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Shirataki Alfredo Recipe

June 6, 2011 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I can’t tell you how long I’ve put off experimenting with this recipe. As a low carbohydrate aficionado, I’ve been aware of shirataki noodles for many years. But the thought of replacing traditional pasta with a fiber based, gelatinous yam flour seemed decidedly unappealing from the get-go. In the past I’ve used vegetables such as spaghetti squash as a delicious replacement for pasta. I had no problem with that swap because I rationalized that it was, at least, a nutritious substitution. However, there’s a big difference between a mild, nutty squash and glucomannan, an exotic form of fiber, that essentially has no taste of its own.

In order to make shirataki noodles more appealing to mainstream consumers, some manufacturers add tofu to the original konjac yam base. This results in a texture that more closely resembles noodles made from grains. It also influences the way this low carb pasta is packaged. Traditional, soy-free shirataki noodles are often sold in a dry form. Shirataki noodles that are combined with tofu are packaged in water filled bags in the refrigerated section of some health food stores and specialty markets.

The upside of replacing traditional noodles with the shirataki-tofu alternative is threefold: 1) the latter is substantially lower in calories and carbohydrates; 2) these alternative noodles are free of gluten, a potentially allergenic protein found in many grains; 3) the fiber that makes up this product is extremely viscous and, therefore, imparts certain health benefits.

Konjac glucomannan (KGM) has been investigated as a medicinal food for decades. The health benefits attributed to supplementing with this unique substance tend to mirror those of other dietary fibers. But when compared to other sources of roughage, glucomannan tends to outshine them on a gram to gram basis.

Glucomannan vs. Constipation - Several studies have reported that relatively modest dosages of KGM, 5 grams or less per day, ease bowel movements, improve regularity and increase the levels of friendly bacteria (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) in constipated adults and children. (1,2,3)

Glucomannan vs. Hyperlipidemia - Supplementing with KGM improves lipid concentrations in both low carbohydrate and “normal” dieters. In a carbohydrate restricted diet, glucommanan further reduces LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. When added to typical diets, KGM effectively reduces ApoB, LDL and total/HDL cholesterol ratio. (4,5,6)

Glucomannan vs. Insulin Resistance - Type 2 diabetics can benefit from eating and/or taking glucommanan. Studies dating back to 1990 have determined that KGM is more effective than traditional fiber sources (wheat bran) in reducing lipids and serum fructosamine in this at-risk population. KGM also helps blunt post-meal blood sugar and triglyceride elevations associated with high carbohydrate food consumption. (7,8,9)

Glucomannan vs. Obesity - A good deal of research indicates that dietary fiber promotes satiety and helps manage weight. Intervention studies examining various fibers including glucommanan and psyllium have found that the former influences weight loss to a greater extent – even when lower dosages are utilized. A trial from 1984 determined that a dosage of 1 gram of KGM prior to each meal (3 grams/day) resulted in a loss of 5.5 lbs over an 8 week period. (10,11,12)

Broccoli Shirataki Alfredo

Shirataki Tofu Fettuccine (2 Packages)
1 cup Org. Broccoli Florets
4 oz Org. Heavy Cream
4 oz Natural Pancetta
1/3 cup Natural Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup  Natural Pecorino Romano
3 Org. Garlic Cloves (or to taste)
2 Tbs. Org. Chives
2 Tbs. Org. Basil
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Nutritional Information: Calories: 440. Protein: 26 grams. Fat: 30 grams. Fiber: 6 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 9 grams. Two servings per recipe.

Drain two 8 oz packages of shirataki-tofu noodles in a strainer or colander and rinse thoroughly with warm water. Pat noodles dry using non-chlorinated paper towels (noodles will still maintain some moisture). Set the noodles in a glass bowl while you prepare the other ingredients. Dice and saute the pancetta in a large saute pan. While pancetta renders and becomes crispy (about 5 t0 10 minutes), microwave the shirataki noodles on high for 1 minute. Pat the noodles dry once again with paper towels. The aim is to absorb as much of the natural moisture as possible. Finely dice the garlic. Add the broccoli florets and diced garlic to the saute pan with the crispy pancetta. Once the broccoli has softened a bit, but maintains some crunch, add the heavy cream, Parmigiano and Pecorino cheeses. Let the sauce reduce a bit and thicken (a minute or two).  Add the noodles to the pan and combine well with the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped basil and chives.

Glucomannan Fiber May Reduce Multiple Risk Markers in Type 2 Diabetics

Source: J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Oct;20(5 Suppl):370S-380S (a)

Konjac mannan use is associated with at least one caveat. Because it’s such an efficient form of fiber, in that it absorbs fluids and expands so well, it can present a problem with medication and nutrient absorption. In the medication department, plasma levels of certain drugs such as sulfonylureas (a class of anti-diabetic drugs) can be detrimentally influenced by co-adminstration with glucomannan. The absorption rate of fat soluble vitamins and minerals also appear to be negatively impacted by direct contact with KGM. In practical terms this suggests that medications and nutritional supplements ought to be taken apart from foods and supplements containing this source of fiber. (13,14,15)

Health and nutrition aside, you may be wondering what we ultimately thought about this unconventional pasta. For starters, let me say that the noodles were easier to deal with than we expected. If you peruse the Internet, you’ll find mentions of much more involved cooking techniques which include boiling and pan frying. Not necessary. The noodles themselves are essentially a blank canvas. They’ll take on the taste of whatever you add to them. The texture is chewier than conventional wheat derived noodles – strange at first, but we quickly got used to it. In the context of the creamy alfredo sauce, sauteed broccoli and pancetta they didn’t seem out of place at all. In fact, we genuinely enjoy them and in a slightly different way than other pasta alternatives, including spaghetti squash. I’m as surprised as anyone to say that shirataki-tofu noodles get my culinary nod of approval.

Be well!

JP

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4 Comments & Updates to “Shirataki Alfredo Recipe”

  1. vadim Says:

    I used to eat them on daily basis. i love shirataki noodles. I would mix them with sauteed portabello mushrooms, garlic and spinach and dress it all in the low carb sause. Tasted really good. Now that you mention them, I kind of miss it. Time to restock again.

  2. JP Says:

    Sounds delicious and nutritious, Vadim!

    Enjoy the shirataki noodle!

    Be well!

    JP

  3. diana blues Says:

    Wow! yummy! It is so easy to make. Can this b made using our regular noodles or pasta?
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  4. JP Says:

    Hello, Diana.

    Yes. You can use regular noodles or pasta. However, doing so will dramatically alter the nutritional composition of the dish – re: carbohydrates, gluten, etc.

    Be well!

    JP

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