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low carb pasta "substitute"

I love cooked sliced mushrooms but also am in the mood for a nice bowl of shrimp alfredo. I was thinking that sauteed mushrooms might be a nice substitute for the penne that I usually serve with alfredo. I thought it would add another texture rather than just eating shrimp with sauce on top. Just wondering if anyone else has ever done this? FYI not a fan of spaghetti squash or shredded zucchini so those aren't really good options for me.

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  1. I've low carbed a lot of years and corresponded about it with others. Depending upon what kind of dish you're making, pasta subs come in the form of cooked string beans, skinny noodle shaped slices of eggplant, drained then sauteed (GREAT with cream sauce), dried tofu noodles from an Asian grocery, or a small serving of Carba Nada noodles (not low carb, but low impact, doesn't budge my glucose meter). The eggplant noodles I make are from this Alton Brown recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al... The dried tofu noodles are almost no carbs and are probably closest to real noodles... you can buy them in sheets, too, and cut to any shape.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mcf

      Love the vegetable suggestions. I recently made a ragu with pork and bacon, and instead of pasta, added chiffonaded Swiss chard in the last few minutes of cooking. It was great!

    2. I really like the tofu shirataki noodles for things like this (not the regular shirataki).

      I also use the dreamfields pasta once in a while, carb nada once in a while, or the light whole wheat kind in the package that looks like the carb nada package (forget the name of it, but significantly lower carb pasta). I choose depending on how low carb I need or want to be on that day. Sometimes a single cup of X is not worth agonizing over unless you are diabetic or allergic.

      Oh...sometimes a bit of soba noodles hit the spot too...very filling and you don''t need much, they can take alot of sauce and still hold up, only 20 carbs for a decent amount.

      11 Replies
      1. re: sedimental

        Except for the shirataki, all of those are high carb, though some are not as fully digested as others.
        Dreamfields causes a very late and very long glucose spike for many folks, Carba Nada doesn't for me, but might for others. Gotta test if you can.

        1. re: mcf

          I guess mushrooms it is. I think the bite will be a good pasta substitute.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            You might surprise yourself by liking the eggplant ones... they're a bit meaty, too. And if you can get to an Asian grocery, the dried tofu ones are very much like regular starch noodles, except you don't boil them.... If you've ever had the noodles Hunan restaurants serve with peanut sauce, that's what it's like, not rubbery like shirataki.

          2. re: mcf

            The OP didn't say they were diabetic, so I assumed they were not. Everything I suggested all are lower carb substitutes for regular pasta -or about 1/2 the carb counts in regular pasta. I keep my carbs to between 50 and 100 per day depending on my work out schedule.

            Remember that not everyone that eats low carb all or most of the time is diabetic. In fact, probably MOST people eating the popular paleo or primal diets these days are NOT diabetic -but consider themselves low carb eaters due to generally not eating grains. Many are body builders and athletes. Low carb is usually defined as 20 percent or less of your total calorie intake in a day (not in a meal). All of the pasta's I suggested can fall well within those guidelines -but may not be the best for a diabetic.

            1. re: sedimental

              I am not diabetic, but as sedimental correctly assumed I am very into strength training and follow the paleo/primal diet.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Then you were asking for non grain alternatives entirely, then?

                1. re: mcf

                  yea, perhaps should have specified although I do many veggies as the carb contribution often includes a large proportion of fiber.

              2. re: sedimental

                The carb counts on the packages of some of those products are identical to the carb counts on regular pastas. The claim they make is that the carbs are not all digested. The OP asked for "low carb." I only mentioned DM because that's how I know that Dreamfield's is often fully digested, albeit at a crawl that raises blood sugar for many hours. Most folks asking for low carb are typically trying to avoid such events, even if not DM; I know I was, years back.

                1. re: mcf

                  Yes, I understand. The term "low carb" covers alot of territory these days. I eat primal about 80 to 90 percent of the time. Many primal eaters like Buckwheat (for a variety of reasons) that is why I mentioned it.

                  Also, in regard to blood sugar- I don't think you would be always be correct to assume that "...Most folks asking for low carb are typically trying to avoid such events, even if not DM". There are many different reasons that people adopt the paleo/primal diet and it is not to avoid blood sugar spikes. That can be beneficial -but is also certainly NOT the main concern, especially for "carb cycler's".

                  1. re: sedimental

                    I wasn't referring to bg "spikes." An awful lot of folks eat that way for fitness and/or body building. They also want to minimize insulin spikes, which keep blood glucose down. I'm pretty sure I didn't say everyone has this in mind, but I've been on forums discussing these plans for many years, and that's usually part of or most of the picture, when it isn't the entire goal.

          3. I often use a white canned bean, like butterbeans or cannellini beans, as a pasta sub - I know they contain some carbs but are more nutritionally 'useful' than pasta, so to speak. Could that work? I'm not a low-carber so this is from more of a 'how can I make this pasta dish more nutritious' perspective...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Elster

              Delicious, but not low carb... I used to love them as a snack. Low carbing by it's very nature increases dietary nutrient density, so adding beans for nutrient value when they're high carb isn't really a plus for someone eating low carb.

