Even though I'm nuts for noodles.
There are few things more gastronomically enticing to me than a bowl of pasta. Rigatoni. Penne. Linguine. Oh my. Noodles of any kind, in fact, are my personal catnip.
That said, I rarely eat pasta these days. Oh, I might filch a forkful from my husband’s Rigatoni Ala Olio, but that’s about the extent of it. And here’s the reason why: I simply cannot exercise portion control, nor can I stop at one serving. I. Simply. Cannot.
Consider this: A “normal” serving of pasta is around two ounces. Two friggin’ ounces! What is that? Like six strands of spaghetti?
A few years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight. I had the post-menopausal paunch. Shedding those pounds took a lot of work, but I did it. In the process, I realized that, when I really, really like something, I throw all caution to the winds and can eat until I’m ready to bust. Literally. Just one example of my addictive personality.
A sensible, low carb diet seems to work for me. Lots of veggies, chicken, fish, legumes, once in a while — and some red wine to wash it all down.
Hopefully, I will convert to a vegetarian diet, sometime soon. That is my goal. Meanwhile, I have found a way to have my pasta and eat it, too: Shirataki noodles.
If you’ve never heard of these slippery goodies made from konjac yam, a type of Japanese root, or potato, I promise you, they’re worth looking into.
Often called “miracle noodles,” Shirataki noodles are high in glucomannan, a type of fiber that fills you up for minimal calories.
Shirataki noodles are composed of 97% water and 3% glucomannan and contain no digestible fats and practically zero carbs!
There is another, very similar type of Shirataki noodles made from tofu. Truthfully, there is no discernible difference in taste between the two varieties, but the tofu noodles contain a few additional calories and a very small number of digestible carbs.
Because I am a breast cancer survivor, I prefer to steer clear of soy, so the konjac yam variety of Shirataki is my go-to, faux pasta of choice.
I admit: It takes some getting used to their texture, as they are normally packaged in a slightly fishy-smelling liquid, which is actually plain water that has absorbed the odor of the konjac root.
You can find a variety of ways to prep them for mealtime online. Pinterest, especially, overfloweth with tips and recipes, but this is what works for me: I empty the package of Shirataki noodles into a colander and rinse them well. After they’re well drained, I dump them into a paper-towel-lined bowl and wrap the towels around the noodles, pressing them into the top, as well. Finally, I give them a two-minute nuking in the microwave and they’re perfectly dry and ready to go.
You can use Shirataki noodles as you would any pasta or noodle. Italian. Asian. Stir-fries. You’re limited only by your imagination. And here’s the cool thing: They’re available in pasta-like shapes like fettuccine and angel hair spaghetti.
More good news: You can find these babies in your local Asian market or on Amazon.com, which is where I normally buy mine, as they offer a wide variety. Also called Skinny Noodles, these babies are reasonably priced. Especially the multi-packs.
Again, you can use these noodles in virtually any recipe calling for pasta. When I’m feeling lazy, I like to just prep them, toss them in a bowl with some garlic powder and olive oil and a can of tuna dumped on top. Of course, you can be a hell of a lot more creative than that.
I’ll always love pasta. That will never change. But I feel good knowing there’s a “close” alternative that lets me eat as much of it as I want.
Enjoy. And feel free to slurp. I do.
© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.