Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shiratake Noodles...a Great Substitution for Carbs

Low Carb Diets..Shirataki Noodles: What They Are and Where to Get Them
By Laura Dolson, About.com Guide
Updated June 10, 2011

About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board
Tofu Shirataki Noodles
Image Courtesy House Foods America Shirataki noodles were originally developed in Asia, but they have recently come to the attention of people around the world. Because these noodles are almost totally a beneficial type of fiber1, they have almost no "bad" carbohydrates. There are some indications that they may have other health benefits as well.
How Shirataki Noodles Are Made:
Shirataki comes from the root of a plant (Amorphophallus Konjac, or a few other closely-related species) grown in various parts of Asia, and given many names in different places, including Konnyaku potato (or just konnyaku), konjac, konjaku, elephant yam (although as far as I can tell, they are not related to any other plant commonly called “yam”), and others. The fiber is also known as glucomannan.
Benefits of Shirataki Noodles:
There is some evidence that glucomannan, when tested as a powdered supplement, can play a role in blood sugar control, as well as improve cholesterol control and weight loss (see this report2). It also contributes to fiber intake and can be a substitute for starchy noodles.
Tofu Shirataki Noodles:
Shirataki noodles tend to be a bit “rubbery.” Although this can be somewhat reduced by a short period of boiling, one food developer found that adding tofu to the shirataki produced a “tamer” texture. It also adds a bit of protein and carbohydrate (1 gram protein and 3 grams carbohydrate per serving). This product is a little easier to find, at least in my area, than plain shirataki noodles.
How to Use Them:
Shirataki noodles are great in Asian noodle dishes3, but people have used them in lots of other ways. Finalists in a recipe contest4 used them in desserts, salads and patties.
More Recipes:

•Pasta With Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce5
•Quick Chicken Alfredo with Shirataki Noodles6
•Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Basil7
•Turkey Tetrazinni8
How They Are Packaged:
Shirataki noodles come "wet" - packed in liquid. They are ready to eat out of the package. I usually just rinse them under hot water, cut them up a few times with kitchen shears, and add them to the dish I'm cooking.
As referred to above, the glucomannan powder can be taken in capsules as a supplement. Speak with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
How Shirataki Noodles Taste:
Shirataki noodles don't have a real taste of their own. Although in some cases, the liquid they come in does have a (hard to describe) flavor, I find this can be easily washed off, though some people like to use a short period of boiling.
Where to Find Them:
More Asian grocery stores carry shirataki noodles under one of the names above. They are also getting easier to find in areas with a smaller Asian population. The Safeway near me carries them (in the refrigerator case near the bagged salad greens), as well as health food stores. They will always be in a refrigerated case.

Online: Quite a few different vendors online also have them in stock, including Lo Carb-U Foods9 and Miracle Noodle10. A search will reveal more.This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please visit: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/products/p/shiratakinoodle.htm

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

USDA Replaces Food Pyramid With a Plate

USDA Replaces Food Pyramid With a Plate
June 1, 2011 at 8:19AM by Justine Sterling |
First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the USDA will throw out its famous food pyramid (also known as MyPyramid) and replace it with MyPlate.

The USDA's food guide has had many looks throughout the years. From 1958 to 1979, the guide was a rectangle that had the "basic four" food groups blocked out: dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables, and breads and cereals. In 1979, a stacked diagram was introduced. It placed fruits and vegetables on the top and meat products on the bottom. Only a year later, the USDA conducted research for a new image after producers of the foods that were placed on the bottom began protesting. The new design was released in 1991 — and then promptly withdrawn and redesigned due to pressures from the meat industry, whose product was recommended only in small quantities. In 1992, the Food Guide Pyramid was released (see right). This pyramid was met with anger from nutritionists, who said it encouraged eating too much grain, which, in turn, encouraged obesity. In 2005, the USDA replaced it with the current symbol: MyPyramid (see left). This version did not favor any of the food groups and also noted the importance of physical activity. Everyone was happy. So why change it now?

In an interview with WebMD, Robert C. Post, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, said MyPyramid was failing to capture the public's attention. The new symbol for the USDA's food guide is meant to inspire the public and actively lead people to make the correct eating choices, particularly in supermarkets and restaurants. The New York Times reports that the pyramid's replacement will be a "plate-shaped symbol, sliced into wedges for the basic food groups and half-filled with fruits and vegetables." The wedges will be color coded for fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. According to the Times , there will be a smaller plate next to the large plate that represents dairy. The new symbol is designed to be easily understood at a glance. In his WebMD interview, Mr. Post explained that the new guide will "give people the tools and the opportunities to take action."

Don't confuse this new plate with the proposed vegetarian Power Plate that was in the news in January. This plate comes from the top and is an original construction. Only a few are aware of its exact composition.