Pasta can be a very filling and tasty meal to have. But, the pasta itself is high in carbs and calories. For example, angle hair pasta (my favorite) has 200 calories per serving.
Fortunately, there are substitutes for pasta that taste almost exactly like pasta. For example, Costco sells Healthy Noodles. On the box, there’s a recipe for Italian Marinara using these healthy noodles. The noodles are precooked and each box contains 6 packs.
Nutrition-wise, they only contain 30 calories per serving. Plus, it’s got zero carbs because all of the carbs are from fiber which doesn’t get digested by the body and simply passes through. This is ideal if you are on the Keto diet.
Preparation is very easy. Just rinse the noodles and use them since they’re precooked. I tried this out with Rao’s marinara sauce and surprisingly, it tasted about 90% the same as regular pasta. I still prefer the taste of regular pasta, but for the calories saved by using Healthy Noodles, it’s worth the small difference in taste.
You can also try Shirataki Noodles by Miracle Noodle. They sell an angel hair style noodle containing only 5 calories per serving. No wonder it’s called Miracle Noodle!
UPDATE: I actually tried making pasta with Miracle Noodle Angel Hair style noodles. The shape wasn’t like angle hair pasta at all but more like spaghetti. More importantly, the texture wasn’t particularly good. It was too sticky. I think the Healthy Noodle option above tastes better.
You can also Nasoya Pasta Zero spaghetti but like the Miracle Noodle Angel Hair style noodles, I didn’t care for the texture which tasted like rubber.
In October 2021, I visited Istanbul, Turkey to indulge in Turkish food. Below are some of the places I visited with my personal rating of how good each food tasted on a scale of 1 to 10. Some of the restaurants we visited were highly rated by others but we found them to be not as good as some unknown, hole-in-the-wall places. You can find the same type of food all over Istanbul as there are restaurants and street vendors everywhere. But, the pictures on display can be deceiving as the taste can vary greatly from one place to another.
Şehzade Cağ Kebap Hoca Paşa, Hoca Paşa Sk. No:6 D:4, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Google Map
This place specializes in Cağ Kebap. The cost for 2 skewers and lavash bread is TL 34 (US$ 3.83). The meat was especially good. Unlike traditional doner kabab on a vertical spit, this one is on a horizontal spit.
This place is well known as one of the best, if not the best, baklava restaurant in Istanbul. They only have one location in Istanbul, unlike Hafiz Mustafa, which is everywhere. Karaköy Güllüoğlu does have really good Baklava BUT their ordering process is chaotic.
For to-go orders, you can order first and they charge by weight. The problem is they are so busy that it’s hard to tell them which type of baklava you want because there’s so many people in your way. For to-go orders, they will shrink wrap the boxes or aluminum containers with plastic so nothing leaks.
For dine-in orders, you have to pay first. The problem is they will charge you for whatever items you ask for regardless of whether any of the items are still available. I ordered a few different types of baklava and paid for them but when I gave my receipt to the workers behind the counter, they said that they ran out of a few things I paid for and had to substitute them with other things.
For one of the best baklava shops in Istanbul, they really need to do a better job with their ordering process. Maybe have a numbering system where you take a number and just wait to be called rather than have people walking all over the place looking confused. The ordering process was so lame that I didn’t even want to eat there so we just ordered to go and ate at the hotel. The baklava is really good though so we had to buy a bunch to bring back home.
Kofte (Turkish Meatballs)
Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta Alemdar, Divan Yolu Cd. No:12, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Open every day, 10:30AM–11PM Google Map
One food guide recommended this place which is located across the street from Sultanahmet Square. It’s supposed to specialize in Kofte (Turkish meatballs) as the name of the restaurant has the word “Kofte” in it. Ironically, the Kofte was just okay. Instead, the shish kabab was actually pretty good and tender.
Kofte Rating: 5 Shish Kabab Rating: 8
Shisha and Sahlab
There’s this cafe directly in front of the hotel we stayed at (The Mercure Istanbul Sirkeci). Among other things, they offer shisha (hookah) and sahlab / sahlep. Both were exceptional.
One food guide recommended this place for its pide. Unfortunately, I found it to be just okay.
Mavi Halic Pidecisi Sarıdemir, Kutucular Cd. No:28, 34134 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Open everyday: 8 AM to 6:30 PM Google Map
Pide Rating: 10
This place is located in a small alleyway full of shops in what looks like an ancient marketplace. This time I ordered the pide (Turkish pizza) with eggs on top. The eggs were cooked just how I like them – somewhat runny. The entire pide including the eggs was very good.
Menemen (Turkish Egg Scramble)
Lades Menemen Katip Mustafa Çelebi, Mahallesi, Sadri Alışık Sk. 11/12 11/12 11 D:12, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey http://lades.com.tr/ Open everyday 7AM–11PM Google Map
Menemen Rating: 10
This place is located just off of the famous Istiklal Cadessi (Independence St). They specialize in Menemen (Turkish eggs scramble) as the word Menemen is in its name. I ordered the kind with Turkish sausage. It was exceptionally good. I would have ordered it twice but was afraid I’d get too full to try other food on the schedule for the day. If you visit Istanbul, definitely visit this place as you will most likely visit Istiklal Cadessi. It cost 25 Turkish Lira (US$3).
We weren’t planning on eating grilled intestines but since the place we intended to eat at was closed, we gave this place a try. The grilled intestines looked good but I didn’t really care for the taste.
This place is a little pricey for Istanbul standards – probably because it’s in the tourist area. The food there is okay.
Tantuni (Turkish Meat Sandwich)
Tantuni Rüstem Paşa, Yeni Cami Cd. No:39, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul
Beef Tantuni Rating: 8.5
This place specializes in Tantuni (Turkish sandwich). They offer both chicken and beef sandwiches. I ordered the beef. It was pretty good.
Kunafe (Turkish Sweet)
We found a Kunafe shop near Misr Carsisi (Egyptian Spice Market). We ordered Kunafe with cream. It was pretty good.
Kunafe Rating: 9
Sahlep (Hot Turkish Milk Drink)
We found this waterfront cafe in the Karakoy area of Istanbul facing the Bosphorus Straight. Whenever you see these golden dispensers, you’ll normally find sahlab. Unfortunately, this one didn’t take very good at all.