Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki NoodlesI grew up in a household that had pasta in some form or other for dinner at least four times per week. I love pasta but I now limit my consumption of it not just because it’s high in calories, but because most pasta is made from white, processed flour that is pretty worthless from a nutritional standpoint. But there’s nothing like a big, heaping plate of penne or linguine, is there?

Enter shirataki noodles. Though I didn’t know about them until about four days ago, they’ve been growing in popularity among the low carb and diet crowd for a couple of years now. They are a Japanese noodle made from the root of the Konjac plant, a kind of yam. They have no net carbs, no calories, no sugar, and no gluten.

The flour made from the root of the Konjac plant is called glucomannan. In clinical trials, glucomannan has been shown to help people lose weight by forming a gel in the stomach and helping a person maintain a sense of fullness. This is interesting given that chia seeds also form a gel in the stomach and keep a person full.

There are two types of shirataki noodles available: traditional shirataki noodles have 0 calories and tofu shirataki noodles, which have a little bit of tofu added for texture and taste, have 20 calories per serving. Most people seem to prefer the tofu variety.

Once I heard about them, I went on a quest to find them. In my search for the noodles, I made a happy discover in my city: a wonderful Japanese market that carries the traditional shirataki noodles without tofu. But I wanted to try both kinds so I checked out my local health food store and found the tofu shirataki noodles.

I’d read online that the key to making these work was rinsing them really well and then getting them as dry as you can. After experimenting with these noodles for two days, I can’t tell you enough how true that is. Get them as dry as you can. I rinse mine really well and then lay them out and blot them dry with paper towels. This extra effort is worth it, trust me.

So after trying both kinds of noodles, regular shirataki and tofu shirataki, I have to say that the tofu version wins the taste test hands down. The regular shirataki were way too rubbery for my taste, while the tofu version is less so. The regular noodles would probably be okay in a soup, though.

Besides getting them dry I’ve read that there are other tricks to making these as good as they can be. You can boil the noodles for three minutes to get a more pasta-like texture or you can marinate them. I haven’t tried either of those techniques yet.

So far I’ve made two dishes with them – vegan fettucine alfredo and vegan macaroni and cheese. I’ll post those recipes soon after I make a few adjustments to them.

If you can find tofu shirataki noodles near you they’re definitely worth a try. I believe you can also order them online if you can’t find them locally. You can’t beat 20 calories per serving. I’ll be posting more about the health benefits of these noodles as well.

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