While perusing Pinterest yesterday (I have an addiction, OK?) I came across a recipe from Hungry-Girl for Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo. As a lover of pasta as well as Alfredo, I was immediately suspecious about the claimed 81 calories per serving. Actually, I thought it was a typo and insisted on checking out the recipe more thoroughly.
Turns out, Hungry Girl wasn’t lying…81 calories per serving for something that significantly resembled actual fettuccine Alfredo.
How is this even possible? I know for a fact, that actual pasta has between 200-250 per serving sans any sauce (thanks myfitnesspal). So how, pray tel, could this recipe be under 100 calories WITH sauce?
Well herein lies the answer to this mystery…
Tofu Shirataki. I have actually read a few articles about this “shaped noodle substitute” (it really says that on the bag) and have debated about trying it. Shirataki is made from blending tofu with the root of the Konnyaku – a member of the yam family- and it comes a several different pasta shapes. It’s cholesterol & gluten free, Vegan, and has only 20 calories per serving (2 servings are in the above bag size).
“Why not?”, I thought, and headed over to my local Asian Grocery Store, Sunrise Supermarket. The store itself was an experience, selling all kinds of Asian foods from the delicious looking sashimi grade tuna, to the just plain odd (I’m looking at you powdered jelly-fish!). Surprisingly, my Shirataki was reasonably priced at around $1.50.
Back home I went, armed with my squiggly noodle stuff and all the fixin’s to make the Alfredo sauce per the recipe: Laughing Cow light cheese, sour cream, & Parmesan cheese. Simple, easy, and quick.
I wish I could adequately describe my skepticism for these ‘noodles’ because I many of them. First off, they need to be kept refrigerated. Secondly, they are suspended in some sort of liquid that smells strangely of fish (although there is no fish listed in the ingredients). And thirdly, how were these even going to compare to actual pasta?
Step one: Rinse the noodles thoroughly. I rinsed mine for about 3 minutes because, as I mentioned above, they smelled fishy…gross. Thankfully, the fishy smell was rinsed away leaving something that looked surprisingly like actual cooked Alfredo noodles:
Step two: Dry those noodles good! Apparently the sauce will stick better to the noodles if they are dry, and I didn’t want to risk any residual fishy goo in my dinner.
Step three: Put all the ingredients into a skillet and cook until the cheese has melted and the noodles are heated through. No boiling these suckers, they are ready to go!
Now the recipe calls for salt and pepper to taste. I also threw in some garlic powder (mmm…garlic…), and an additional tsp of sour cream to make it a touch creamier.
Step Four: Serve it up with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. It really was that simple. I included a side of Brussels sprouts because I had them on hand and it was added insurance that my boyfriend wouldn’t be stealing bites of my dinner – not that he was going to anyway after watching me prep the noodles…
Now, for the important part. The taste testing…
If you go into eating these things with the notion that they will have the same texture as actual pasta, you will be sorely disappointed. They are far more chewy. Think unflavored gummy strips. Appetizing right? Well honestly, they don’t particularly taste like much. They absorb the liquid or sauce they are cooked with so it’s not like they tasted bad at all. In fact, the more I ate it, the more I enjoyed it. Once I got over the texture thing (which can be difficult) I found that the Shirataki did, in fact, give me the satisfaction of actual pasta dish – just without all the calories.
Astoundingly, The above meal (including the Brussels sprouts and additional ingredients I threw in) contained only 200 calories. That’s just crazy talk.
Now, let me assure you, I will not be giving up my normal pasta anytime soon (we runners love our carbs) but its nice to know there is a decent alternative to the highly calorie pasta dishes we all love.