Gluten-Free Pasta Marinara with Tofu and Basil

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A great meal that’s comforting too. Now, I know what you might be thinking…not carbs…they’re bad for you! Actually, when you eat a whole-food, plant-based diet you’ll eat more carbs than you’re probably used to eating. However, these carbs are what I refer to as the super carbs; they’re healthy and good for you–and, no, they won’t make you fat!

Complex carbohydrates are needed for better digestion. They help with elimination and they don’t spike your blood sugar levels as simple carbohydrates do…think white bread, pastries, donuts, cookies, and other processed foods made from white flour.

Complex carbs are high in fiber, water, and healthy nutrients unlike their inferior counterparts–simple carbs. When the “No Carb” craze started, people got confused… like throwing the baby out with the bath water!

Eating no simple carbs might not be such a bad idea but eating no carbs (complex carbohydrates) is not a healthy choice. When you eat a mostly plant-based meal, you’ll likely include some sort of grains such as quinoa, spelt, wild brown rice, or gluten-free pasta (like the dish shown here). That pasta is made from brown rice–serve it with a spicy marinara tofu sauce and a healthy colorful salad and you’ll feel FANTASTIC after dinner. You won’t feel heavy or weighted down. The complex carbs will digest slowly in your system and not give you a spike in sugar and then a crash like you get from simple carbs that breakdown in your system fast.

Mixed Green Colorful Salad

Gluten-Free Pasta Marinara with Tofu and Basil

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Salad Ingredients

  • mixed greens
  • some arugula
  • grape tomatoes
  • carrotsred (yellow, green bell pepper)
  • nuts: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts: finely chopped and lightly sprinkled on salad

Spicy Pasta Marinara with Tofu

  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or hemp oil
  • Red (yellow bell peppers chopped)
  • 1 box tofu — for health reasons tofu should be used the way it is in the country it originated. In other words (it’s not a main meal but just added as a condiment.)
  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta: I prefer the penne brown rice. The spaghetti doesn’t ever seem to come out like regular gluten pasta…the penne seems to hold its form and tastes almost like traditional pasta.
  • Fresh basil
  • Spices: black pepper (chili pepper, sea salt)


Salad Directions

  • Mix all together
  • Enjoy…I typically don’t use dressing; instead, I’ll add a dollop of hummus (roasted garlic)…it’s so good and creamy (but dairy-free!)

Pasta Marinara Directions

  • Cook the pasta according to directions on the bag. Do not over cook. Gluten-free pasta can get very mushy and then it’s awful!
  • In oil, saute the chopped garlic and bell peppers until somewhat tender.
  • Add in the firm tofu. I don’t really chop it but place sliced pieces in and then slightly mash it. It almost resembles crumbled cheese in the pan.
  • After a few minutes of sauteing, add the pasta sauces, let simmer together with pasta for about 15- 20 minutes.
  • Add spices: black pepper, chili pepper, sea salt.
  • Top with basil and serve immediately.


Gluten-free pasta can get very hard so eat it right away. It’s not the same as regular gluten pasta. If you have leftovers, be sure to heat the dish on the stove and add a little more pasta sauce–it’ll taste great–just don’t microwave it, especially if you haven’t added more sauce because it will be dry!
Author: Phoebe Chongchua




Phoebe Chongchua is a multimedia brand journalist who consults and writes on wellness, all things plant-based, fitness, lifestyle, and travel. She is yoga certified and earned her certificate in Whole Food Plant-Based Eating in 2010 through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She's also a top podcaster for her marketing/storytelling podcast, The Brand Journalism Advantage at

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