Do you or did you once love the slippery texture and mouth feel of angel hair pasta, ziti, or fettuccini? Do you miss the convenience of pasta and rice for dinner? Are you’re looking for something to serve red sauce, pesto, or a stir-fry over? Do you follow a grain-free, gluten-free, celiac, candida, low-calorie, or low-carb diet? Do you follow a ketogenic diet and seek something to soak up the extra fat you need to meet your energy needs? If any of the above applies, I have a recipe and a couple of cool products to tell you about and a recipe from the new cookbook I’m working on.
While some people stick their noses up at the idea of making renditions of things they used to eat on a Standard American Diet (SAD), Modern American Diet (MAD), or on ethnic diet, I don’t. I believe in making some healthier versions of familiar foods and dishes with upgraded ingredients. They don’t have to be absolute knock offs but they can have a look or flavor or elements that remind us of things we’ve enjoyed, often for years.
I think it’s only natural that certain foods have a nostalgic place in our hearts and minds and that when we change our diets––whether for weight loss, a fitness goal, or a health condition––we may at times miss certain foods, flavors, and textures. We might see people around us eating foods we used to eat or we may associate certain foods with a time of the year, a holiday, special occasion, or some other experience that we miss.
Photo credit: Rachel Albert© 2013
For me, noodles are something I grew up eating a lot of. From mac n’ cheese from the box and chicken noodle soup from the can to pasta with red sauce and meatballs and from Fettuccini Alfredo in restaurants to buttered noodles with parmesan at home, pasta was a part of my life. When I got into natural foods and macrobiotics, Japanese udon and soba noodles and Chinese wheat and rice noodles became regular features in my diet. They fell away when I got into the Zone Diet and then, the Paleo diet. Occasionally, even then I sometimes ate some of the gluten-free pasta I prepared for clients, cooking students or friends, until even that fell away.
Although I really enjoy spaghetti squash, zughetti (zucchini spaghetti made with a spiralizer that I blanch or sauté), there is something I really enjoy about the two noodle-y products I discovered several years ago and recently got back into using regularly: Miracle Noodles and No Oodles.
At first I thought they were just ok. Then I discovered the importance of “dry frying” to give them a firmer texture and better mouth-feel, and to allow the topping, sauce, or fat and seasonings to adhere. I also found that the shape made a huge difference. I found the angel hair versions of these zero calorie, zero net carb, and soy-free, gluten-free, all-natural, plant-based shirataki noodles just didn’t do much for me. The thick fettucini- and ziti shirataki noodles rocked my culinary world! Now I buy them buy the case (of six) and sometimes get two six-packs at a time!
By now you’re wondering what they’re made of. I can assure you that they’re not a fake food! They’re made from a Japanese vegetable known as Konjac root or Konnyaku Imo, which roughly translates into “elephant yam.” These are not the same as the yams most us are familiar with. These are not the same as soy-based shirataki noodles. This vegetable, rich in glucomannan, a healthy, naturally occurring water-soluble fiber, has anti-inflammatory, glucose- and insulin-modulating, hunger delaying, regularity inducing, prebiotic, and appetite-satisfying properties. They can be used to replace pasta and rice in your favorite dishes and recipes. They can fill you up without weighing you down.
I like the slippery feeling they have in my mouth, the way I can open a package, give it quick rinse, drain, dry, in a hot skillet, and have them ready in mere minutes! I like to use them as a vehicle for getting extra fat calories into my diet. (Kind of an odd problem to have, particularly since I was into low-fat eating for many years when I was younger!) They’d be great for car camping. Fast food without the typical fast-food effects!
I currently follow a ketogenic version of the paleo/whole foods diet I've been following, with varying degrees of strictness, for many years. I went lower-carb in fall of 2013, after listening to the Grain Brain audio book, and ketogenic in late December of the same year.
What you’ll find below is super easy recipe for lunch, dinner, or a snack. I’ve even used the recipe for a 48 hour water fast, when I got to a place in the day where I wanted to eat so badly and needed some energy (from MCT oils) but knew that all I couldn’t have and didn’t want carbs or protein. This recipe tasted so amazing to me with several sheets of seasoned sushi nori! I figure one package per person; two if you need that much or need more fat.
Remember the noodles are almost ready to eat but not quite! No cooking required but “dry frying” is the only way I’ll do them now that I know what a difference it makes. If you don’t like or haven’t liked these noodles, you probably didn’t follow the steps listed below. I’m telling ya…. (Oh, I think the ziti and fettuccini are way better than the angel hair, although I will eat those if that’s all I have. ;-)) I haven’t tried the rice version, yet!
Buttery Ketogenic Noodles
Prep: 5 to 10 minutes Cooking: 3 to 5 minutes Yield: 1 to 2 servings
This zero-cal, zero-carb pasta comes in various shapes (plain and thick ones, fettuccini and ziti, as well as thin angel hair) sizes and even flavors. You can buy them online or in same natural food stores in the refrigerator section––but you don’t actually need to refrigerate them until after you open the package. I always use a whole package at once! But if you make a big batch, you might have leftovers.
Notes: If you’ve tried these and haven’t liked them or if this is your first time, don’t skip the steps below! They make ALL the difference in flavor, texture, and mouth-feel!
If you plan to serve the noodles with pesto, red sauce, or meaty sauce, reduce or omit the oil, depending upon your fat and energy needs. I buy them by the case (6 packages) to economize (case discount apply at Whole Foods and some other natural grocers). If you serve them in a sauce, simmer them with the sauce for several minutes, if possible, to marry the flavors. I add a side of cooked or raw leafy green or mixed vegetables an, usually, a serving of fish, fowl or meat on or beside them, unless I’m fasting and have a zero carb, zero protein limit.
- 1 (7 ounce) package Miracle Noodles or No Oodles—fettuccini, ziti, or angel hair (about 4.5 ounces drained and dry fried)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons MCT oil, virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, pasture-raised butter, ghee, or combination of two of these
- Trader Joe’s Garlic Salt Blend (sundried sea salt, roasted garlic, onion, and parsley) or your own powdered blend or favor (garlic infused extra-virgin olive oil would be good!)
- Minced fresh or freez-dried chives, parsley, or basil for garnish
Here's how to get the best results:
- Open the package and dump into a colander and run under very cold water for at least a couple of minutes to rinse away seafood aroma (from the calcium or lime extract in the tetra pack).
- Using scissors, snip long noodles once or twice to create a shorter noodle that is easier to manage, if desired. This isn’t necessary for ziti or “rice” or if you like slurping long strands of noodles like a kid or wrapping then around a fork or chopsticks (I still like to play with my food!).
- Pat dry with a paper towel, if desired. "Dry fry" the noodles in a dry, heavy stainless steel or cast iron skillet (non-stick is supposed to works too), until all the excess water has evaporate, stirring periodically. When ready, they may squeak as you move them around with cooking chopsticks or a long wooden spoon. They are now ready to absorb the flavor of the fat or oil and seasonings (or whatever sauce you put on them).
- Add the fat or oil, garlic-sea salt seasoning or other seasoning blend, and stir.
- If you follow these instructions, you will get the best results, if you don't, you will have a watery, tasteless experience...refrigerate leftovers, do not freeze.
Coat the noodles lightly with oil, then with more Practically Paleo Pesto (from my Garden of Eating Cookbook or this link), paleo or very low-carb marinara with meatballs, Bolognese sauce, or whatever you like to serve with pasta. They could also be dry fried and added to chicken soup right before serving or to a casserole before briefly baking.
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