HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

What works as faux pasta?

  • t

What's a diabetic pasta lover to do? I'll settle for a really good vehicle for good sauce, but I can't do spaghetti squash every night.

I've heard of using bean sprouts, but aren't they a tad on the crunchy side?

I've heard about sliced boiled cabbage, but won't that stink up the house?

Zucchini? Similar to squash, I guess.

Other ideas? ... Can cauliflower be made to work? Are any of the low-carb pastas low-carb enough and not-so-horrible enough to be worth it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Buckwheat pasta noodles? They make them in Italy and for diabetics buckwheat is supposed to be good from what I read. Similar to japanese soba, but an authentic italian article.

    2 Replies
    1. re: summertime

      Also, farro pasta - not easy to find, but also is supposed to be better for diabetics. Also genuine italian, not a "zucchini pasta" substitute.

      1. re: summertime

        The Japanese make very low-carb and low-calorie noodles out of yam flour called konnyaku and shirataki.I don't care for the konnyaku noodles; they are rubbery. If you can track down some "tofu shirataki" you might try those. (I get them at my local Mitsuwa market, in the refrigerator case next to the tofu.) I don't know why but they have a more pleasant texture and don't have a sort of weird taste that the other ones have. You should freshen them up by rinsing, parboiling and rinsing again.

        I don't use these noodles in Italian preparations because I can eat pasta, but I use them in traditional Asian recipes like soup and stir-fries or with rice sprinkles. Some people like them in Italian preparations though.

    2. The only low-carb pasta I have found worth eating is Dreamfield's. The jury is out on it, some people have found immediate blood sugar spikes and others not, each has to test for themselves. It does not bother me. It is full of gums and thickeners and will never get really soft. Truly al dente all of the time even after being in a salad or where other pastas get flabby.

      1. Eat real pasta and take insulin. It works wonders.

        Liz
        IDDM for 35 years

        7 Replies
        1. re: Liz

          Not all of us are insulin dependant diabetics. Some of us are able to control our disease with careful diet and oral meds. Of course if you are type 1, you have no choice, and I would eat and adjust meds. For a type 2, it's a different story, and insulin dependance is not what you want. Having said that, regular pasta, eaten in a normal portion size, should have no detrimental effects if you are under reasonable control (and don't have a sensitivity to it). If you, like me, have issues with determining a normal portion size, get out the measuring cup. A normal serving is about 1 cup of cooked noodles. I just do the opposite of what normal people do - I put the sauce on the bottom and use the pasta as a topping :-) Makes me feel like I am getting more.

          There is a japanese noodle that is made from squash that is low carb and all that - but I can't recall the name of it. Maybe someone knows?

          1. re: Cyndy
            t
            TheFraggleGourmet

            Thanks, Liz. I was going to let that lie, but you said what I would have said on the insulin topic. I am Type 2, and on top of that I know a Type 1 (adult onset, oddly enough) who takes insulin and then eats huge bowls of Cocoa Pebbles. Somehow that seems wrong.

            And the part that I left out was that I have been doing quite well sugar-wise (6.0 or slightly less on the hemoglobin scale) with a diet way too rich in pastas but that I've recently gotten the urge to dramatically increase my vegetable intake and I've been quite happy eating spaghetti squash, cauliflower, beets and eggplant in various recipes for my dinner entree.

            I like what all that is doing for my waistline, and I just wanted to add some variety to my yen for tomato sauce plus [blank] for dinner. I probably shouldn't have bothered asking about low-carb noodles, as those would have caloric impact similar to that of regular pasta.

            1. re: Cyndy
              t
              TheFraggleGourmet

              Thanks, Cyndy, I meant, of course. Thanks, Liz, too, though -- all input is welcome :-).

              1. re: TheFraggleGourmet

                FraggleGourmet and Cyndy,

                I wrote what I did because I find too many diabetics (and yes, type 2s are in the vast majority) settle with the idea that they can control their disease by taking oral meds and essentially eliminating carbohydrates from their diet. I don't think this is healthy or wise. It is reverting to the starvation diet used for type 1s in the 1920s before insulin was discovered.

                If your medication is appropriate you should be able to eat a normal diet and keep your blood sugar where you want it to be most of the time.

