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Pasta with no carbs and almost no calories? It's true

Staff reports Updated: January 16, 2013 at 12:00 am

The conventional wisdom of cutting carbs and calories generally has meant that pasta is a no-go.

But recently, a new noodle has challenged that thinking, giving dieters a fresh way to have their pasta and their New Year’s resolutions. We’re not talking spaghetti squash, which never has made a satisfying substitute for the real deal.

It’s shirataki noodles that have attracted the attention of so many dieters of late. Their appeal? No carbs, no fat and almost no calories.

It’s true. These slightly chewy noodles — which usually are found alongside the tofu and other refrigerated Asian foods in grocers’ produce sections — are made from a water-soluble fiber that comes from a type of sweet potato (some are made with tofu as well, which contains a tiny bit of fat). Though they once were found only in Asian markets, they have begun showing up in most large supermarkets.

Shaped like spaghetti, fettuccine and even “rice,” shirataki noodles come packed in water and require only draining, rinsing and briefly boiling.

Don’t skip the rinsing step. This washes away a slight bitterness and funky smell, which disappear entirely once you’ve rinsed and boiled.

While they certainly are filling, in keeping with their lack of carbs and calories, the noodles have virtually zero flavor. But Grace Young, author of “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” considers that an advantage. She says a lack of flavor makes shirataki the perfect ingredient for dishes where the other ingredients or the sauce define the dish.

To give shirataki a more pasta-like consistency, try dry roasting them in a well-oiled or nonstick skillet over high heat for about a minute (be careful not to burn them) before adding them to your favorite dish.

CHICKEN AND SHIRATAKI NOODLE SOUP

Yield: 6 servings

10 cups reduced-sodium

chicken broth

2 cups shredded carrots

1 large stalk celery, coarsely

chopped

3 tablespoons minced fresh

gingerroot

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 (8-ounce) packages

fettucine-style

shirataki noodles,

drained and well rinsed

4 cups shredded cooked

skinless chicken breast

3 tablespoons chopped fresh

dill

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and ground black pepper,

to taste

Procedure:

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the carrots, celery, ginger and garlic. Cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the shirataki and chicken, then simmer until the noodles are just hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the dill and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.

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