Welcome to the inaugural, “McDaniel’s Bite-Sized Reviews!”

It’s the first of a new weekly series we’re calling “McDaniel’s Bite-Sized Reviews!” Each Thursday, we’ll share a new product one of our Registered Dietitians (+ their family) tried, reviewed and rated. I think it’s fair to say, that yes, it can be overwhelming to take the time to evaluate the latest food or drink on the grocery store shelf. Is it giving you the nutritional bang for your buck that your family deserves?

So, in light of that challenge, the dietitians’ at McDaniel Nutrition will be reviewing a new food or product each Thursday. Our hope is that it can serve as an avenue to promote nutrient-dense foods that are easy to access, afford, and maybe…even be kid-approved.

If we can make grocery shopping 0.5% easier, we consider it a win.

FYI – these posts aren’t sponsored, and they are of our own tastebuds’ opinions.

First up: Banza Elbow Pasta Made From Chickpeas

Box of banza pasta, red box on a table

Why Did We Try?

When it comes to pasta, you’ve got choices. For example:

  • 2 oz. plain dry pasta: 210 calories, 1 gram fat, 42 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 7.4 grams of protein, 0 mg of sodium, and 2 grams sugars. 
  • 2 oz. whole-wheat pasta:  200 calories, 1 gram fat, 44 grams of carb, 5-6 grams of fiber, 7.5 grams of protein and 0 mg of sodium and 2 grams sugars. 
  • 2 oz. Banza chickpea pasta: 190 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 32 grams of carb, 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein and 60 mg of sodium and 5 grams sugars. 

 

Nutritionally speaking, the chickpea pasta had slightly more fat (none from saturated), more sodium and sugar, but it also had more fiber, protein and iron. As a mom and plant-based eater, I prioritize protein, fiber and iron for a few reasons:

One: If I’m serving plain pasta with marinara sauce, it’s helpful to know the Banza pasta doubles the amount of protein my family would get compared to serving them plain or whole-wheat pasta. Plus, it’s got a slightly more fiber that come from both soluble (3 grams) and insoluble (5 grams) of fiber that help support our family’s gut health.

Two: As a vegetarian, I strive to eat a variety of different types of protein in my diet. If I’m craving a plate full of pasta, one serving of this product gets me 1/2 way to my goal of 30 grams of protein per meal.

Three: It’s also a great source of iron. The iron content in whole-wheat pasta is 6% compared to 30% in Banza pasta. Pair this pasta with a vitamin C-rich tomato sauce, and you’ll boost your body’s ability to absorb the iron.

Banza Elbows Made From Chickpeas Food Label

nutrition facts panel of banza chickpea pasta

Where to Find & Cost

In the MidWest, you can find the product at Schnucks, Whole Foods, Target, Lucky’s or Fresh Thyme Market for around $2.99-$3.49 for an 8 oz. package. Check out their store-locator for your area. Compared to the price of $1.39 for a 16 oz. package of whole-wheat pasta, this bean-based pasta is more costly.  In a nutshell, you’re paying 2 times more for 1/2 the package size.

Worth the Bite? Our 5 Star Rating

Taste: 4.5/5 stars

The flavors resembled wheat pasta. If I was blind-f0lded, I don’t think I would have been able to tell them apart. The noodle texture did have less of a “chew” factor (I tend to like) compared to whole-wheat pasta. My husband had no clue it was bean-based.

Kid’s Approval: 4/5

Not one child complained about their pasta, but they also didn’t wolf it down. To be fair, there were some competitive foods (i.e. Parmesan cheese & chocolate milk) on their plate that they chose to eat/drink first.

Nutrient Density: 4.5/5

For 190 calories, you get a very well-rounded pasta, and it meets at least one of the micronutrients (iron) that kids often don’t get enough of. High praise for the protein, fiber and iron content. It did have slightly more sugar and sodium which brought it down to a 4.5 instead of 5.

Value: 2/5

It’s costly and 4 times more expensive compared to plain or whole-wheat pasta.

Overall Rating: 3.75 Stars

How Our Family Took a Bite: Artichoke, Mushroom & Spinach Banza Pasta

plate of banza chickpea pasta on a white plate with spinach, olives and hand of girl holding the plate

Without offering up a formal recipe, here is how we enjoyed our Banza Chickpea Pasta!

Ingredients:

  • 1, 8-oz. box Banza pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. green olives sliced in half
  • 6 c. baby spinach
  • 1 24-oz jar of marinara sauce

Directions:

In a saute pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add artichoke hearts and saute until warmed through. Add mushrooms and spinach until softened. Stir in sliced olives and marinara sauce. Combine until all ingredients are heated through.

*Optional toppings: red chili flakes and parmesan cheese.

Let us know if you give it a try, and what you think!

 

 

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.