Low Oxalate Pasta (and Noodle Substitutes)

One of the things that appalls many folks new to the low oxalate diet is the idea that they have to give up many of their grain-based goodies – breads, cakes, and most of all pasta!

While it’s possible to eat very small quantities of wheat-based pasta and still remain low ox, it would likely be a very frustrating exercise. Especially if you’re used to using pasta as a staple carbohydrate in your meals. So what’s a body to do? Well, I have been substituting various other items and recipes for wheat-based noodles for quite a few years now, so I wanted to share the benefits of my years of practice with you. There’s an option here for almost every one; high carb, low carb, grain free, low salicylate…just read on to get the full scoop.

I’ll start out with the options we know are low oxalate. These have been tested, so we know for certain that they are low. Then I’ll move on to items which have tested medium, and finally items which are presumed to be in the low-medium oxalate range, but that have not yet been tested.

Cellophane noodles

Also called bean thread, bean vermicelli, saifun and glass noodles
Saifun Cellophane Noodle PackageOxalate level: Very low – 0.7mg oxalate per half cup (boiled 5 minutes)
Where to find them: At an Asian grocery, or online here. Some regular groceries might have them in their Asian section.
Salicylate content: Unknown
Carb level: High
How to prepare it/Recipe links: Boil briefly, then add to your dish or soup.
Comments: The lowest of the low, these tested at 0.7mg of oxalates per half-cup serving. Unfortunately the brand tested is not known, and we don’t have an exact amount per 100g of noodle either. The other caveat is that their texture and appearance may not appeal to folks who are strict pasta traditionalists. They also only come in one shape – long and skinny.

When I first encountered these, back in my early twenties while dating a Thai guy (they’re quite common in Asian cooking), I called them “jelly-bean noodles,” because despite being made from beans, to me, once cooked, they looked very gelatinous. That said, they have almost no flavor, so they should serve as an excellent and very low ox way to get your favorite sauce or soup to your tastebuds, as well as providing plenty of carbs!

Miracle Noodles

Oxalate level: Low – 4.1mg of oxalates per 100g serving when cooked according to package directions.
Where to find them: If you have a local low carb store, you might find them there. For the rest of us, they are available here and here (use coupon code AFF10 to get 10% off at that second link).
Salicylate content: Unknown
Carb level: Low (very low calorie as well)
How to prepare it/Recipe links: Rinse, boil for one minute, then dry in a pan to desired dryness.
Comments: Low oxalate, low carb, low calorie…eating these noodles almost seems pointless at first :) . They’re nice because they come in several shapes, including ziti, angel hair and fettuccini, as well as “rice.” I should note that the prices directly on the Miracle Noodle site look outrageous, but this is because they only sell 10, 20 or 30 packs at a time. So on a per-pack basis, they only cost $2-$4 per pack, and that includes free shipping. Don’t forget to use coupon code AFF10 to get 10% off!

If you don’t want to buy that many packages without trying them first, they’re also available on Amazon in six-packs, though you’ll either have to pay shipping, or meet Amazon’s $35 minimum for free shipping. Wherever you purchase them, just make sure you avoid the version with spinach in it! They’re clearly labeled, so this should be easy. One other thing – you’ll see that they call these shirataki noodles, and that I have shirataki listed separately. This clearly illustrates the importance of brand differences in the same food product when it comes to oxalate value, as well as the importance testing each brand/product separately.

Shirataki Noodles

Oxalate level: Medium – 4.9mg oxalate per 100g. Brand tested was House Foods.
Where to find them: At your local Asian grocery, or online here.
Salicylate content: Unknown
Carb level: Low
How to prepare it/Recipe links: May be brand-specific, so check the package.
Comments: As mentioned above, this is another brand of the same sort of starch-based noodle as Miracle Noodles, HOWEVER. This brand are “tofu shirataki,” which likely raises their oxalate content a tad (tofu is medium oxalate). They are considerably cheaper, though at $0.80-1.80/pack on Amazon, (watch shipping though). They also have a taste and texture that’s closer to that of wheat pasta, as well as being available in handy shapes like macaroni and spaghetti.

If you are fortunate enough to have an oriental grocery near where you live, they may also have these, though they may not be the same brand, so oxalate content may vary somewhat. Still, they’re probably all going to be in the low-medium range, as long as they don’t have any other added ingredients. Note that if you see “yam,” “Japanese yam,” “yam flour” or the like in the ingredients, that’s not an added ingredient – all shirataki are made from Japanese yam flour. This is true even if they call it something else – like glucomannan fiber, as Miracle Noodle does.

Cabbage (green)

Oxalate level: Low – Raw is 5.0mg per 100g, boiled is 2.1mg per 100g

Photo credit: La Grande Farmers' Market

Where to find them: Any grocery store.
Salicylate content: Low
Carb level: Low
How to prepare it/Recipe links: See comments
Comments: Low carb dieters have been using cabbage to replace wheat products for decades now. To use cabbage as a noodle replacement, simply peel the leaves off of the head & wash them, then stack the leaves and slice them into the width of “noodles” you want. I’ve found they work for anything from about linguini size on up to lasagne. Boil as you would regular noodles. If you hate the flavor of boiled cabbage, add a half cup of cream to the boiling water and it will take away most, if not all, of that “cabbaginess.” They don’t swell like noodles when you cook them, though they do seem to contract in volume a bit simply because boiled cabbage clings together more closely than raw. Since cabbage is low oxalate even when raw, you can use your leftover leaves as wraps for sandwich fillings, or to make stuffed cabbage rolls, just to name a couple options. It also has the added benefit of being both cheap, and relatively high in calcium!

