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Making the Switch to Whole Wheat Pasta


It makes me crazy that pasta has gotten a bad rap.  People assume its not healthy, or will make you gain weight.  However, pasta is a fabulous food and part of a healthy and balanced diet that kids need.  But remember, the food guide pyramid recommends, half of your grains should be whole grains.

Whole wheat pasta, just like brown rice or whole wheat bread, is absolutely superior to white pasta. Here are some of the reasons:

  • More Fiber!  Need your kids to be “regular”.  More fiber in their diet is the perfect place to start. (one cup has approximately 4 grams)
  • More nutrients!  Per calorie, whole wheat pasta (or whole semonlina or whole duram) has more nutrients such as maganese and vitamin B.
  • More Protein.  Per cup, the whole grain varities have almost 8 grams of protein.
  • Is more filling! Due to the higher fiber and more nutrients, whole wheat pastas fill those little tummies up longer, and prevent spikes and drops in blood sugar the way white does.
  • Studies show women who eat more whole grains, weigh less.  Sorry Atkins, over the long term, you lose.
  • When mixed with sauces like Tomato sauce, the vitamin C in the tomato sauce, helps absorb the iron in the pasta!  Double bonus.

How do you make the switch with the least amount of whining from your family?  Simple!

  • Start half and half.  Even 1 cup whole wheat pasta mixed with 1 cup white pasta will add nutritional value to your meal.
  • Experiment.  There are so many varities and brands of whole wheat pasta.  Don’t try one and decide you don’t like it. Some are smooth, some are earthy and grainy.  Just depends on your preference.
  • Sauce.  Some of our meals are easier to eat with whole wheat than others.  A heavy saucy meal, such as spaghetti, no one ever notices what kind of noodles I use.  However, one we eat a lot that only has vegetables and parmesan cheese….very obvious.
  • Start with their favorites.  Do they love mac and cheese?  Later this week I’ll post our recipe for mac and cheese.  Using whole wheat pasta in a dish they already like is a great way to start.

Last night we made a delicious dish. No recipe for it, because I just threw it together.  However, anytime I make a dish like this, I indulge my kids and separate it all out on their plate for them. I’m a pushover like that.  Veggies in one section, pasta in one, and their chicken in the other…. And as always with pile of ketchup for ketchup boy.

  1. Whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  2. Cooked chicken
  3. Bag of mixed frozen vegetables
  4. Yoshida sauce!

What other ideas do you have for making the switch?

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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Switching to whole wheat pasta was one of the easiest switches we made. It does cook a little differently and the final product is a little different in texture, but the changes are fairly insignificant to me. And I’ll also second brown rice pasta! We used that when my daughter was on a wheat free diet, and it’s great!

I am one of those that drives you nuts assuming that grains aren’t good. We get our whole grains in but I try to not do so much. With your advice I may change things around a bit- I am sure we could use more. We definitely don’t need the fiber boost in our house and maybe that is because we do eat whole grains already. I will have to do some looking in my recipe archives to supply you with a good whole wheat pasta recipe. 🙂

My wife and I love whole wheat pasta now. It’s rare that we have regular pasta. To be honest, I just think it tastes better. I love it with chicken, broccoli and pesto sauce.

I have to say that I have NOT missed regular white flour pasta at all. I was unsure when I first bought whole wheat pasta, but my family can’t tell the difference and I love it!
It feels good to be eating a food that we love, and not missing out on the empty calories of white flour.
Trader Jo’s has a wonderful whole wheat pasta.. it’s my fave!

Hugs.. Amy