Friday, May 3, 2013

REVIEW: Wildwood's Pasta Slim Spinach Fettucini

Many dieters avoid pasta dishes. Noodles in general, really. A serving of most pastas, (yes, even whole wheat ones), is about 200 calories. And sadly, a serving is only 2 ounces uncooked. Measure it for yourself, friends- You'll find that it is a much smaller amount than you're used to eating.
But in this day and age, more and more companies are releasing their own kinds if Tofu Shirataki Noodles. "What are those?" you may ask. Well, according to Wikipedia, "Shirataki are very low carbohydrate, low calorie, thin, translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodles made from devil's tongue yam (elephant yam or the konjac yam). Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber, they have little flavor of their own.There are two types of shirataki noodles sold in the United States. Traditional shirataki noodles have zero net carbohydrates, no food energy, and no gluten, and they are useful for those on low-carbohydrate diets. Tofu-based shirataki-style noodles are becoming increasingly popular in U.S. supermarkets and health food stores.
So, in a nutshell, Shirataki Noodles are a great mix-in to your regular pasta when you want really big portion sizes. Or, if you're trying to go really low-calorie/low-carb, or are gluten-intolerant, you can replace your standard wheat noodles with them altogether.
My Mama bought these while she was the grocery store, so I have no idea how much a single bag costs, but from my previous Shirataki purchases, I'd say one package of PastaSlim is close to $2.00.

The kind of Shirataki Noodles I will be reviewing today come from Wildwood. They're part of their Pasta Slim line, which comes in three varieties so far: Spaghetti, Tomato and Herbs Angel Hair, and Spinach Fettucini (the one I will be reviewing for you today). Wildwood boasts these as having "the taste of traditional Spinach Fettuccini at only 25 calories per serving." These are the type of Shirataki Noodles that are made with tofu, so they're not completely calorie-free. Each serving (or 3.5 oz.) is 25 calories, and there are two servings a bag. 50 calories for 7 oz. of pasta? That's crazy-low! You could 28 oz. of this type of Shirataki for the same amount of calories found in only 2 oz. of spaghetti noodles. But how do they compare? Let's find out!
You can find Shirataki noodles in the Asian/refrigerated/organic section of select grocery stores. I found mine at the local Piggly Wiggly, where those three sections are all pretty much combined together. Evidently, Piggly Wiggly doesn't have a big selection of Asian or organic foods. Anyway,  the noodles come in small bags full of liquid. What's the liquid for? I have no clue. But that means the noodles already have a texture as if they've been boiled, so that's something you can check off the list for preparing them.
I opened my bag of Spinach Fettucini with a pair of scissors and dumped the noodles into a collander to let the liquid drain off of them. In my experience, Shirataki noodles have a terrible, terrible smell, but these ones weren't so bad. Either that or I'm getting used to the aroma.
They aren't really that neon green; I was just using the flash on my camera.
After that, I washed the noodles off and placed them on a dish towel so I could pat them dry. It's very important to get the noodles as dry as possible. This way, they have more of a real-noodle-like consistency. Once they had been dried off, I put the noodles in a bowl and stuck them in the microwave for one minute. When that time was up, I took the noodles out, drained them once more in the colander  patted them dry a final time, and placed them back into the bowl.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Shirataki noodles are really long, much like ramen. If you don't want tall noodles, I suggest snipping them with some kitchen shears a couple of times. I don't really care if my noodles are long or short, so I skipped that step.
Before sticking them back into the microwave, I tried one noodle strand plain. Wikipedia was right! Other than just a minute flavoring a spinach, these Fettucini noodles barely had any taste to them at all. If you plan on eating them plain, you better dress them up somehow, or you will be flat-out bored. I sprinkled the noodles with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Italian Seasoning, then mixed it all together until all the noodles in the bowl were covered. I thought this sounded like a safe spice mixture that would complement the spinach flavoring well, but feel free to season yours with whatever you like! Once you're ready, put the bowl back into the microwave and heat it up for a minute one last time.
The noodles, topped with seasoning. They have yet to be stirred.
I grabbed my hot bowl of noodles and sat down besides the coffee table. It was time to try these babies out!
Slurping up a single noodle, I found that the seasonings I had put on totally cured the Shirataki of its bland flavor. In essence, the noodles are a lot like standard tofu. Once done cooking, they'll taste like whatever you put on them. And garlic + salt + pepper + Italian seasoning= heaven!
I wrapped up several noodles around my fork and took a bite. The one downside of Shirataki noodles is that they do NOT have the same texture of spaghetti. Spaghetti will break into smaller pieces from the first bite. Shirataki noodles will not. They have somewhat of a gummy texture, and it takes some work and a decent amount of chewing to break them up. In fact, after chewing some noodles up, I took one out of my mouth to see how it looked, and it hadn't changed its shape AT ALL. A little weird, and a lotta different from wheat pasta.
So, Shirataki noodles have a weird texture. And they don't have that wheaty, floury taste like pasta does. Shirataki noodles have a bland taste, if there is any kind of taste to be had there at all. So don't think you will enjoy these on their own. Even though the noodles I bought were supposed to be Spinach Fettucini, you could barely even tell the spinach was there.
A strong point of Wildwood's Shirataki noodles is there nutrition. One serving has 3g of filling fiber, so its a satisfying food. I felt nice and full after I had finished off my bowl. A serving also contains 15% of bone-building calcium. Sweet!
Overall, are Shirataki noodles as good as REAL pasta? No, definitely not. If need be, would they make a good replacement? Sure. Until they come out with a low-calorie noodle that looks and tastes exactly like pasta, these are your best bet. They aren't terrible- In fact, they taste really good with whatever you put on them- they just aren't real noodles. But to the dieter/low-carber/gluten-sensitive individual, this is as good as it gets. But if I'm sounding like I didn't like the noodles, far from it. They're just not as enjoyable as real pasta, that's all. I'm actually really excited to try Shirataki noodles with things like pasta and pesto sauce. Oooh... I'm seeing some super low-cal recipes in the future!

Nutrition: 9.25/10
Taste: 6.75/10
Price: 4/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Deliciousness Rating: 7.25/10

Wildwood's Pasta Slim Spinach Fettucini

  • Pros: Tastes like whatever you put on top, very low in calories, high in fiber and calcium, filling, gluten-free, don't have to boil
  • Cons: Bland by itself, gummy texture, doesn't taste or feel like real pasta, smells kind funky

There you have it! Have any of you tried Shirataki noodles yet? Which company/brand/flavor/shape is your favorite? Are there any pastas alternatives you guys enjoy? Please leave your comments down below! :) Till' next time!


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