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Aug 10, 2012 08:06 AM

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: 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.

                  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:

                      Here's some cooking info:

                      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.