When I was dieting, (before it all went wrong) I was pretty damn happy to make the discovery of konjac/shirataki noodles. For many who have heard of these products, they may shriek back in horror and run. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these things, they are a kind of noodle made from konjac root.
Popular for their insane nutritional properties of virtually no calories, carbs, fat but plenty of fibre, they get a bad name for their texture and smell. Granted, if you were expecting them to taste and behave like normal egg noodles, I’m not surprised you were upset. But if you take them for what they are, I see no difference between having them and typical Asian style rice noodles you may find in dishes such as Ho Fun.
I’ve tried various versions by many brands and they’re still a huge part of my diet as they’re so quick and versatile; but the one I’m here to talk about today is the Barenaked range, the UK’s first high protein pasta and only high protein and low carb.
Barenaked noodles came about in 2011 and was mostly unheard of until August 2013 when creator, Ross Mendham appeared on the 11th series of Dragon’s Den with his proposal. Stripped of his confidence though he was, he successfully received an investment from Peter Jones and now the noodles are available from the home website and is now even provided in UK stores such as Holland and Barrett and GNC.
You can see Ross’s moment in the sun here:
In The Buff!
As you can see by the picture, they don’t quite resemble traditional konjac noodles. They’re thicker and noticeably more coloured than the original ones. This is what separates the Barenaked range from the ones you may have previously tried. The texture, though still chewy is more reminiscent of egg noodles, and I think this is probably to do with the presence of oat and soy flour in the ingredients, which creates a softness to the noodle, so is less of shock when you’re used to that of pasta. They’re not quite “twirlable” and to cut them with a knife is naturally more challenging as they are still slightly gelatinous.
What’s always been great about konjac or shirataki noodles is the ability to absorb flavour. Barenaked’s range I find don’t soak up quite as much when left in, for example, a soup broth. I find it to be more suited to drier dishes such as stir frys and is much superior for Italian pasta sauces than shirataki. It grips onto sauces well but remains light and bouncy so they don’t become saturated or soggy. In other words, they need a little dressing.
Enough dreadful puns, let’s divest the facts (last one, I promise)
In the world of fitness, health, diet and weight loss carbohydrates have been giving a bad name and deemed to make us fat. This isn’t inherently true, and I find diets that abolish these foods extremely annoying. However, carbs are very easy to overeat and are generally not as filling as fats and proteins. Utilised properly, carbs can be extremely beneficial to body builders and even those just trying to lose weight, but in the meantime, why not just cut the calories and opt for Barenaked noodles with the following nutrition:
Ingredients: Konjac flour, Oatmeal flour (gluten free) soya bean fibre, food grade calcium hydroxide, water.
With pasta and noodle dishes, it’s often the whopping portion size of the noodle that brings the calories, so with this you could still enjoy your favourite sauces!
Even better than the above, Barenaked have recently produced a protein enriched version of the noodles. Now, I love meat and protein powder as much as the next person but my favourite pasta sauces are actually vegetable ones. Seeing as dinner is my biggest meal of the day, unless I eat loads of meat for breakfast or lunch, I just won’t hit my targets, which when trying to build muscle is crucial. This is where Barenaked Protein Noodles are one of my favourite store cupboard items.
Ingredients: Konjac flour, Soya bean flour, food grade calcium hydroxide (firming agent) water
As expected, the calorie count is increased with the added protein, but you’re looking at approximately 50 calories for your pasta, you can’t really complain!
I swear by the Barenaked range. They’re always there for a quick and tasty meal and reassure me I’m eating healthily. I am having to completely start from scratch and re-learn how to eat as a child does, and honestly these have been one of my saving graces to break me into a normal style of eating. Even when I feel I am over my disordered eating however, I will still rely on these particularly for those cutting phases. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with carbs if you know when to stop, but as a very greedy Italian I don’t have a full-o-metre when it comes to my pasta. As much as I like other konjac noodle ranges, they just don’t compare to Barenaked’s resemblance to pasta. They will never replace pasta fully for me, but in the meantime, they fill me up and keep my mind at peace. Ross, you’re a lifesaver.
Pros: Low calorie, low fat, low carb, high fibre, (protein range) high protein, quick and easy to cook.
Cons: Will never be like real taste or texture, price. All konjac noodles slap your wallet around a bit, unfortunately, and the Barenaked range cost £2.99 in Holland and Barrett while other brands start from £1.99. Considering the extra care that’s put into them, I find it reasonable and am happy to spend that amount, but it doesn’t change my personal salary or necessary bill payments – which is why I consider it a con.
You can learn more about the range and history of Barenaked on their website; https://www.barenakedfoods.co.uk/ Go on! Fill yer’ bowl!
For instructions on how to cook these wonderful noms see my post on my Instant Inside-Out Lasagne: http://wp.me/p3uKpY-75