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Glass noodles, also known as cellophane or bean thread noodles, have become a popular option for those seeking gluten-free and low-calorie alternatives. These translucent noodles, often made from starches like sweet potato offer a unique texture and versatility in the kitchen. 

While celebrated for their lightness and suitability for various diets, the nutritional profile of glass noodles has sparked some controversy. Despite being low in calories and accommodating gluten-free requirements, these noodles may raise concerns due to their lack of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. 

Furthermore, many confuse sweet potato glass noodles with the use of spiralized sweet potatoes as noodles

In this exploration, we delve into the use of glass noodles, spiralized sweet potato noodles (affectionately called “spoodles” by my students), and also the use of an organic stone ground wheat pasta.  

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly about Glass Noodles

Initially, I was happy to learn about glass noodles, as I follow a gluten-free diet, however, I have concerns over the purported health claims in recent years and decided it was important to write about this.

As I predicted years ago, there has been a surge in gluten intolerance and a corresponding increase in the demand for gluten-free pasta options. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can trigger adverse reactions in individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 

The rise in gluten sensitivities, coupled with a growing focus on digestive health, has prompted many people to seek alternative dietary choices. Gluten-free pasta options, crafted from ingredients like rice, corn, quinoa, or legumes, provide a solution for those with gluten-related disorders. 

And this is where my concern begins.  Having coached many clients through an elimination protocol, we find that many of those gluten-free options do not necessarily contribute to a healthy diet.  The carbohydrate content in rice, corn, and even sweet potato starch is higher with less grams of protein, which has an adverse impact on blood sugar. According to the NIH, “Sweet potato starch (SPS) noodles despite being gluten-free, has low nutritional value as it lacks proteins, minerals, vitamins etc.”

While sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber and have antioxidant properties, the glass noodles are just sweet potato starch noodles stripped of their nutritional benefits. (Sad, I know.)

Let’s also address the elephant in the room… low calorie does not mean healthy foods. 

Compare Glass Noodles to Sweet Potato Spaghetti

So what makes a healthy meal? Your internet search may leave you confused, using sweet potato glass noodles interchangeably with spiralized sweet potato noodles. Let’s unwind this.

Making spaghetti noodles from spiralized sweet potatoes would be a whole food. Sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense root vegetables that offer a range of health benefits due to their rich nutritional profile, including vitamin A and vitamin C. 

As controversial as this might be, let’s look at what gets removed when we take the sweet potato starch and turn it into glass noodles: fiberSweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, promoting digestive health and helping to regulate blood sugar levels.  The fiber is needed for these benefits:

Blood Sugar Regulation: Despite their natural sweetness, sweet potatoes have a moderate glycemic index, and the fiber content helps regulate blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for individuals with or at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Heart Health: The potassium content in sweet potatoes supports heart health by helping to regulate blood pressure. Additionally, the fiber, antioxidants, and low-fat content contribute to cardiovascular well-being.

Weight Management: The combination of fiber and complex carbohydrates in sweet potatoes can contribute to feelings of fullness, aiding in weight management and supporting a healthy diet. Generally, whole sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, compared to highly processed or refined carbohydrates. The fiber content in sweet potatoes, particularly when consumed with the skin, contributes to the slower absorption of sugars, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood sugar.

Glass Noodles compared to Wheat Pasta

One of the top search results for this topic stated that glass noodles are a “nutritious alternative to wheat pasta.” Whoa. Glass noodles may help you reduce calorie intake but you will also reduce protein and other valuable nutrients.  But let me take the opportunity to draw a parallel for you.  Traditional pasta is stone-ground.  Stone-ground pasta is typically made from whole-grain wheat flour that retains the bran and germ, providing more fiber and nutrients than refined flours.

Nutrition labels don’t mention what is removed from the food. Stone-ground pasta can be a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, especially when compared to pasta made from refined flour. Whole grain pasta may offer nutrients like B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants.

This is similar to glass noodles. We need to consider what was removed!  A higher protein content is a healthier option for overall health, assisting with weight loss and warding off heart disease.

Diabetes in Kids

According to the CDC, “Not long ago, it was almost unheard of for young children or teens to get type 2 diabetes. Now, about one-third of American youth are overweight, which is directly related to the increase in kids who have type 2 diabetes, some as young as 10 years old.”

We are noodle lovers in America. How many kids do you know that love buttered noodles? Processed wheat, has the nutrient-rich outer bran shell and inner germ layer removed from the grain, leaving the starchy endosperm. This process leaves you a starchy, high glycemic index, noodle stripped of what makes this a nutritious meal.  

Again, I want to draw the parallel to the starchy sweet potato glass noodles. Our kids do not need all this starch. Protein plays a crucial role in their development. 

Gluten or Glyphosate

In another blog post I will discuss other factors to consider, including gluten and glyphosate.  For now, just know that if you’re looking for increased nutrient content, stone-ground pasta may be a more suitable option.  Buckwheat noodles are another gluten-free option along with rice noodles and noodles made from vegetables, like zucchini noodles. Instead of focusing on gluten-free, I urge you to focus on glyphosate-free. More on this later.

A Healthy Twist: Spiralized Sweet Potato Noodles

To get the anti-inflammatory effects keep the sweet potatoes as a whole food. The antioxidants and phytochemicals in sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body. Vitamin A, provided in abundance by sweet potatoes, can also support eye health.

So, let’s make sweet potato noodles!  Using a spiralizer, vegetable peeler, or julienne peeler, make strips or spirals of sweet potato making fun “spoodles,” as the kids called them in class.  Heat them in a large skillet over medium-high heat in some sesame oil and garlic for just 3-5 minutes, making a simple stir fry by adding some veggies.  This easy dish was a favorite food in my cooking classes.  

The kids added a handful of spinach and red pepper flakes and topped it with a dairy-free parmesan cheese. These are affectionately called spoodles and the kids love them!

Have fun with this recipe: Spoodles with Garlic and Spinach

My recommendation for stone-milled wheat pasta: Guardian Grains 

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About Lisa Jendza

Cooking is the competitive advantage for your child. As a former IT Consultant turned health coach my classes are an experiential process to teach critical thinking. The courage, confidence and creativity derived from my classes will impact all areas of their life. Freedom begins and ends in the kitchen.

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