My Gluten-Free Pasta Choice: Mung Bean Noodles

Giving up pasta isn't easy. So, I decided I didn't have to. I just had to get creative.
After realizing my wheat consumption aligned with joint inflammation, I decided to venture into a gluten-free diet. Since I prefer eating whole foods, I was thrilled to find a preservative-free one-ingredient pasta alterative at the grocery store: mung bean noodles.
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Mung Bean Noodles
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

After trying rice-based pasta noodles (mushy and flavorless), I was skeptical. But now I have a new favorite go-to noodle.

Mung beans are also known as cellophane noodles, mung bean threads or glass noodles. The gluten-free pasta earned these odd names because it turns from white to clear when boiled. The thin strands remind me of angel hair pasta or a very slender spaghetti. Even after boiling and baking them in pasta sauce, the noodles retain a common chewy noodle texture.

Mung beans don't have much natural flavor, so they absorb the flavor of other ingredients. I've been pairing them with homemade alfredo sauce and sauteed vegetables to create a calorie-heavy indulgence. That is the downside to the noodles; They aren't friendly on the figure.

One cup of dehydrated mung bean noodles contains 491 calories and 121 grams of carbohydrates. The beans don't offer any protein and very little fiber to your diet. However they contain iron, phosphorus and selenium. To boost the nutrition factor, pair the noodles with vitamin-packed veggies, lean proteins and low fat dairy products.

Although the noodles are a splurge, it's nice to have a gluten-free option that withstands boiling, baking and tossing with other ingredients without falling apart (like some gluten-free carbs).

Do you use mung bean noodles? What are you favorite recipes? Please share in the comments section below.
 
Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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37 comments:

  1. I've never had these, but always thought they looked tasty.

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  2. i wonder if your nutrition data is correct for mung bean noodles. it says above 419 calories for 1 cup of mung bean noodles. do you mean 1 cup hydrated/cooked or dry? this link
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4350/2 says it's 419 calories for one cup dehydrated mung bean noodles. which is NOT the same as one cup cooked. maybe i'm misunderstanding.

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  3. There are 491 calories in 1 cup of dehydrated mung bean noodles according to the Nutrition Data website from Self Magazine. If you boil the noodles in unsalted water, I don't see how any calories could be added. Now, if you boil the noodles in a meat broth, that would add calories.

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    1. Are you sure? My Lungkow mung bean noodles have 220 calories for a packet of 8 individual servings. That's next to nothing. If I have 2 individual servings (very filling), iy is still only 55 calories. Here's another calorie counter.
      http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/lungkow-vermicelli-mung-bean-thread-10297073

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    2. Interesting! I found my numbers at Nutrition Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4350/2
      I'll have to check a package of the noodles next time I buy them. Thanks for sharing! ~Angela

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    3. Hazel, That would be 8 Servings per package at 220 calories per serving. That would be 1760 calories in the whole package

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    4. No not 1760 calories, but 220 for the WHOLE package of 300 grams. Each individual serving is for 37. 5 grams

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    5. 37,5 gms calories is a couple forkfuls of noodles, if one looks at the calorific value of starch. So its mislabelled, and should indeed be 220 cal / serving. same as a few slices of bread.

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    6. http://www.amazon.com/Dynasty-SaiFun-Threads-Noodles-5-29-Ounce/dp/B000H27I5G/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1418412822&sr=1-1&keywords=bean+thread

      this says serving size (1 bundle, 50 grams) is 170 calories and 42 g of carbs.

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    7. Yes! The SaiFun noodles are 50 grams for 170 calories. The noodles mentioned above from Self Nutrition is 140 grams for 491 calories. Thanks! Angela

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  4. Cooking would not add calories. If that is the intake for the dehydrated noodle, it would probably continue to be the same when cooked. However, when it cooks the noodle would be expand, meaning it would take less to fill a whole cup, meaning the calorie count for 1 cup would actually reduce (because there would be fewer actual noodles)... However, cooking can change things chemically too. Therefore, more research may be needed to see if any caloric value is to be added.

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  5. Anonymous- she clearly states that one cup at 419 calories applies to DEHYDRATED noodles. Just as with any pasta or rice, the caloric value listed is when dry. That actually makes this a fairly low calorie dish, given that one would not likely eat the full cup after it is cooked.

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  6. These noodles expand dramatically when cooked. The one cup (121 grams) dried noodle she orinially referred to yields a huge heaping plate of hydrated cooked noodle -- enough for 2 but too much for a normal person to eat in one sitting. Since the 1 cup of dried noodle also yields 419 calories, this makes for a filling but relatively low carb meal.

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    1. Yes! One cup of dried noodles does make a lot! I usually place them in a baking dish with fresh veggies, sauce and cheese and bake them casserole-style, so I can enjoy a few meals from the pan! There's no way I could eat that much at one sitting. ~Angela

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  7. Hi,

    You do know that calcium rich dairy products are like an oxymoron right? In a country with one of the highest dairy consumptions in the world, we have one of the highest rates of osteoperosis. The dairy products actually rob our bones of calcium. So dairy is not good for you. http://www.notmilk.com/ https://www.msu.edu/~corcora5/food/vegan/osteo.html. http://www.thechinastudy.com/la-timesarticle.html. But I agree, mung bean noodles are tasty.

