Many people turn to gluten-free diets with the hope of improving health problems or losing weight. The increasing popularity of these diets has led to widespread availability of gluten-free pastas, each with their own character and with some variation in calorie content and nutritional data.
The many types of gluten-free noodles each have their own flavor and texture. Choose from products made with rice, corn, quinoa, potato, buckwheat, beans, soy or kelp. Look also for different pasta shapes, such as fettuccine, penne, shells, rotini, bow ties, ravioli and couscous.
Grain-based gluten-free pastas provide approximately the same amount of calories as wheat noodles: about 200 calories per cup, cooked. Bean noodles, such as those made from black beans or mung beans, provide a similar amount of calories but significantly more protein. For gluten-free noodles that are nearly calorie free, try shirataki or kelp noodles.
Many grocery stores now carry gluten-free noodles, but natural markets usually offer a wider selection, even if the store is quite small. To find the very-low-calorie shirataki or kelp noodles, check the refrigerated section of health food stores and Asian markets.
There is little room for error when cooking gluten-free pasta. Different products specify different cooking times; if you overcook them, they will fall apart. You do not need to cook kelp or shirataki noodles; they come ready to eat.
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Linda Basilicato has been writing food and lifestyle articles since 2005 for newspapers and online publications such as eHow.com. She graduated magna cum laude from Stony Brook University in New York and also holds a Master of Arts in philosophy from the University of Montana.