Super low-cal noodle substitutes

So the other day I was in the store and I found these

I had to have a conversation with my buddy who speaks and reads Chinese waaaaay better than I do to find out that these noodles were made with agar agar, which comes from seaweed. They have nearly 0 calories in a serving, no carbs, and tons of fiber.


So of course they are a bit crispy/rubbery/chewy in texture. But no so bad once you stop wishing they were egg noodles. There are some total benefits, though:

  1. They make a great noodle salad. Mix up your favorite peanut sauce or salad dressing, however you like it, and that’s it. Add whatever chopping veggies you like and you’re done, so great.
  2. They basically never get soggy. It’s been really cold here lately (not the past two days, but all the days before that all the way back to Christmas) and I’ve been like making a bowl of noodle soup, then leaving it out, then eating it the next day (no animal products) and the noodles exactly as chewy as they were the day before. Yay no waste!
  3. You don’t have to cook them. You rinse them when you take them out of the bag, and you can soak them in hot water for literally one minute to take the chill off, but that’s it.

A Taiwanese friend of mine said she went on a diet using these noodles to replace all her rice and conventional noodles, and she lost weight. Obviously, I’m down with that, though for me it might not be quite so easy since we are American and we still get a lot of carbs from bread, cereal, etc.

korean and japanese kelp noodles

I found some Japanese varieties at Carrefour, but it’s all basically the same, made with seaweed and magic. I also bought some of the same stuff in block form because I’ve heard that can be prepared and served as “vegan” sashimi. Why not? Cheap sashimi is basically a vehicle for getting salty soy sauce and nostril-cavity-cleansing wasabi into me, anyway, so why not just eat kelp jelly instead of meat?

In my researchings online, I learned that this is the same stuff that’s used as a base for those tasty fruit jellies the kids always have, especially this time of year.

fruit jelly cups

However I also learned the sad news that because this stuff doesn’t dissolve in water (that’s why my noodles don’t get soggy overnight), it was responsible for a few kids choking to death. Please be careful with the little ones eating these noodles or the jellies!

For folks in Taiwan, you can buy the Korean seaweed noodles at the QuanLian (全聯福利中心) grocery stores. I saw the thinner version of the Japanese noodles at my local RT-Mart and the wider version (our favorite) at Carrefour. In the States, you can probably find them at some Asian grocery stores. If not, Amazon has a many varieties of kelp noodles.

quanlian store

Check out this post from Just Hungry for more information and suggestions about eating Japanese kelp noodles.