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    1. Lol! Good catch! I've updated the post to include low fat dairy. No more late night blogging for me! :) And, yes, I have heard that extra calcium consumption does not actually benefit people with osteoporosis. Interesting point for people to research.... ~Angela

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    2. low fat dairy is STILL Dairy and highly acidic ..when considering calcium, (alkaline) the body likes to keep itself within certain parameters, and dairy messes up the equilibrium greatly .. so the body will rob calcium from the bones to offset the acidic foods (dairy, wheat, etc) ..Try Almond milk!

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    3. I love almond milk! I have been using almond, soy and rice milk much more often in my cooking and smoothie making lately. Thanks! ~Angela

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  8. Have you tried Asian inspired dishes with these noodles? Or if you still like a creamy texture with your noodles, what about coconut milk? Like a coconut curry with bok choy, shitake, etc?

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    1. Yes! I have tried these noodles with a variety of sauces -- both thick and thin. I once made a coconut curry dish and it was delicious. I've also tossed them with sauteed vegetables and just drizzled a little soy sauce over the top. I also love coconut milk, but the calories keep me from using it too often. LOL! ~Angela

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    2. Angela,tThe calories you get from the coconut milk are not a big deal when you consider how amazingly great coconut is for you! Eating coconut regularly actually helps you to lose weight. :)

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    3. Excellent! I love coconut in all forms!! ~Angela

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  9. I soak the noodles in hot water for 7 min. While they are soaking I sauté thinly sliced carrots, celary, and green onions in a little chicken broth and a tsp. of sesame oil (don't overcook the veggies they are better a little crispy) after veggies have cooked add a clove of chopped garlic and steamed broccoli continue to sauté another min. or so. Add drained noodles, garlic powder, onion powder, cajun seasoning and soy sauce to taste. Continue to sauté until everything is coated well. Note: you may need to add more chicken broth as you go so it's not dry. You can also add chopped chicken or pork to this. Enjoy! :)

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    1. What a delicious idea! Thanks for sharing this with my readers! ~Angela

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  10. You must watch Alton Brown make "Ants climbing trees" with mung bean noodles!

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/ants-in-trees-recipe/index.html

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    1. Will do!! Thanks for the link. I love Alton Brown!! ~Angela

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  11. I have used these noodles to make a Filipino dish called Pancit. Saute some celery, onion and carrots seasoned lightly with a little salt and peepper, add a little soy sauce, shredded chicken and some chicken stock or chicken bullion and then toss with some well drained boiled bean thread noodles and allow to simmer tossing continually until the moisture cooks off. Taste great with a squeeze of lemon juice. I say salt lightly because there is a lot of salt in the soy sauce and chicken bullion or stock. If you are following a gluten free diet you need to make sure you are using a gluten free stock and soy sauce.

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    1. For alternative soy sauce I use braggs amino acids, its really healthy for you and it tastes exactly like soy sauce!

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    2. I have used Braggs too and really like it! ~Angela

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  12. I wanted to let you know that the noodles are made from the starch of the mung beans. But they are not Mung Beans!

    This is what a mung bean looks like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mung_bean and they are actually quite flavorful and good in soup. Even in a desert!

    Mung beans have a kind of sweet flavor, and might remind you a little bit of lentils.

    Did you know that mung beans are the type of beans they make bean sprouts from? Remember that next time you put sprouts on a cob sandwich, haha!

    Great blog post! I found it by Google searching ways to use cellophane noodles in non-Asian applications as a pasta replacement. I'm gonna give it a go!

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    1. Thanks for your information, Jessica! ~Angela

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  13. Great article! Have you tried shirataki noodles? They are made from an asian yam, are high in fiber and nutritionally calorie free. They are pretty flavorless so they take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked in. For some, their texture might take some getting used to. They are very filling and unlike carb-rich foods, they keep you feeling full for a long time.

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    1. Hi Jay, Thanks for the tip about shirataki noodles. I have never tried those but will add them to my shopping list! Thanks! ~Angela

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  14. I have made Chicken coconut curry and put it on mung bean noodles instead of white rice. I am probably spoiled by having grown up on rice but I didn't like it as well on the noodles. They seemed to soak up all the sauce and then hide the flavor somehow. I have also tried the sweet potato noodles and found them to have more substance in their "feel" when you eat them (they are slightly bigger in diameter) but not much more by way of flavor. I enjoyed all the tips from above about different ways to eat mung noodles!!

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    1. Mung bean noodles do soak up sauces like a sponge! Since rice is also gluten-free, I stay stick to that for certain dishes. Thanks for stopping by! Great thread going on here! ~Angela

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    2. if you thoroughly soak (or soak/cook) your mung bean noodles prior to adding them to another dish, you can reduce what they soak-up. They absorb a huge amount of water, and the flavor that is in the water around them, unless you are rigorous about hydrating them well prior to adding to your dish. It is common for us to soak them for an hour or overnight even (by accident, but it seems to work fine). Once they are fully hydrated they will get coated with flavors from your dish, but absorb them less.

      Also it is ALWAYS better for your gut, to hydrate your food completely prior to consumption. Foods that absorb water in your gut are very hard to digest.

      Good luck!

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  15. I am going to try shirataki noodles, I am not to sure about mung bean starch noodles. I did make them and they seem to be tasty but the word starch does not sound very healthy.

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