                FraggleGourmet's original post suggested that this wasn't the case, hence my suggestion that his medication might not be appropriate.

                Now that I know he posted because he wants to increase his intake of vegetables, I will suggest the usuals, such as grated zucchini, baked eggplant slices, chicken tenders, veal scallopini, roasted porcini mushrooms, and the like.

                Liz
                Reminder: I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV.

                1. re: Liz

                  Liz, you are completely wrong on the science. You should do some research on the ketogenic diet. I suggest reading the books "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living" by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, and the "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution" book. To put gasoline (carbs) on the flame of diabetes is completely illogical. Yes, MANY people with type 2 DM can put their diabetes into remission, come off their cholesterol lowering and blood pressure drugs, lose weight, and decrease their inflammation. You have absolutely no science that a properly formulated high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet is in any way harmful or unsafe. Do your research. Starvation and nutritional ketosis are two completely different states.

                  1. re: jerrgreen

                    You are arguing with people that posted 9 yrs ago. They are not even current members. Notice that their names are not bolded blue? Lol

                  2. re: Liz

                    I think the goal is not have to take so many medications.

            2. Let's get back to the cabbage as a pasta substitute. If you slice the large leaves in 1/2" wide strips and saute the cabbage in olive oil with some garlic, you could create a faux pasta meal. Saute the cabbage until it is limp and some of it starts to caramelize. Then add the tomato condiment.

              If your tomato condiment does not contain any other ingredients, then saute sliced onion and chopped green bell peppers with the cabbage.

              We've never had sauteed cabbage stink up the house. But we've never had to use a substitute for pasta either.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ChiliDude

                I should note here a favorite tweak of a classic Marcella Hazan recipe: Her recipe is for smothered cabbage in the Venetian style. I found the leftovers blend magnificently with linguine fini. So you can use a small portion of linguine fini (1-2 oz dry) and amplify with as much cavolo sofegao as you like!

                Finely shred a couple of pounds of green or white or savoy cabbage. In a heavy pot (with a cover), saute a finely chopped onion over medium heat in a quarter cup of olive oil until the onion starts to color, then add a clove or two of chopped/minced garlic. Then add the cabbage and toss around. When it's good and coated, add salt and black pepper and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Mix well, and turn the heat down to low and cover. Stir occasionally over the next 90 minutes, and add a tablespoon or two of water if it gets too dry.

                Leftover, it marries fabulously with thin linguine and either a garlic/oil sauce or butter/parmesan sauce.

                1. re: ChiliDude

                  Steaming shredded cabbage till just tender will not make the house smell. Cabbage has an undeserved bad reputation because people overcook it and THAT"S when it stinks.

                2. The trick with zucchini is to slice it on the thin julienne blade on a mandoline-- we use our $25 japanese v slicer-- and to cook it until only barely tender in a blazing hot saute pan large enough to toss the zucchini in constantly. You only toss the zucchini long enough for it to start to bend a little easier in the heat, no more than 5 minutes, but depending on how hot your stove gets. If it's started to turn transclucent, you've overdone it. It's really only good with red sauces, but we eat zucchini with sausages and vodka sauce several times a month. It's also good with puttanesca.

                  You can also saute thinly sliced onions with the zucchini for a bit of textural and flavor contrast.

                  We find spaghetti squash to be pretty dull, except in a carbonara-esque fashion-- bake the squash, cook 1/3 lb. bacon in a saute pan with chopped onion until the onion caramelizes and the bacon is crispy. Add the pulled apart squash to the saute pan, toss, add salt (as needed) and black pepper, and then serve with a generous grating of a strong-flavored goat, sheep, or cow's milk cheese. We like parmesan, manchego, or grana padano.

                  Thinly sliced savoy cabbage is good as a noodle substitute in pad thai-- just add it the last 5 minutes, with the chicken/shrimp, and it does not stink up the house. It's the boiling, not the sauteeing, that releases the sulfur compounds. I've never tried to use cabbage in italian dishes.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: emdb

                    I second the zucchini prep. I fortunately can eat regular pasta, but love zucchini prepared this way. I have also seen carrot and asparagus "ribbons" as a pasta substitute.

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      Julienned zucchini works extremely well -- you're right. It has the perfect sorta-slimy pasta consistency.