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- Banza Instagram
- Banza noodles are pasta noodles made from chickpeas.
- They taste like the real deal but have 25g of protein, 13g of fiber, and 40% fewer net carbs than traditional pasta.
- I try to eat healthy when possible but am not committed enough to sacrifice taste. Banza noodles are so good, though, that they’re all I buy. I prefer them to whole wheat noodles.
- In four years, they’ve become Whole Food’s best-selling pasta and Target’s second best-selling pasta.
- You can find Banza at most stores: Jet, Walmart, Target, Thrive Market and Amazon for $3 per box.
Have you ever heard someone pose the question, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” and heard the quippy reply, “For pasta not to have any calories?”
Well, it doesn’t have zero calories yet, but healthy pasta alternatives have made the traditional indulgence much better for you. However, some of those healthy alternatives are undeniably better than others, and the general consensus is that Banza is the best.
Made out of chickpeas, Banza noodles have 25 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber, and 40% fewer net carbs than traditional pasta. And they taste like the real deal.
It sounds too good to be true, but Banza noodles let you eat something that feels undeniably indulgent – like a warm bowl of rigatoni – that is actually healthy.
Due to a general allegiance to meals that are somewhat “healthy-ish” but don’t require more than 15 minutes of prep time, I’ve been a whole wheat pasta-eater at least two to three nights a week for the past year. When a colleague mentioned Banza and how much she loved it, I bought a box fully expecting to be disappointed the same inevitable way that kids who stay up to catch their parents as Santa Claus are.
As Banza’s co-founder Brian Rudolph understands, “There’s something special about pasta – people love it on an emotional level” – and that opens the door for shoppers to either enthusiastically embrace an outsider such as Banza, or vehemently shun it.
But even though I’m not gluten-free, vegan, or anything close to a healthy-eating zealot willing to put up with soggy noodles, I can honestly say Banza is the only pasta I buy now. It’s nearly indistinguishable to traditional options, but you can eat almost twice as much for the same net carbs.
This seems to follow from how the founders conceptualize who the Banza pasta eater actually is. While it can appeal to a wide range of dietary needs – from those with gluten allergies to vegans seeking plant-based protein to diabetics looking for low glycemic options – it’s also fundamentally just a great option for “anyone who loves food and seeks a healthier lifestyle.” Banza is a solution for folks who are tired of eating healthy at the expense of foods they love – which even includes Mac & Cheese.
It’s probably not going to replace wheat noodles for you completely if you’re a hardcore pasta-lover, but it is nearly indistinguishable with a sauce on top.
Banza noodles don’t taste “healthy” to me; I actually far prefer them, based on taste alone, to whole wheat noodles.
In terms of cons, you can definitely overcook them (I usually aim for a minute under the recommended amount), and it’s a bit more expensive (a box is ~ $3), but the protein, fiber, and low-cal aspect justifies those inconveniences for me.
If you don’t trust my palette, it seems many more people are growing wise to the fact that Banza actually makes good on its near-mythical claims. Since launching in stores in 2014, Banza has been picked up by big-time national grocers like Whole Foods and Target, and since then became the #1 best-selling pasta at Whole Foods and the #2 pasta overall in Targets nationwide. The company is also featured in a partnership between Jet.com and CircleUp (an investment platform for small businesses) spotlighting startups poised for big future breakthroughs.
In other words, Banza has managed to do two things I didn’t have much faith in: make a healthy alternative to pasta that tastes good, and then also convince paying customers of that feat.
Rudolph readily admits, though, that it has not always been easy.
The company unwittingly began in his kitchen a year after graduating college as a personal project to make his favorite food healthier to eat, and he teamed up with his brother Scott after his homemade chickpea noodles got such enthusiastic fanfare from friends. But the two quickly learned that scaling Brian’s recipe from small-batch kitchen runs to large-scale production wasn’t easy – “I was 23 and had no experience in food.”
The process involved countless nights at the manufacturing facility before Banza got to the place it is now. And, perhaps because the founders are outsiders, that process of betterment and adaptation has never really left Banza. AsRudolph told Business Insider, “To this day, we’re laser-focused on taking customer feedback, and continually improving our product.”
Banza, short for garbanzo (another name for chickpea), has experienced pretty incredible success for a healthy food alternative to something as emotionally involved as pasta, but the Rudolphs say there’s a long way to go, and hint at future revolution to go-to meals.
“Our mission is to make nutritious food more accessible – by taking the foods people already love, and making them better. Our goal has always been to change pasta the way Chobani changed yogurt, and we have a long way to go for half of all pasta to be made from beans. Longer term, beyond pasta, we want to continue to reinvent other staple foods that people love to make them more nutritious.”
But even if they can’t make chocolate chip cookies that erase wrinkles, Banza has already made a delicious pasta with 2x the protein, 3x the fiber, and nearly half the carbs of traditional noodles. They’ve done their bit for the common good.
Whether you’re a vegan on a mission or the average person who loves food but wouldn’t mind a healthier lifestyle, Banza noodles should, in my opinion, absolutely be the next thing you try.