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Food and Nutrition

Grocery Spotlight: VLCD-Friendly Lentil Pastas

Stephanie Chen, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ February 19, 2021

I am very excited to share not one, but two pasta alternatives! Though we love Trader Joe’s, many VLCD veterans may know that its Red Lentil Sedanini is actually NOT approved for VLCD. It is low in fiber (only 2.2 grams for a 140 calorie, ~½ cup cooked serving) compared to cooked red lentils (9 grams fiber for the same 140 calorie ½ cup cooked serving). The fiber criteria for VLCD whole grains/legumes is 5 grams or more fiber per ~½ cup or 100-140 calorie serving. Usually chickpea and black bean pasta are good choices, as well as veggie “pastas” such as spiralized zucchini or hearts of palm “pasta” – though these would count as non-starchy veggies instead of healthy starch. And now, there are two lentil pastas from Target that meet the fiber criteria as well! 

Good and Gather Gluten Free Yellow Lentil Penne 

Yellow Lentil Penne Nutrition Facts

This is a great legume and ancient grain alternative, since the only ingredient is yellow lentil flour. I did the cooking and measuring so you don’t have to – the entire package yields about 5 cups cooked. A generous ¾ cup serving (measured after cooking) is 120 calories, 21 g total carbohydrate, 6.6 g fiber, and 7.8 g protein. Compared to regular pasta, the texture and taste are expectedly different. It’s chewier with a slight lentil taste, but that can easily be masked with a flavorful sauce. I tried this pasta with a meat sauce containing veggies (onions, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper), ground beef, tomato sauce, and herbs – it turned out pretty well and I hardly noticed the lentil taste! I followed the cooking instructions on the box – 6-8 minutes for an al dente pasta.

Good and Gather Gluten Free Red Lentil Rotini

Red Lentil Rotini Nutrition Facts

With a similar nutritional profile to the yellow lentil pasta, this red lentil rotini is another solid choice when it comes to complex carbs. For the same amount of calories, it is slightly lower in fiber and higher in protein. It tastes pretty much like the yellow lentil penne. The whole box yields the same 5 cups after cooking, so a VLCD serving is ¾ cup cooked pasta (120 calories, 20.4 g total carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 9 g protein). Though the rotini looks red right out of the box, it looks like regular pasta after cooking.

Serving Suggestion
Yellow lentil penne topped with a hearty sauce – the possibilities are endless!

A Note on Target

If you prefer, you can place an order through the app and select either to pick up your bagged groceries in the store, or have an associate deliver them to your car with no extra charge. This saves on time and is a bit safer than in-person shopping for now.

Let us know if you give either of these lentil pastas a try!

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