Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Zucchini and Shirataki Noodles: Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives! {Gluten Free + Vegetarian + Low Carb}

Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Noodles: Shirataki Noodles and Zucchini Spaghetti with Sundried Tomato Pesto
Gluten Free + Vegetarian + Low Carb

I've been interested in non-wheat based, low-carb alternatives to pasta for a while now, and I've hit on two options that I really like.

Shirataki Noodles: 
I can highly recommend the amazing Shirataki Noodle.  Shirtake Noodles boast the following characteristics:  
  • 0 net carbs
  • 0 calories
  • gluten-free
  • 0 fat
  • 0 sugar
  • 0 starch. 
These noodles cook super quickly and are great, especially, in Asian inspired dishes like Pad Thai and Curries, while also being amenable to traditional tomato sauces.  I strongly recommend these noodles to gluten-free and carb-conscious eaters.  I've found them for sale in the same section as tofu, vegan cheeses, and vegetarian deli-style meats.  The only downfall to these noodles is that they aren't as cheap as traditional pastas, nor as cheap as the next pasta substitute I'll discuss: zucchini noodles.

How Do I Cook Them?:
Cooking Shirataki Noodles is simple.  Open the package, dump them in a colander and rinse them thoroughly under water.  Be warned that they will smell funny--I promise they do not taste funny!  After rinsing, dump the noodles into boiling water for 2 minutes.  Remove, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.  Serve.

Beware the "fake" variety of the noodles made with tofu.  They're still pretty healthy and tasty, but they don't confer the same carb-benefits as the true Shirataki Noodles.

Zucchini Noodles: 
Another healthy gluten-free and lower-carb alternative to traditional grain-based pastas that I've tried out and really enjoy are zucchini noodles.  Zucchini noodles can be super time intensive to produce depending what kitchen tools you have handy.  But, given all of the right tools, you can whip them up pretty efficiently.  

When I first started making zucchini noodles I did everything with a knife--sliced the zucchini into length-wise strips with a kitchen knife and, then, into spaghetti-like strands with the knife.  This took FOREVER.  Seriously, my wrist would get kind of sore. 

Then, I invested in a mandoline slicer (this one, actually).  The mandoline slicer made the zucchini noodles a LOT easier to manage.  It cut the time for producing them down drastically and eradicated the wrist-cramping that I suffered when I only had my knife to help me out.  And, I have to say that it's come in super handy since for cutting super thin slices of cucumber, carrot, and onion for salads.

But, then, I got even more zucchini-noodle savvy and invested in a handheld spiralizer.  The spiralizer contains a series of blades that allows you to take a vegetable, for example a small zucchini, yellow squash, or even a carrot, and create uniform strands of noodles!  Many spiralizers out there are a bit fancier and, also, more expensive than the one I got.  But, mine is compact--good for my small kitchen--and was about $30 on Amazon.com.  

GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter

The bottom line is that zucchini noodles don't have to be a pain in the wrist to make, and depending on what produce goes for in your area, they're much cheaper than the Shirataki Noodles are.  You also don't have to cook them--at all!  

How Do I Cook Them?:
The short answer is--you don't!  

Merely place zucchini noodle strands in a colander and sprinkle on some salt and let them sit for about 20 minutes to tenderize them (gets ride of their crunchier raw texture by forcing out water).  Rinse the noodles thoroughly, squeeze excess water out of them, and pat them dry on paper towels.  

Serve with red sauce to make Italian style pasta, or serve with Pad-Thai peanut sauce (or whatever you want)!

I ate my zucchini noodles with sundried tomato pesto, fresh basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella.  YUM.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Pancakes

Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Pancakes:

I had precious little faith that pancakes made with, primarily, egg and banana would be very successful or tasty.  But, I was wrong.

The recipe floating around on pinterest utilizes 1 ripe banana, mashed, combined with 2 well-whisked eggs and an optional teaspoon of maple syrup.

I did a bit of modification by adding 1 tablespoon 0% plain Greek Yogurt, 2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour, and 1 tablespoon almond milk to the standard low-carb pancake mixture.

The result was very satisfying.  The pancakes are definitely more eggy in taste and texture than a "real" pancake and they are slightly harder to flip gracefully.  But, I found them easy enough to whip up--home made!--and found them a tasty, healthier substitute for traditional pancakes once I topped them with some maple syrup.  

I definitely recommend these simple, healthy pancakes in place of traditional pancakes that are heavy on carbs, high in calories, and non-GF.

Recipe: Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Pancakes

2 eggs, well beaten/whisked
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 tablespoon 0% plain Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup (plus more for eating)

  1. Beat eggs.  Add banana to eggs and smash well using a fork or other instrument making sure to combine the egg and mashed banana thoroughly.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a well oiled non-stick pan, cook about 1/4 cup of batter at a time making sure to gently release the edges of the pancake before flipping.  These pancakes are more delicate, so take care.
  4. Serve with maple syrup!