Banza pasta2

A pasta with more protein than steak makes TIME’s ‘Inventions of the Year’ list

Towards the end of the year, TIME does an annual round-up of the best inventions making the world better, smarter and – in some cases – a little more fun. Two are food related…

Banza Chickpea Pasta

“WHEN people think of pasta, they almost always think, I ate way too much and now I feel like crap,” says Brian Rudolph.

Not so with his brand, which is made from chickpeas instead of wheat. That simple switch – in a recipe perfected over 10 months of trial and error – has yielded a healthy twist on the al dente dinner.

Banza, shorthand for garbanzo pasta, has double the protein and four times the fibre of traditional pasta, and far fewer carbs; it’s also gluten-free.

Chickpeas are naturally protein packed; half a cup of the little beans contain nearly 20 grams of the muscle builder. That’s equivalent to the amount of protein found in a 3.5 oz serving of eye round steak.

The chickpeas also add a hearty amount of fibre to the pasta, a nutrient that is shown to increase feelings of fullness (among a host of other benefits), meaning you’ll be able to eat a serving without immediately seeking a second helping.

And to those who may question how good it tastes, consider the sales. Banza launched in two US stores last year; now it’s in 1 700, including Fairway markets, where it was recently the top-­selling pasta of any kind.

Banza comes in a variety of shapes. Of it’s organoleptics, says The Huffington Post: “We tasted the chickpea noodles for ourselves, and while the flavour is not identical to pasta’s, it still makes the cut. The noodles are a bit chalkier than standard spaghetti – a little less slippery. But this is nothing that can’t be masked by your favourite sauce.”

Now Rudolph and his brother Scott plan to reinvent products like pizza and cereal.

“People want to eat better,” he says. “We see Banza as a true replacement, a more filling version of the food people love.” Banza Pasta

The sensor that sniffs out gluten

Gluten sensorFOR the millions of Americans with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating out is often anxiety-ridden – any menu item might contain traces of the protein, which is off-limits.

The Nima sensor, which starts shipping early next year, would work to put their minds at ease by allowing them to test any kind of food or drink in as little as two minutes.

After a sample is dropped into the well of the device, a proprietary antibody (loaded in a disposable cartridge) mines it for traces of gluten. If they exist, a frowning face lights up; if not, a smile appears.

“My hope is that people are going to be able to eat socially without accidentally getting sick,” says Shireen Yates, a 6SensorLabs co-founder who is gluten-sensitive. The firm also hopes to apply its technology to detect other food allergens, including peanuts and dairy. 

TIME: Read more about the top 25 inventions of 2015