Explore Cuisine is a Thailand-based company that makes high-protein pastas from legumes and other nutritious ingredients, like Spirulina. I bought three varieties at the Grocery Outlet ($2.99 for an 8 oz. box) and tried them out over the last month. These pastas are popular on Amazon but the price is actually lower when buying them directly from Explore Cuisine (around $4 per 8 oz. box, sold as 6-packs, or $15 for large 2 lb. boxes that reduce packaging). This is another example of why you should not trust Amazon and choose whenever possible to buy products directly from manufacturers rather than supporting Bezos’s empire.
Anyway, back to the Explore Cuisine pastas that I bought. Here are the three varieties that I’ve tried so far:
- Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine
- Organic Edamame & Spirulina Spaghetti
- Organic Chickpea Fusilli
I tried them in various scenarios – very simply with garlic and olive oil, with various veggies, and with good old tomato sauce. I was actually blown away by how good these veggie pastas tasted. I was expecting there to be textural issues, or even for the pasta to fall apart on my fork, but I loved the texture. The pasta had a nice bite and even a slightly meaty texture, probably from the abundance of fiber and protein, and I really enjoyed eating them.
The fettuccine was my favorite so far but they were all good and I look forward to trying them all. They all have slightly different cooking times, so pay attention to the directions.
One of the best things about these pastas is that they are so nutritious that you don’t need to add a lot to them to make a satisfying meal. I also like regular wheat pasta and the Blue Evolution seaweed pasta that I featured here a few months ago, so I’m not choosing to eat the Explore Cuisine pastas because I’m avoiding gluten, or carbs. I’ll eat them because they provide tons of protein, fiber and other nutrients, and because they are a sustainable choice. I’ll get to the sustainability part later – first here’s some info on ingredients and nutrition.
Explore Cuisine pasta – ingredients and nutrition.
Here are the ingredients for the three varieties of Explore Cuisine pasta that I tried:
Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine – Ingredients: Organic edamame bean flour (green soybeans), organic mung bean flour.
Organic Edamame & Spirulina Spaghetti – Ingredients: Organic edamame bean flour (green soybeans), organic spirulina powder.
Organic Chickpea Fusilli – Ingredients: Organic chickpea flour, organic brown rice flour, organic tapioca starch, organic pea protein powder.
As you can see, the ingredients could hardly be simpler. For the first two, the ingredients are literally just the two items in the name of the pasta. It’s impressive that they were able to generate such robust pastas from just these minimal ingredients.
Many people think of pasta as carbs but good quality wheat pasta is actually a decent source of protein (typically 7 g per serving) and fiber (3 g per serving). But these pastas are in a league of their own – the fettucine and spaghetti supply around 50% of the recommended daily intake of protein, fiber, and iron. For vegetarians and vegans, it’s great to be able to get 24 g of protein and a good amount of iron in one serving of pasta.
Explore Cuisine – company profile
Explore Cuisine seems to be a Thailand-based company that’s now the main brand of a corporation called Ethical Brands, Inc., with Gregor Forbes as managing director. Ethical Brands is a new enterprise – Explore Cuisine is the main focus for now but the company also brought Swedish pea protein milk brand Sproud to the U.S. in 2020. Explore Cuisine products are sold in several countries, including the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Explore Cuisine supports farmers in one of the poorest regions of Thailand, with 2% of revenue going to the Food to Thrive Foundation to educate and empower farmers. Here’s a video about the Food to Thrive foundation:
Ultimately, Explore Cuisine products excite me because they bring together two things that rank high for sustainability: dried pasta and legumes. I’ll explain more in the ethical evaluation, coming up right now!
Ethical rating for Explore Cuisine pasta
Here’s a summary of how I feel about the social and environmental impact of Explore Cuisine pasta, which I’m happy to give an almost perfect score of 4.5 Green Stars:
- A vegan product that delivers lots of protein, providing a convenient alternative to meat-based dishes.
- Organic ingredients
- As far as processed food goes, pasta is one of the most sustainable options that you can find. It’s a shelf-stable, nutrient-dense product that’s lightweight because it contains very little water (it absorbs the water that you provide during cooking) and can be packaged in a basic cardboard box.
- Similarly, legumes are among the most sustainable protein-rich foods. Legume plants help to regenerate the soil and since they fix their own nitrogen, there’s no need for nitrogen fertilizer.
- 2% of Explore Cuisine revenue goes to the Food to Thrive Foundation, supporting farmers in one of Thailand’s poorest provinces. Food to Thrive helps support the transition from conventional to organic farming and helps farmers with seeds and equipment.
- Explore Cuisine (and Ethical Brands) needs to provide more company information as it grows.
- Packaging is cardboard but doesn’t state if recycled or FSC-certified. Some varieties are packed in an inner bag.
Summary scores (out of 5) for Explore Cuisine pastas:
- 5 gold stars for quality and value
- 4.5 green stars for social and environmental impact
If you have a different opinion, please share your rating! Until next time, stay safe : )