We love pasta, but we don't love simple carbs. Whole grain pasta bumps up the fiber and grain goodness, but some people still fret over the calories.

Shirataki noodles may be the answer. They're ancient and Asian, made with yam flour (konnyaku) and sometimes tofu, with no fat, gluten or preservatives, and -- get this -- practically no calories.

If a no-calorie noodle isn't miracle enough, shirataki's yam flour contains glucommanan, a cholesterol buster that aids digestion and keeps glucose levels from spiking.

Shirataki means "white waterfall," and the noodles do indeed spill from the package, already cooked and suspended in a mineral lime bath. When you open the bag, the smell stops you in your tracks, but it vanishes after copious rinsing.

The noodles have a neutral taste and are pleasingly filling. What's not pleasing is the rubbery, sauce-repelling texture. They work best in stir-fries and soups.

>Shirataki Stir-fry

2 teaspoons canola or peanut oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks

2 scallions, sliced

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 rib celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

1 cup shredded cabbage

4 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey or agave

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 (8-ounce) package shirataki, rinsed well and drained

In a large skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high. Add garlic, ginger and scallions; stir-fry about 2 minutes, until vegetables soften.

Add carrots, celery and bell pepper; stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage and tofu; cook a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce with vinegar, honey and sesame oil. Pour over vegetables and tofu; stir gently. Add shirataki and toss. Cook a few more minutes, until the sauce is mostly absorbed. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 189 calories (48 percent from fat), 10.1 g fat, 1.2 g saturated, 4.6 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 7.5 g protein, 15.8 g carbohydrates, 4.2 g fiber, 1,070 mg sodium.