoni to make me realize that the MB version was the reason I wasn't happy with my pasta dishes: it had a slightly off, cardboardy taste. I stopped buying MB pasta decades ago. To my great surprise, the MB whole wheat spaghetti (the SOLE ingredient is durum whole wheat flour) is delicious: nutty-tasting, with a great texture. They only have a couple of shapes and I have only had the spaghetti. It is only $1 for a 16oz box, where the name brands have raised the price and chopped off a few ounces. I am sure they don't make their own, so the store brand of other grocery chains is probably the same product.

                                                    1. Bella Terra Organic Whole Wheat Pastas have excellent reviews!!!