This Chickpea Pasta Will Be Your New Gluten-Free Obsession
Entrepreneur Brian Rudolph had two relatable motivations for creating Banza‘s chickpea pasta — he loved cooking pasta (in its most basic, delicious form), and he was on a continuous search for the healthiest way to eat. Instead of resigning himself to the idea that those two things could never truly coexist, in 2013 he went to work in his kitchen to figure out the best-tasting alternative to typical wheat noodles.
Banza is now carried by more than 4,000 American retailers. This month, it hit Target stores, making the products available in all 50 states for the first time. Banza’s chickpea pasta comes in five shapes, and the company recently launched a range of boxed dinner options for nights when you don’t have time for your craziest mac and cheese recipes. Although Banza may particularly appeal to people with restricted diets, it’s more than just pasta for people who can’t eat traditional pasta.
“We’re a company that focuses on positive nutrition,” says Banza’s Head of Communications Cathryn Woodruff. “Our pasta is gluten-free, soy-free and vegan, but we don’t look at what we do as ‘for you’ or ‘not for you’ based on your health concerns. We focus on what we do have, which is great taste and good nutrition that everyone needs.”
Banza’s goal is to get more than half of Americans to start eating chickpea pasta, regardless of dietary restrictions. “We imagine a world where it’s not divided between pasta and pasta alternatives,” Cathryn explains. “Everyone’s walking down the same aisle, and there’s just pasta and better pasta.”
And how does Banza plan to spread the word that chickpea pasta is better? With modern packaging, universally beneficial ingredients and a great taste that helps people forget they’ve swapped an old standard for something a little healthier.
“Our mission is to make the foods that people love better by using more nutritious ingredients,” Cathryn shares. “People love pasta. People don’t want to give up pasta, but they want to eat better. We took a comfort food that everyone loves, took out the bad stuff, added in some great stuff and now you have a sneaky healthy meal.”
Keep reading to find out a few more reasons why Banza’s chickpea pasta is going to be your new “sneaky healthy” favorite.
1. Chickpeas are associated with longevity. Along with peas, lentils and other beans, chickpeas are among the most consumed foods in the areas of the world called Blue Zones, where lifespans are longer than average. Populations in these areas — which include regions of Japan, Italy and Costa Rica — eat high-protein, high-fiber chickpeas as a cornerstone of their diet.
2. Beans are chock-full of nutrition, including protein and good carbs. Cathryn says that many of Banza’s early fans are fitness buffs who need their food to really pack a punch. “They’re looking for protein and energy,” she says. Chickpea pasta offers enough substance to keep active bodies going strong while minimizing unwanted add-ons, such as extra carbohydrates. Banza has nearly half the net carbs of traditional pasta.
3. You won’t be hungry later. Thanks to the additional protein and fiber from the beans, chickpea pasta is more filling than the wheat kind. Banza also has a low glycemic index, which means it will be kinder to your blood sugar, preventing a post-meal crash.
4. It’s an alternative to traditional pasta that doesn’t require extra time or energy. Spiralizing comfort foods (like pasta-based dishes) offers a healthy way to consume old favorites that’s more inclusive of people with restricted diets, but it can also be time- and labor-intensive. With Banza, Cathryn says,”You’re getting a nutritious meal that you can feel better about, but you don’t have to go out of your way to get it. It’s in your pantry, in a box, just like pasta is.”
5. The best part: It TASTES really good! While it’s easy for people to be impressed by the nutritional value of Banza, Cathryn emphasizes that in today’s crowded food space, taste needs to stand on its own. The Banza team has spent the last few months running grocery-store demonstrations to spread the word about their product. “We’ll cook it for people, and they are generally excited about it. But someone who is skeptical will try it with some tomato sauce on it, and they’ll realize it tastes just like pasta,” Cathryn says. “This is the food you can bring to a dinner party and know that everyone is going to like, whether they have a dietary restriction or not.”
Show us your best chickpea pasta dishes by tagging us on Instagram!
(Photos via Banza)
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.