Noodle bowls are more than just delicious, fork-twirling fun. This recipe, in particular, is all about the sesame-peanut sauce that’s both super easy and ready to go with just your regular pantry ingredients.
There’s also an added pop of fermented goodness for good measure!
If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you definitely can’t eat regular pasta. Udon noodles, another Japanese noodle, are also off-limits since they’re made from wheat too.
Thankfully, soba noodles are a great, nutrient-rich, wheat-free option for anyone who needs to avoid gluten. You just need to make sure that your soba noodles of choice contain 100 percent buckwheat flour, which means there’s no added wheat flour. It’s really important not to assume all soba noodles are gluten-free so read those ingredient labels carefully.
Surprisingly, buckwheat is not wheat or even related to wheat. Buckwheat is actually an ancient grain that provides consumers with amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When you buy purely buckwheat soba noodles, they’re not just free of gluten, they also provide some really desirable health benefits!
What are soba noodles exactly? They’re noodles made from buckwheat flour that are commonly used in Japanese cuisine. With their rich, earthy flavor, buckwheat noodles make any recipe that much more satisfying and flavorful.
5 Healthy Reasons to Love Soba Noodles
1. Prebiotic – Essentially, prebiotics become nutrient sources, or “fuel,” for the beneficial bacteria that live within your gut. A 2003 animal study demonstrated that buckwheat can likely be considered a prebiotic food. (1) Research has shown that higher intakes of prebiotic foods can increase numerous probiotic microorganisms, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, L. reuteri, bifidobacteria, and certain strains of L. casei or the L. acidophilus-group. (2)
2. Varicose Vein Reduction – Soba noodles are rich in rutin, which is a biflavonoid that may support vein walls and help them work better, making soba noodles a great food choice for varicose vein avoidance and reduction. (3)
3. Rich in Protein – Just two ounces of 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles contain over eight grams of protein. (4) Soba noodles are an awesome non-animal source of protein for everyone but especially vegetarians and vegans. Protein help increase energy, maintain as well as build new muscle mass, and promote longevity, among other major health benefits.
4. Decrease Heart Disease and Stroke Risk A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effect of eating buckwheat on heart disease risk factors. Buckwheat was found to lower both total serum cholesterol as well as LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Buckwheat intake was also associated with a higher ratio of HDL (“good”) to total cholesterol. (5)
5. Better for Blood Sugar – Even though soba noodles contain a significant amount of carbohydrates per serving, their high fiber and protein content help slow down the digestion of the carbohydrates, which is essential for normal blood sugar. Studies have even shown that buckwheat has potential to be used in the design of foods with lower glycemic index properties. (6)
For the Sesame Sauce:
- Make the sesame sauce: In a food processor, combine the peanut butter, water, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and salt. Pulse until mostly smooth, then stir in the sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.
- Make the Noodles: Next, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Heat a large skillet with a little oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until barely golden brown on the outside. Add about one-third of the sesame sauce to the chicken with a little water to thin it out. It might splatter, so turn down the heat at this point and have a lid ready. Let the chicken finish cooking in the sauce for a few minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, let cool slightly, and shred.
- Add the remaining sauce, cucumber, cilantro, fermented carrots, and shredded chicken to the noodles and toss to combine. Serve warm or cold.