Every time I go grocery shopping, I peruse the organic, gluten-free, ‘healthy’ aisles at the stores so I can stay on top of any new products that are out there. And every week, I choose one product to try. If you follow me on instagram, you have seen my ‘grocery store find of the week’ posts. Some of my past finds include chobani flips, coconut and goji snakaroons, sambazon smoothies, etc. Every week I always have a stare down with the explore asian pasta. And every week I walk away from it and just hope it will be on sale the next week. Well, I was one happy little foodie when Explore Asian agreed to send me a few of their goodies in exchange for a product review.
I was sent their organic black bean spaghetti, gluten free soybean noodle soup in a vegetarian chicken flavor, organic wheat noodles (made from wheat flour and organic brown rice flour), and organic mung bean fettuccine.
All of the products I was sent are vegan, organic, kosher, and gluten free (except the wheat noodles). I was most excited to try the black bean spaghetti and mung bean fettuccine as they are made with just two ingriedents; beans and water. While I still love regular old whole wheat pasta, I was very intrigued by this pasta made from beans.
Nutritionally, both bean pastas offer (per 2 oz), around 180 calories, 2g total fat (1g saturated), 12g fiber, 5g sugar, and 25g protein. In addition, they are also a good source of calcium at 10-13% and a great source of iron at 36%. Just to compare, my whole wheat spaghetti (per 2 oz) offers 200 calories, 1g total fat (0g saturated), 6g fiber, 7g protein, 2% calcium, and 10% iron. From a nutrition standpoint, the bean pastas are great alternatives. Not just for those who are looking for a gluten free option but for anyone looking for a healthier pasta option. Just to be clear, whole grain pastas are also a healthy option as they do still offer whole grains.
Texture wise, the bean pastas were actually very similar to regular pasta which made it easy to treat it as regular pasta.
I paired the black bean pasta with diced tomatoes, sauteed red onions, and mixed bell peppers. I decided to keep it simple so I could enjoy the flavor of the pasta – which I did enjoy, by the way. I also made my famous thai pasta using these noodles (recipe here) and the black bean pasta paired wonderfully with the rest of the flavors.
Edward and I shared the gluten free soybean noodle soup which came in a vegetarian chicken flavor. It reminded me of ramen noodles in the sense that it came with little packets of flavoring so you could add as much or as little flavor as you wanted. I also liked that the salt packet was separate so I could control the amount of sodium. You’re basically supposed to just add boiling water to the noodles and flavorings, mix everything together, then let it sit for a few minutes. Edward didn’t really care for this and I admit it did take some time to get used to the texture. the noodles reminded me of….shoe strings lol They were just kind of long and chewy and, well, let’s just say I won’t be buying this in the future.
Next we tried the brown rice udon which was a wheat and brown rice pasta. It was absolutely delicious. The texture was different from regular pasta but in a good way – it was…stickier for lack of a better word. Edward and I both really liked it, though. It also had a nice flavor. I served these noodles with tomato sauce and we both loved it. Edward thought I added cheese so I guess these noodles have a slight cheese flavor to them, also? This is a great noodle if you’re looking for something a little different from your regular pasta.
We tried the mung bean fettuccine last. I just added some veggies and tomato sauce to this batch so I could get a feel for the flavor without much else added to it. I actually really did enjoy this one. I’m not sure if I would necessary purchase it again but it was still pretty good.
Overall verdict: I really enjoyed most of these products both nutritionally and flavor-wise. . I would definitely purchase the brown rice udon noodles and the black bean spaghetti in the future. Don’t think I would purchase the soybean noodle soup but I would possibly purchase the mung bean fettuccine.
Question of the day:
Have you ever tried these products? Did you like them? If you follow a gluten free diet, what is your favorite gluten free pasta?