This one’s gonna be a quick one, because I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share a fantastic new product! Okay, well it’s not new new, but it’s new to me, and I’m sure it’s going to be new for most of you!
Allow me to introduce Banza – pasta made from chickpeas! It’s available in the basics (spaghetti, linguini, and angel hair), plus all the shapes you could possibly want, including the fun ones that our inner child can’t live without: penne, shells, rotini, elbows, ziti, cavatappi, rigatoni, and even wagon wheels! Heck. Yes.
I realize I unintentionally have a little bit of trend going on here, since my last post also happens to be chickpea-related! Whoops-a-daisy! Well, hey, you know what? That’s okay, because chickpeas are a wonder bean, so they deserve two posts in a row!
I’ve been waiting months for this. Months! Ever since I first heard of Banza, I was chomping at the bit to try it out. At first, it wasn’t in any stores near me. Then my Whole Foods started carrying it, but (ever the frugal Franny that I am) I was stuck waiting for it to go on a good sale. Fast forward a few months later, following our cross-country move, and I realized that several stores in our new city carry it! Yay!
As luck would have it, I happened to come across a coupon online for – wait for it – a BOGO. Happy dance! Not only that, but the timing hit perfectly that our Fresh Thyme was running a $2/box sale on Banza. So, I walked out victoriously, with a haul of four boxes for $4. Score!
To be honest, we have cut way, way back on our pasta intake. A year ago, we were probably eating pasta at least once (maybe twice) a week. That’s totally shifted, and now we eat it once or twice in a whole month. Why? Quinoa! And jasmine rice. Those two have put pasta on the back burner.
I’m certainly not a “carbs are the devil” person, so I’m not here to judge you for eating pasta. Pasta is the original comfort food, in my opinion.
However, if you’re going to eat wheat pasta, please buy organic. Wheat is a huge GMO crop, which is a bad thing in and of itself, but GMO crops like this are heavily doused with dangerous synthetic pesticides – totally a double whammy for your body. If you’re do-or-die for wheat pasta, I recommend Whole Foods’ own brand organic pastas for the lowest prices around (other than Aldi’s organic spaghetti and linguini).
That said, it’s always great to have alternatives, and Banza is a fantastic alternative for whatever your reason may be! Do you have a gluten allergy? Banza is wheat-free, hence gluten-free. Do you want to add more fiber in your diet? A 3.5oz serving of Banza contains 10g more fiber than a serving of regular pasta. Are you watching your carbs? Banza has almost 50% less net carbs per serving than regular pasta.
It also stood out to me that one serving contains a whopping 25g protein (50% Daily Value), along with 50% DV of iron. That’s the chickpeas talking! Typical pasta appears to only have around 5 to 7g protein and 0% of iron, from what I was able to find in a quick Google search (we dump all our pasta in glass jars, so I literally have no boxes in our house to reference).
With all of that being said, none of this would matter if the pasta were awful, am I right? I’ve bought rice pasta before, and it was so nasty I could barely eat it, so I went into this cautiously optimistic. I will say, though, that Banza has glowing reviews online, so I had a good gut feeling!
Without further ado, last night became the night. We popped open a box of penne, and I’ve gotta say, I’m super impressed. If someone had served me a plate of this without telling me it was chickpeas, I would never have known any different. For real.
Prep-wise, it cooks up just like wheat pasta. You know the drill: boil water, stir in pasta, cook 9-11 minutes to desired firmness, strain/rinse, serve! Easy peasy, pun intended.
I will note, however, that hot, freshly-drained chickpea pasta has a different scent than hot wheat pasta (which itself isn’t the sexiest smell). I didn’t say bad different, just different. Rest assured, though, that once it’s on the plate and covered in whatever sauce, the smell is gonzo.
This sure looks like any old pasta to me, doesn’t it?!
Taste and texture-wise, it was exactly what I was hoping for. As silly as it sounds, I actually didn’t try a noodle sans sauce, because I was literally hangry and ready to rock and roll – whoops! But, again, I’ll say that the difference between this and regular pasta is virtually non-existent. The texture is definitely key, as it holds up really, really well under the sauce and didn’t even begin to hint at going soggy on me. I feel like there was a slight additional flavor, even maybe a hint of a sweetness, but it played nicely with the sauce, and enhanced the flavor of my meal.
Since we’re talking about my dinner last night, I can’t not pass on this quick, simple dinner idea – serve Banza with a nice (organic) basil tomato sauce (I buy Aldi’s Simply Nature pasta sauces, which are fab!) and top with one of Dr. Praeger’s Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burgers. It tasted like chicken parm, minus the chicken!
Anyways! If you can’t tell, I fell in love with Banza, and I think you just might, too. I’m so happy that I have three more boxes squirreled away in our pantry, plus I still have some extra coupons that I need to redeem pronto before they expire.
With Banza in my pantry, there’s no doubt I’m going to be way more tempted to bring pasta back onto our weekly menus more than it’s been lately – I can hardly wait to try it out with some of our favorite pasta-centric recipes! I’m not saying I won’t still use organic wheat pasta here and there, but, well, Banza is the new sheriff in this town.
Interested in trying Banza? Head over to their website’s coupon page to snag some savings or to use their product locator! If you’ve already tried it, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
Wishing you healthier, happier days!