Zucchini

Also called courgette.

Spiral Zucchini Noodles

Photo credit: Martin Criminale

Oxalate level: Low – raw is 5.7mg per 100g, boiled is 4.5mg per 100g
Where to find them: Any grocery store
Salicylate content: High
Carb level: Low
How to prepare it/Recipe links: see comments
Comments: There are a couple of ways to prepare zucchini as noodles. Probably the easiest (and the most kid-friendly), is spiralizing. Just like it sounds, this takes spiral strips off of the zucchini, yielding long, loopy noodle-like shapes. This is made very easy by modern spiral-slicers, like this highly rated one. If you’re trying to sneak these in under the radar of a picky eater, it may be best to peel the zucchini first, to remove its green appearance.

For a slightly less versatile, but also slightly less expensive option, this peeler is actually recommended by reviewers (like this one and this one) for making zucchini noodles. Just be careful, these boogers are super sharp! I have read that you can also use these same slicing techniques on yellow squash as well, though I haven’t tried it myself. It does seem like it would be a good option though, since yellow squash are actually slightly lower in oxalate than zucchinis (4.3mg/100g)

When making noodles out of zucchini, most folks discard the center, seedy portion of the zucchini, as it doesn’t “noodle” very well. Of course, if you are like me, and hate waste, you’ll probably wonder what to do with the seeds. Never fear! I’ve found you this recipe for roasted zucchini seeds, which are undoubtedly just as low ox as the rest of the zucchini.

Spaghetti Squash

Oxalate level: Baked (which is the only value available) is 5.8mg per 100g

Photo Credit: Rusty Clark

Where to find them: Any grocery store
Salicylate content: Unknown
Carb level: Low
How to prepare it/Recipe links: See comments
Comments: Just bake one of these bad boys up for half an hour, then use a fork to pull out the “spaghetti” in the middle. I was amazed the first time I did this; I don’t know how these things grow with such an unique texture, but it really does look like spaghetti when you’re done! Specifically, slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then bake it, sliced-side-down, for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees. Then the strands will come out easily, similar to what you see in the picture at right. According to About.com, you can also nuke them for six to eight minutes, or boil them for 20, but I’ve never tried those methods.

As with zucchini, you can roast the seeds of your spaghetti squash as well. Here’s a recipe!

Rice Pasta (American Style)

Oxalate level: Medium – two brands have been tested, and they fell in the 8-9mg oxalate per 100 grams of (cooked) pasta.
Where to find them: Many grocery and health food stores
Salicylate content: Unknown. Rice is negligible, but so far as I can tell, pasta has not been tested.
Carb level: High
How to prepare it/Recipe links: Like any other pasta; boil until tender.
Comments: In my experience, most if not all pastas made from rice flour on mainstream American store shelves seem to use brown rice flour – even the Annie Chun brand I’ve seen in the Asian sections. This is why I refer to them as “American style.” Because brown rice contains the bran, it is higher in oxalates than white rice. Ergo, my bet is that if we were to test a brand which used only white rice flour, it would likely come in lower than these. Of course, rice noodles made with white rice flour are readily available elsewhere, such as online. However, they have not been tested for oxalates, so I cannot guarantee that they are lower.

The nice thing about these is that they come in pretty much all the shapes you expect of pasta. I think of this as an excellent “gateway pasta” for when you haven’t yet lowered your diet all the way down to low oxalate. Remember to never go too low too fast – read all about why here.

Untested Pasta Options

The foods in this final section have not been tested for oxalates. I include them here in the interest of completeness, but until they are tested, they definitely fall under the heading of “consume at your own risk.”

Asian Style Rice Noodles

Also called Maifun, Rice Stick, Rice Ovalettes, probably many other names.
Oxalate level: Unknown
Where to find them: Asian grocery stores, or online here.
Salicylate content: Unknown. Rice is negligible, but so far as I can tell, rice noodles has not been tested.
Carb level: High
How to prepare it/Recipe links: Boil until tender; sometimes this is a shorter amount of time than traditional pasta.
Comments: Personally, I have eaten these on several occasions with no noticeable ill effects. They’re generally much cheaper on a per-ounce basis than their American counterparts. They are also perfectly bland in flavor, so as not to interfere with your recipe ingredients, and have a very similar texture to wheat noodles. They also come in several different sizes and shapes, including something called ovalettes (look in the freezer section for these) which are kind of like a cross between gnocchi and rice noodles.

Red Lentil Pasta

Oxalate level: Unknown, but red lentils are low.
Where to find them: Online here.
Salicylate content: Unknown, but red lentils are low.
Carb level: High
How to prepare it: Varies according to brand; follow package directions.
Comments: These pastas have only one ingredient: red lentils. Though this does not guarantee that they are as low in oxalates as plain red lentils are (in truth, the flour products of most items are higher ox than their whole counterparts), it is likely that they aren’t very high. There is another brand available, besides what I could find on Amazon, however I could not find an online retailer for them. You can view the manufacturer’s web site here, however, and perhaps contact them and see what stores carry their products. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and find them near you!

That’s all, folks!

So that wraps up all of the low oxalate pastas, noodles, and substitutes of which I am aware. Have you encountered any which I failed to mention here? If so, please leave me a comment so that your fellow readers may be enlightened!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. These commissions are what allow me to continue to operate this site with minimal advertising. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe in, and that will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.”

Cabbage, zucchini and spaghetti squash photos used under CC License, and are property of their respective owners.

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