              Cannellini are actually higher in carbs and lower in fiber than other beans.

            2. I did try the mushrooms although I forgot to account for the shrinkage factor and so next time will use more. It was very tasty but then again I love mushrooms. I have tried the tofu shirataki noodles but for some reason I just can't seem to eliminate the slimy texture.

              3 Replies
              1. re: fldhkybnva

                I hate shirataki noodles. I like dried tofu noodles; you don't boil them, just saute them in your sauce or add to your broth.

                1. re: mcf

                  Do you think it would work in an alfredo or marinara sauce dish?

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Sure, just don't boil them, saute them in the sauce or warm them in some butter or oil then add the sauce. They're closest to the Chinese egg noodles that come with sesame or peanut sauce. Dryer, firmer, no slime or fishy smell, no rubberband texture.

              2. Are tofu shirataki noodles the same as dried tofu noodles?

                I've never noticed these and might like to try them?

                Are they refrigerated? In a bag, box, or can?

                And, most importantly, just how low carb are they? Fresh tofu is pretty high, as I recall...

                7 Replies
                1. re: Enso

                  No, they're not the same. They're "dried" tofu noodles or even sheets you can cut into shapes. They're in the refrigerator case in Asian groceries, not in liquid and you don't boil them, just saute or add to hot sauce or dishes. They're extremely low carb/high fiber. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2232/2...

                  1. re: mcf

                    Do you have nutritional info for the tofu noodles?

                    1. re: seamunky

                      I don't have a package to reference, but if you scroll down to "tofu skin" this wiki has nutrient data: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu#Chi...

                      Here's some cooking info: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                      1. re: mcf

                        Success - I was finally able to find both tofu sheet and tofu shreds at H Mart. Do you think these would be good in an alfredo sauce or more suited to Asian style stir frys?

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          You'll have to experiment. Also, maybe read up on some low carb web sites to see how to use them with various sauces. I used the noodles and just sauteed them and added them to sauce, but there might be times you want to moisten them first or something, like for alfredo, though warming them in the sauce as you make it, as in table side service might work. I think they work with all sorts of prep but you have to adjust technique.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Thanks. How would you describe the texture vs regular pasta? I'll soon find out but just want to have some idea beforehand.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Hmm... a bit more toothy, but not rubber like shiritaki and not gritty like soy pastas... the noodles are close to Chinese egg noodles in texture. A tiny bit of graininess, I think. No serious off tastes, and since you don't boil them, you can kind of soak them with the flavors of what you cook them with.

                2. A sub I have used is French cut green beans. I developed a lasagna type dish using the beans in place of pasta. It is best for the winter, when fresh veggies become so blah.

                  If you can have some carb, you can locate a good low carb bread, and use one piece toasted as a carb sub. I don't like spaghetti squash as a carb sub either.

                  You can also try to spoon saucy dishes over shredded Romaine.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: sueatmo

                    Does anyone know where I can buy dried tofu shredded noodles in NYC? Today I went to Whole Foods and both Asian markets on 3rd Ave in the Village and NOBODY knew what I was asking for. Even took the above pic with me and was met with blank stares. All they could refer me to were the ubiquitous packages of slimy, foul-smelling shirataki noodles. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

                    1. re: workintheater

                      You should post this question on the NYC boards, maybe a China town food shopping thread already exists? More folks read that than this, I'd guess. I just noticed that the label on the lower package in the pic seems to indicate that it's made in LIC... if you can blow that up and call them, they can tell you who buys it from them. I'm able to get it on Long Island, you *must* be able to get it in NYC!

                      1. re: mcf

                        just wanted to offer my tasty ideas to the mix:
                        I love to use low carb wraps cut up into strips mimicing lasagna noodles, then alternate fresh finely chopped basil, italian parsley, grated cheese, part skim ricotti, and whatever tomatoe sauce base you desire....add all the ingredients to a lasagna pan and bake @350 degrees till warmed all the way through, or crispy on top if you desire it that way. Everyone gobbled it when served as part of our holiday meal. The wraps absorb all the liquid and fluff up like a noodle and absorb all the taste of the meal.so yummy!

                        Just wanted to add my two cents re the Dreamfields low carb pasta, not sure if anyone is aware but if not served al'dente the pasta is NO longer a low carb pasta.....there are plenty of articles on google to back this up...

                        1. re: BEACHAHOLIC

                          Dreamfield's isn't low carb no matter how al dente it is; it has the exact number of carb grams as any semolina pasta.

                          I always cooked it very chewy, crunchy almost at just over half the time the box says to cook it. It's got all the carbs, and a fiber component added to slow down digestion. The problem is that they only tested the glucose rise at two hours, and the fiber blend makes it happen later and longer, so it's more damaging than regular semolina pasta. Hours after eating.

                          I know some folks who get a higher spike from Dreamfields than from regular pasta.

                          1. re: mcf

                            It's my understanding that this is not an issue in Italy, but rather the way we process our pasta here in the states...It's a shame

                            1. re: BEACHAHOLIC

                              Carbs, especially from wheat, are an issue everywhere, and I'm pretty sure Italy has a big diabetes problem, too.

