Paleo Pasta has arrived ... oh yes! Nomad Health is a UK start-up with an amazing array of paleo (and primal) pasta's using either grain-free or ancient grain ingredients. The big question is though, do they taste good?
It's not often that I see a new Paleo product that could be genuinely game-changing for a lot of people living on a restricted diet - coeliacs, gluten-intolerant, paleo fanatics rejoice!
One of the big things you miss when following a Paleo lifestyle is pasta - not the effect it has on you afterwards (ugh) but just the taste and comfort of a big bowl of pasta, you just can't replicate it ... or can you?
Enter Nomad Heath, a recently launched UK company (yay for it being UK-based, will make it more affordable). Set up by Marianna (a coeliac) and Keith (gluten intolerant and diabetic), they have created an array of seed and ancient grain-based pasta, that looks, well, just like 'normal' pasta.
(Picture courtesy of the super-talented Donna from Eighty20Nutrition - check out her a-m-a-zing recipes!)
All of the pasta's use Tapioca as a base, then adds eggs and the predominant 'flavour' in flour form (options are sesame seed, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, sorghum and green banana). Tapioca is a bit of a grey area for Paleo purists (it's the purified starch of the cassava root - low in nutrients but a 'safe starch' nonetheless. For me, in moderation, it's just fine).
Sometimes the seed or ancient grain flour has been 'defatted' and I asked Marianna about that - essentially if they didn't de-fat some of the flours, they wouldn't bind to make the pasta. So not a fat reduction exercise, just making sure the pasta is the best quality it can be. Fair enough, I won't go all 'Paleo Police' ;-)
Nutritionally, these pasta's really do pack a punch (putting the tapioca aside) - all have much lower carbohydrates than regular pasta, high plant protein, high fibre and full of vitamins and minerals. They'll sustain you more evenly and for longer than regular pasta, that's for sure.
I was very lucky to get my hands on 3 of the varieties of pasta and so I selflessly (!) tasted all of it with my family 'naked' (the pasta, not us haha!) and then created a family favourite that I've not made for ages, roasted vegetable pasta. Here's what we thought:
Looks just like 'normal' pasta, right?!
Green Banana Penne:
Ingredients: Green Banana Flour, Sesame Flour, Egg, Tapioca
A really pleasant flavour, nothing distinct or overpowering about it, just what you'd want to have a rich sauce with. Texture was slightly grainy and a little dry but not unpleasant - with a sauce or some pesto you wouldn't know you were eating grain-free pasta. Pasta fell apart slightly from cooking (that may be my bad cooking skills though!) but didn't detract from the enjoyment.
Marks out of 10 - 8/10
Sesame Seed Penne:
Ingredients: Sesame Seed Flour, Tapioca, Egg
A lovely, slightly nutty flavour, would work perfectly with pesto I reckon. Texture was slightly grainy and a little dry but not unpleasant - with a sauce or some pesto you wouldn't know you were eating grain-free pasta. Pasta fell apart slightly from cooking (again, that may be my bad cooking skills though!).
Marks out of 10 - 8/10
Ingredients: Flaxseed meal, Tapioca, Egg
Saved the best til last! I'll be honest, when I saw it cooked, it wasn't the most appealing looking pasta colour-wise BUT oh my word it's amazing, you wouldn't have a clue it was grain-free! Really smooth texture, held together really well. A clear winner in our house.
Marks out of 10 - 10/10 (first product on this site to get full marks!)
My family inform me I definitely have to buy more (and that we have to try every other flavour too!), so that's good enough for me :-) It's great knowing that even though pasta will never be a huge part of my diet, I now have a way to eat it that works equally well for me and the family, thank you Nomad Health!
The pasta costs from £3.99 to £4.50 per 250g bag. Yes, yes, not the cheapest but I think a small price to pay to have a bit of pasta back in your life and it tastes damn good!
I've only got one small niggle to be honest, I found the packs quite hard to open - and if that's the worst thing I can find, you know it's good stuff!
My finished Roasted Veg Pasta dish: