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Most recipes on this site are born out of some need – really wanting cookies at the holidays, or needing to bring something to a potluck that I can also eat. This is not one of those recipes – this is entirely based on aesthetics, and while it does taste delicious… is mostly for taking fun pictures to put on instagram.
A while back, I was lazily cooking myself some shiritaki noodles (they’re a low carb vegan’s best friend!) when I threw some cabbage into the mix and ended up making what I consider to be an accidental low carb vegan masterpiece. Who doesn’t like multi-colored noodles? Unicorn noodles! So sparkle – such magic!
Another fun aspect of this, is it’s basically a science experiment that you can eat. It’s like when you made rock candy in third grade, only it won’t give you diabetes and an honorable mention in the science fair. It’s also super simple, and doesn’t take too long to make into something wonderful. Because I get that not everyone cares about why this reaction occurs, you can scroll past the recipe to get to the science!
Notes on Making Low Carb Vegan Unicorn Noodles
- You can just chop the cabbage roughly, but I like to shred it or cut it into thin strips so it’s got a more similar texture to the noodles.
- You can remove the cabbage from the noodles before plating, but it’s super good for you. So, choices.
- You can customize the flavor of this using any of the flavor combos below (or, make your own!)
- Flavor combo 1: olive oil, garlic powder, cracked pepper, lemon juice
- Flavor combo 2: sesame oil, garlic and ginger powder, red pepper flakes and rice wine vinegar
- Flavor combo 3: coconut oil, chili and garlic powder, lime juice
Vegan Keto Unicorn Noodles
To Make the Blue Noodles
- 1 package shiritaki noodles
- 1/4 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 tbsp oil see the notes for flavor recommendations
- desired seasoning
- pinch of salt
To Turn Them Pink and Purple
- vinegar or lemon/lime juice see the notes for flavor recommendations
- Basically, in a pan on medium heat, cook the shredded purple cabbage in oil with a little salt and your seasoning of choice (see notes above for options) until it softens a bit.
- Drain and rinse the shiritaki noodles, then add them to the cabbage.
- Cook these for a few minutes until the noodles turn blue (MAGIC!).
- Remove the noodles from the pan, and separate into two groups. Leave one group of noodles/cabbage the blue and purple colors they are. Drizzle a little bit of the vinegar/lemon juice over the other group to turn them purple and pink - I like to do this in kind of a tie dye pattern.
- Artfully plate both groups of noodles together, so that it looks like your dinner was magically beamed to you by your unicorn spirit guide and take ample photos.
- Also, you can eat these.
Purple cabbage contains antioxidants called anthocyanins that give it the purpley blue color. This has been used as a natural dye for hundreds of years (at least!). The shiritaki noodles are basic in terms of their pH because they’re made with calcium chloride. Calcium chloride is basically (get it??) pickling lime and has a higher pH than water, making it basic. The calcium chloride reacts with the anthocyanins in the cabbage to produce that bright blue color in the noodles.
Adding acid in (like the vinegar or citrus juice) creates another reaction with the anthocyanins, producing a lighter color. So, to turn the noodles a pink shade, add in more acid.
Not all noodles will turn blue with the cabbage – if the noodles are neutral, they’ll stay purple. So, if you want straight purple noodles, opt for ones made from rice or mung beans. These are, of course, super high in carbs and less suitable for a keto recipe. If you do choose to use a neutral noodle, you can add in a tiny bit of pickling lime to make them blue!