                          2. re: BEACHAHOLIC

                            The pasta problem is hard for low carbers. I really don't know of a realistic sub for pasta. I do like you use low carb wraps though. I wonder if you are preparing food for yourself, 2, more? How many wraps per serving? And, wouldn't the tomato sauce add extra carbs into the dish?

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              sueatmo i am able to cut 1 wrap and use it as a portion(about 3layers-2/12"piece).....depending on the wrap used, your getting 6 to 7 carbs from the wrap..and the tomato sauce is minimal....if using fresh it's 1 oz =1 carb...so when on my plan it's truly minimal. i have 30gr/carbs with 14+gr/protein per meal, so i'm usually getting the rest of the carbs from fruit, seeds and nuts in a side salad.
                              hope that helps ;)

                              1. re: BEACHAHOLIC

                                The thing about tomato sauce and tomatoes is that for some reason, they spike blood glucose levels out of proportion to their carb content. Like wheat, tomato products are just very spikey. Ricotta has signficant carbs, too, and it's the meal's total that counts. I know a lot of low carbers use LC wraps as a lasagna sub. I use Barilla no boil noodles, make two, not three noodle layers, and add a good deal of browned sausage to the cheese mixture, which is most of the dish. Barilla no boil noodles are very thin and tender, but I still peel off at least one layer when eating and leave it on the plate.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  i do agree that tomatoes can be spikey, however thru many years, i have come to learn from my patients that every person is unique when it comes to what triggers their blood sugar spikes. i have also found that portion control and protein balancing is often to blame. often patients can have a 'trigger"food and will not experience that same surge after having had the proper protein/carb ratio, coupled with being mindful of their true portion size...even if that means utilizing a food scale. i am not certain of the ricotta cheese brand that i picked up, but it was part skim and was low in carbs...and was a name brand. i do not use jarred sauce or anything with sugar added, and i usually add ground pork, turkey, lean chop meat, sausage, shredded low fat mozz, and grated cheese.....plenty of herbs, like parsley and basil add to the flavor...and i am always well under my 30carbs for the meal, hence adding the salad with seeds, nuts, fruit...always weighed. it has been almost 2 years since i have started this "weigh" of life and it has truly helped me feel much better. i had put on 45lbs in 3 months of taking medication, and have lost 84lbs since on this plan. i can't remember weighing 128lbs and feeling so much less sluggish. This "weigh" of life has been something i have maintained with minimal exercise, due to joint issues...and i have had much success with everyone that has given it a try....however, you must be honest with yourself and avoid the portion guessing game whenever possible...until it becomes second nature.... My only regret is that i wish i had been aware of this sooner in my life...

                        2. re: workintheater

                          ask for dried yuba stick or fǔ zhú; or if you can't find the pre-cut strips, just get the whole yuba sheets and cut them yourself. you may actually be able to find what you're looking for at HMart on West 32nd.

                      2. I use cabbage--shredded or coarsely chopped, depending on my mood. Delicious in stir fries. I've even made lasagna with cabbage in place of noodles.

                        1. The cabbage recombination is a good one, it's really great if you saute for a bit - almost a very, very al dente noodle.

                          I find the tofu shiratki to be much too rubbery, I like konnyaku a bit better.

                          Chinese/loofa squash is a different texture/taste definitely worth a shot.

                          1. Dreamfields brand pasta works great for us. We're in the maintenance phase, not sure if it would work for earlier phases though. Texture, color and taste are exactly like regular/traditional pasta and comes in all standard varieties/shapes. If you can't find it in your grocery, you can buy it online.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: 2foodees

                              I'm never sure of their nutritional claims, the caloric values are about the same as regular pasta.

                              1. re: Rodzilla

                                Their nutritional claims about most of it not being digested are based on blood glucose tests too soon to detect the blood sugar rise the product causes, which is more than two hours post meal. And they use semolina, same as regular pasta, they just add a fiber blend to slow digestion some.

                              2. re: 2foodees

                                It's not low carb, though, nor a substitute. And it spikes blood glucose same as regular in many if not most folks, just later after meals.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Yes, the proof is in the meter testing---mcf is right. Both Dreamfields and whole wheat pastas are not the friends of many Type II DM folks.

                                  My husband would rather have a larger dish of eggplant "noodle" lasagna than a small scoop of a few penne, so it's a no brainer for him.

                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                    I've had better luck with Carba Nada noodles, but not if I take acid blocking meds (very rare), which slow down gut motility. I've tested it hours out, always eat with protein and only at night.

                              3. Not for this particular request but in general: I went to a rest any that used grilled pieces of calamari as a pasta substitute. I would imagine this would be low on carbs..

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: melpy

                                    I'd order grilled calamari in a heartbeat.

                                  2. Chinese squash might do the trick

                                    1. Just skimmed the thread, but has nobody suggested spaghetti squash?

                                      3 Replies
                                        1. re: Rodzilla

                                          Derp. Skimmed the responses but barely read the OP. Ill go kneel on some rice in the corner now.

                                        2. seperate the leaves of leeks and use them a sheets of pasta for lasagne.