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Posted Apr 20 2013 6:00am
By now, many people have heard of shirataki noodles. They're a Japanese noodle made of primarily yam flour that's stored in water, smells fishy, is gummy in texture, and is low in carbs and calories (which is why it, along with kelp noodles and spaghetti squash, has become popular among carb-phobic dieters).

But while shirataki noodles don't have gluten or much in the way of carbs or calories, they also tend to offer very little in the way of nutrition. They're either pretty much like eating pure nothingness, or they're enhanced with tofu (which can be a good thing, but can also lead to a bit of gastrointestinal distress for those that are sensitive to soy).

Nasoya  has improved shirataki noodles with its Pasta Zero , which has similar carb/calorie stats (20 calories and 4g of carbs per serving, with two servings per packet), but it has some added calcium, iron, and folic acid, as well as a wee bit of chickpea flour, so that you aren't just eating a purely nutritionally void filler food.

Pasta Zero comes in two varieties at the moment: spaghetti and fettucini. They have the same stats and the same simple ingredients (water, potato starch, konjac flour, chickpea flour, calcium hydroxide, reduced iron, folic acid).

It's really easy to prepare the noodles and takes even less time than preparing traditional noodles. Just rinse them (you won't want to skip this step, or they'll smell reallllllly fishy) and boil for two or three minutes. When I tried them, I just added them to whatever sauce I made a few minutes before it was done.

 That worked out pretty well. The first time I made them, I made them in a pasta sauce (I cheated and used Classico Garlic & Basil) with some spinach thrown in for extra flavor and a nutrition boost. This is the entire packet of spaghetti, so you see about how much it is.

And this is half of that, just about a serving.

I'd say that most people would probably need more than that as a serving, if it's the bulk of their meal. On the other hand, I suppose the assumption might be that you make it with grilled chicken or something, or as a side dish, since it doesn't provide much energy otherwise (calories are necessary!).

It looks like spaghetti, but it doesn't really taste or feel like pasta. As mentioned, it is gummier than your usual pasta (and from the get-go: there's no way to make this al dente. It's always going to taste like overcooked pasta). It's also just about completely flavorless on its own, so you'll want to be sure to cook it in something flavorful.

I liked it better the second time that I made it, because I made a richer sauce, with plenty of olive oil. That helped give it some oomph, so it would be satisfying.

I also melted some Daiya Havarti cheese (from the wedge) into it, which really brought the flavor and satisfaction level up.

All in all, Pasta Zero is fine if you're making a great (and rich) sauce, but it can be pretty lackluster if you're trying to eat it with a lighter sauce or you're hoping for something that exactly mimics regular pasta. It's a pretty solid gluten-free option, but I don't have Celiac's Disease and so I'll probably stick the normal stuff.

Do you like shirataki noodles?

If you do use alternative pastas, why?

What's your favorite pasta sauce?
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