One of my keys to keeping a lean, clean and green diet throughout the week is by making sure my pantry is stocked with healthier food choices. I shared a post last year about some of my favorite pantry staples, and today I wanted to dive a little deeper into some of my favorite refined carb alternatives.
I know that’s a super specific topic to focus on, but y’all… I am a HUGE fan of all things carbs. Please tell me I’m not alone! Unfortunately, though, the traditional white pasta, bread and cereals I grew up eating aren’t necessarily the best for you. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m all for a hearty bowl of spaghetti or PB&J sammy, but just not every day. So when I’m wanting so fill up on carbs, especially at night, I grab some of these healthier alternatives that are not only delicious, but that your body loves as well.
And, since I have such a huge love for all things carb-y (I blame it on my love for running- HA!), I have quite a few staples that I have tried (and loved) time and time again. So, to help you find some of the best of the best when shopping for these items, I’ve done all the hard work for you! All you need to do is find ’em at your local grocery store and you’re good to go. You’re welcome. ;)
3 reasons to ditch the white pasta
1. It has been stripped of the fiber
Most white carbs are made using flour that has been ground up and refined by stripping off the outer layer of the grain, where the fiber is located. While many of these carbs have vitamins and minerals added back into them (aka enriched), it’s just not as great as the whole grain alternatives.
2. It’s less satisfying
Your body absorbs processed grains and simple sugars quickly, which means it causes your blood sugar spikes, triggering a release of insulin, and subsequent hunger just an hour or two later. “Good carbs” are absorbed at a slower rate, keeping you from a sugar crash during your day.
3. Not much help in the digestion area
As mentioned above, white carbs have been stripped of fiber, which you actually need to have a healthy gut. Did you know that whole grains (aka not refined) can also help you feel fuller longer because the fiber they contain takes longer to digest, AND they can help control your blood sugar? Whole grains also contain lactic acid which promote good bacteria in your large intestine! The most fiber friendly grains are oats, barley and bulgur.
Never let it be said that I am against carbs. On the contrary, I believe that carbs are an essential nutrient in our diets to give us the energy we need to get through the day. As long as they are consumed in moderation, you pick the better-for-you options, and eat them along with lean protein and veggies, you are good to go!
My Favorite Refined Carb Alternatives
Quinoa Pasta – Costco
This was one of the samples that got me while shopping at Costco the other day. I loved that it had so much quinoa in it (hellooo yummy protein!), and that the texture was so soft and perfect for pasta. You don’t even realize it’s not made with white flour! Bonus, it’s ready in under FIVE MINUTES! Hollaaa. You can also find it on Amazon.
Rice and Ancient Grains Medley – Costco
Yet another Costco sample that won me over. I talked about it in my Chicken & Rice Lunch Bowl post, and it’s still a go-to favorite. It has such a delicious nutty flavor, cooks up in 10 minutes, and keeps me full and happy all night long.
Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta – Trader Joe’s This was the first pasta I ever tried that wasn’t made with white flour. After giving it a try, I was hooked, and grab some every time I’m ever in TJ’s. I like to keep it in stock in my pantry, because you never know when a craving for pasta is gonna hit, amiright? You can also find it on Amazon.
Quinoa – Anywhere (I get it in the Sprouts bulk section)
Quinoa is a go-to for me, and has been like a close friend since I first started eating healthier way back in college. My dad still makes fun of me (because he things “quinoa” is a funny word – he pronounces it “qui-no-ah”), but I love that stuff! It’s full of protein, fiber, Omega-3s and so on… It’s amazing stuff, y’all. And did you know that quinoa is not a grain? It’s actually a seed that is consumed and prepared like a grain. Cool, right? Buy in bulk on Amazon!
Rolled Oats – Anywhere (I get it in the Sprouts bulk section)
I love rolled oats for everything from homemade oatmeal (anyone interested in a recipe for some??), blender muffins, and some of my favorite breakfast muffins. Rolled oats are chock full of protein and fiber, which keep me happy and full all morning long! Buy some on Amazon!
Brown Rice – Anywhere (I get it in the Sprouts bulk section)
I love the nuttiness of brown rice, and it’s definitely one of my go-to grains to grab when prepping a meal. It works great in soups, as a side for your lunch or dinner, or in a bowl like this one. Get some on Amazon!
Ezekiel Bread – Anywhere (I love Sprouts)
This bread is my favorite when making toast in the morning, a sandwich for lunch, or even with my meal at night when I want something carb-y to go with my meal. Ezekiel Bread is different from your regular sandwich bread, because it’s made with sprouted grains. I’m not going to get in on all the amazing benefits of this bread (cuz that could last forever), so read about it here! I keep it in my freezer so it lasts forever. :) You can also find it on Amazon!
And, to round today’s post off on a mouth-watering note, here’s one of my most recent recipes that I absolutely loved. It’s made with yummy chicken sausage, fresh veggies, and my favorite quinoa pasta from Costco. It’s super easy to make, and oh so delicious.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the chopped veggies in olive oil and season. Spread evenly on the baking pan. *Add the chicken sausage links now if they are raw. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven.
Slice the chicken sausage (*if it’s already cooked*) and add to the pan. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are fully cooked and the sausage is warmed/cooked completely.
Cook the quinoa pasta in 2 cups of water until tender (about 4 minutes, according to package instructions). Drain the water and add the diced tomatoes.
In a large bowl, mix together the cooked veggies and sausage, pasta and diced tomatoes.
Eat while warm!
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
What are your favorite refined grain alternatives?
Do you crave a specific food group like me? ;)
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small compensation if a purchase is made using one of these links- at no extra charge to you! This helps keep Happily the Hicks up and running, and gives me the ability to continue to bring you content and products that you will love. <3
We grow our own wheat so I make all my own different pastas. Whole wheat only way to go.
Oh wow! That is so cool Candy! I’d love to make my own pasta someday.
I love ezekial bread (I buy the TJ brand) and brown rice and quinoa but I have never tried anything but regular pasta, I will have to give this a try!
Yeeees! The TJ brand is awesome too! And girl, you should give quinoa pasta a try. The key is making sure to not overcook it (it cooks in literally minutes) so it’s not mushy!
This looks so yummy! Definitely giving it a try!
Aw thanks Amanda!! Hope you like it! :)
This looks so delicious! And I love Sprouts, too!
Thanks! And yay!! Another Sprouts lover. <3
These are great, delicious options! I definitely notice a difference in digestion issues when I make bad carb choices. I’m going to implement more of these. Thanks for sharing
Girl, you and me both!! Thankfully there are so many affordable options out there that are great alternatives.
Good for you!! I need to add this to my recipe box!
Thanks! And yes you should! It’s so good :)
I love how you present this with such a happy attitude – so helpful to have these alternatives. Thank you!
Aw thank you so much! That’s definitely a goal of mine, and the vibe I want to give off here on the blog :) Glad you like these alternatives!
Thank you for these alternatives! I’m going to pick up some of the quinoa pasta at Costco next time. The recipe looks easy and delicious!
Oooh yay! Did you end up getting some at Costco? That pasta is my fave!
This is definitely an addition to my weekly meal. Thank you for sharingZ
Awesome! So glad you liked it! :)
This looks delicious! I love most of the products you’ve listed, a few are on my list to try!
Thanks! And that’s awesome :D Which are your favorites?
Well this looks yum!! I haven’t tried quinoa pasta yet, but am loving the chickpea banza pasta!!
Oh it was SO good- you’d love it :) And yyeeess I love that stuff too!