October 28, 2011

They're so good, but is there anything in those rice sticks?

Yesterday I posted photos of the fast dinners I enjoyed the two previous evenings, and here is last night's variation. This one-bowl meal contained tempeh, cauliflower, carrots, peas, and dried shiitake mushrooms, with a black sesame seed garnish. I used the broth from soaking the mushrooms to make a miso-mustard sauce,* and once again, served the tempeh and veggies over rice stick noodles. This dish took a little longer to make than the other two — probably because the carrot needed peeling and grating, the mushrooms needed soaking, and, even though it was a long time ago, I'm still not fully recovered from the black worm incident. I know, I'm unreasonably squeamish, but I spent a long time inspecting every little black thing before I could slice the mushrooms.

I do love Asian rice noodles, but yesterday's post got me thinking about the nutritional value of my quick dinners, specifically, whether or not the rice noodles were more than just filling — I know the veggies I top them with are nutritious, but what about the noodles? So I did a little nutrition panel comparison with four different starchy foods — three kinds of noodles, and brown rice. I looked at my beloved rice sticks, buckwheat pasta, a more traditional brown rice elbow pasta and actual brown rice. Because I'm comparing foods that are relatively quick to make, I chose Trader Joe's frozen brown rice, which is surprisingly good, reasonably economical, and very fast and convenient. (The rice comes in a cardboard box with three 10 ounce packets, and each packet serves two. We keep it around for "emergencies.")

All four foods are low in salt, fat and sugar, similar in total carbohydrates, and gluten-free (though the brown rice and rice sticks don't state that on the label). None are particularly high sources of protein by themselves, but with added protein such as tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts or seeds, would be fine. I don't really worry about protein anyway. The fiber ranges from zero in the rice noodles to 3g in the soba. The calories range from 160 for the brown rice to 210 for the Tinkyada — not a big enough difference to sway my choice.

Now that I've done my homework, will I change my choices? The total lack of fiber in the rice sticks concerns me a little, but probably not, though maybe I should opt for the buckwheat soba or the brown rice more often than the rice sticks — variety is probably the key. What do you think?

(The Tinyada elbows also noted daily values of Thiamin/B1 15%, Riboflavin/B2 0%, Niacin/B3 15%, Folic acid 0%. The Eden buckwheat soba label further broke down the fats as Omega 3, 26mg, Omega 6, 390mg, omega 9, 411mg, and included Potassium, 200mg or 6%, Phosphorus 20%, zinc 6%. Since these values were not listed on all labels, it's hard to use them to compare the four products.)

Note: *When I looked at my comments this morning, I saw that blessedmama had left a note that when she gets to the "nothing to eat" stage she's usually looking at mustard and miso. That gave me a laugh, since it's exactly what I used for last night's sauce!


My theme this week is supposed to be videos depicting the sensitivities of animals, and the relationships we humans have with them. Here's a video of a rescued cow being reunited with her baby. The humans aid in the reunion, but not as companions to the cow and her babe.


You may have noticed the Rabbit Food Cookbook blog tour happening this week on a blog near you. The "tour" officially started Monday, and will hit this blog on Oct. 30, with a review of The Rabbit Food Cookbook, and a giveaway. Here is a schedule so you can follow along during the week—hopefully discovering some great new blogs, and entering giveaways to win a copy of the book!

October 25—Cook Vegan Lover
October 26—Bake and Destroy
October 27—Carrie on Vegan
October 28—Vegancraftastic
October 29—Manifest Vegan
October 31—Vegansaurus


  1. That video brought tears to my eyes! It was hard to see the baby fall from weakness, but so wonderful that they were reunited. <3

    We usually get whole grain noodles & pasta, but I don't mind rice noodles every once in a while.

  2. Wonderful video...so happy for them. Of course it got me bawling.

    I remember that black worm incident when you posted about it before and I never buy dried mushrooms because I always remember that.

    Another tantalizing bowl of noodles and veggies. I wouldn't worry about the fiber thing...all those veggies and tempeh have plenty I'm sure.

  3. Molly,
    I wanted to pick the poor baby up and get him to his mother faster. It's sad to think about all the cows who aren't rescued, and who have their babies taken away.

    We usually buy whole grains, too, except for the rice noodles, although I just read Annie Chun makes rice sticks from brown rice. I think WF may have them.

    Oh no. You shouldn't let the worm incident stop you — haven't seen a single one since then, and we use dried shiitaki a lot. Did I ever tell you about the dried oregano? ... never mind.

  4. Oh, man, I did not need to read the mushroom story, ha! :) Mushrooms already freak me out a little, much like tempeh. I like the taste of them, and I use them every chance I get for the nutrition, but I'm always skeptical of them being moldy or something. I guess it's the whole fungus word.

    We raised baby calves when I was little, and it was always horrifying for me to listen to them the first nights without their Mommas. I can't bear it.

  5. I wish there was an "undo" button from having read the black worm incident link. Thank you for not posting pictures.

    P.S. I have emergencies that require those frozen brown rice packets in my house too!

  6. Jenny,
    Fungus doesn't conjure up good images, does it?

    I can't bear listening to the mama and baby in the video. I can't imagine what it would be like to hear them in person.

    You're welcome. I just went back and re-read it, and I was laughing pretty hard. It's gross, but funny, right? It has left a lasting mark upon my relationship with shiitake mushrooms. I still use them, but very, very carefully.

    It's always good to be prepared for emergencies. That's what freezers are for.

  7. What a liberating post. I'm like you, I have a mental block with eating white starchy foods, though of course like everyone else on this planet, I love them. But for some reason I've never done this kind of comparison, so thank you! How interesting that the actual nutritional profile isn't much different among them, except for the fiber. And, Andrea, judging by the kinds of foods you post, getting enough fiber shouldn't be a blip that even hits your radar. Me, I'm trying to find ways to cut *down* on the amount of fiber in my diet. So, heh, white rice, white pasta, yeah, bring it on!

  8. Zoa,
    There may be differences that don't show up on the labels when you compare whole grains with stripped white ones, and I prefer whole ones, but I don't think I can abandon my rice sticks. I'm going to look into Annie Chung's brown rice noodles. :)

    I've never heard of someone trying to cut down on fiber, but I suppose too much of even a good thing isn't good, as they say. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the fiber issue, as you promised to talk about it at some point. Right?

  9. Right. In my current incarnation, I am living proof that you can, in fact, have too much fiber in your diet. How I love vegetables! Anyway, yes, once a little more initial research is done, I will definitely be posting on this issue!

  10. Zoa,
    Looking forward to it.

    Thanks. It was very tasty if I do say so myself.

  11. If you're still a little freaked out about dried mushrooms, you can always use fresh ones from a farmers market. The flavor is not as intense but still good. The no fiber in rice noodles doesn't seem like a big deal if you're also eating plenty of leafy greens with it, which is what I do. :-)

  12. Chow vegan,
    I can't give up dried shiitakes — I'm just REALLY careful. I love the fresh ones, too, but the dried are special. I didn't even know about the fiber until I did this post, but I'm not too worried. I need those noodles.

  13. I love the "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day" book. Also, the Curry Tofu and Peas sounds so delicious with the added coconut milk - wow! Thanks for sharing these treats.

  14. I love the "Eat Vegan on $4 a day" book; and thanks for the Curry Tofu and Peas. The added coconut milk sounds soooo good. Thanks.


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