There are two items that come to mind when you realize you should no longer consume gluten: bread and noodles. Americans have a love affair with both of them (I know I did!), so there's a real sense of loss when you think you can no longer eat some of your favorite dishes.

Fear no more. There are some beautiful gluten-free noodle options that will give you back the freedom to enjoy a wide variety of pasta dishes again. 

Black bean spaghetti: Noodles can be made out of a wide variety of ingredients, so let’s start with one of the more unusual noodle options. While Asians have long used bean-based noodles, this type of noodle is just starting to get wide acceptance in America. One of the happy results of that trend is that you can now find black bean spaghetti in a wide variety of stores. I’ve seen it locally at a high-end grocery store, and others have mentioned seeing it at Costco. This spaghetti has a good texture, is made only with black beans and is high in protein! You can use it in Asian-style dishes, but it's versatile enough to be used in Italian-styled dishes as well. 

Mung bean noodles: Another common bean-based noodle is mung bean noodles. I typically find these only at Asian stores, and they are very pale, often thin noodles that work especially well in Asian dishes. 

Rice noodles: Probably the most common gluten-free noodles are rice based noodles. There are Asian-style rice noodles easily found at Asian stores and many grocery stores made from white rice, and many different brands are making Italian-style noodles from brown and white rice. I can find these at almost any grocery store. Some brands tend to fall part or are fragile if overcooked in the least, so be careful to watch them closely. They have a mild flavor and will pair well with your favorite marinara sauce. 

Buckwheat noodles: My family loves Japanese food, and buckwheat noodles are a favorite. You have to watch out for gluten in buckwheat noodles, however, as most brands use a mix of buckwheat and wheat. However, there are several brands of gluten-free buckwheat noodles that are perfect for Japanese soups and cold salads. Just make sure you read the package ingredients (and you can also read specific brand recommendations here). 

Quinoa and corn noodles: Another favorite gluten-free noodle that I enjoy is Ancient Harvest's quinoa noodles. They have a mild flavor, taste very much like a regular noodle, and hold up well. I prefer these quinoa noodles when I'm making an Italian dishes.

Vegetable noodles: Did you know that you can make your own “noodles” out of vegetables? They are a fun way to get your vegetables in, are often low-carb and make a perfect vehicle for rich sauces. Using a spiralizer will make this process simple and fast (I talk about that here), but you can also use a vegetable peeler, and then slice the peeled vegetables into thin threads for “noodles.” Vegetables commonly used include zucchini, carrots and root vegetables. 

Those are some of my favorite gluten-free noodle options. I’d love to hear about yours! 

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Related on MNN: 

Black bean spaghetti and other tasty gluten-free options
You can still enjoy a wide variety of pasta dishes while following a special diet with these suggestions.