Ingredient Insights: Agar, Shiratake Noodles, White Rice Flour, & Pine Nuts


Happy Sunday and welcome to the conclusion of April!

Long story short, we use quite a lot of ingredients that may or may not be foreign to some of you guys, and fully explaining the ingredients in each recipe post can be overwhelming.

Therefore, Ryan and I have decided to start doing something a lil’ different from our regularly scheduled programming. “Ingredient Insights” is basically a weekly post where we’ll explain four ingredients, including where they come from, where you can find them, and their benefits.

Along with that, we have a new project currently in the works, so you can expect new recipes every Tuesday and Friday, along with “Ingredient Insight” every Sunday!

Let’s start on our first ingredient, shall we?


Agar-Agar:

An ingredient discovered in Japan in 1658 that helps aid in digestion and weight loss, typically used as a gelatin substitute in vegan foods.

Agar-Agar, or simply Agar, comes in either flake or powder form and is beneficial as a laxative or thickener for sauces, soups, and even ice cream. It’s high in fiber, iron, and is a great source of calcium, with no sugar, fats, or carbohydrates.

As compared to gelatin, the only main differences is where the two come from and how to cook with them. Agar comes from algae, whereas gelatin is derived from collagen inside animals’ skin and bones. When cooking agar, you must bring whatever you put it into to a boil to allow solids to dissolve, as compared to gelatin, which can be easily dissolved in warm liquids. You can find agar in places like Whole Foods, specialty groceries, and of course, the internet.

We’ve used Agar Agar in this recent recipe!


Shiratake Noodles:

Derived from the Konjac plant comes a ketogenic pasta replacement called Shiratake or “Miracle Noodles.”

These low carb noodles help improve gut health by feeding friendly gut bacteria, consisting of 97% water and 3% of a fiber that’s rarely found in western cultures called Glucomannan.

Glucomannan expands very rapidly, up to 50 times its weight in water, which is why after eating a small serving of Shiratake noodles, your stomach feels satisfied. You can easily find these noodles in most Asian grocery stores and Whole Foods. Albeit, they tend to be more affordable at Oriental markets.

You can find these noodz in our Toasted Sesame Noodle Stir-Fry!


White Rice Flour:

Oh, white rice flour, one of our favorite ingredients recently. Made from finely milled rice, this flour is perfect for those who avoid wheat and gluten and it’s a great thickening agent for things like soups, sauces, and gravy, since it prevents liquid separation.

White rice flour contains choline, which helps transport cholesterol and triglycerides from the liver to wherever they’re needed in the body, therefore, enhancing liver function.

Because white rice doesn’t contain the bran or hull of the grain, white rice flour is a lectin-free food.

Bob’s Red Mills is the brand we typically use, but you could also find it in Asian groceries, natural food stores, or if you have a high-powered blender you could make your own!

Check out these chocolate chip cookies and our fluffy vanilla funfetti cupcakes!


Pine nuts:

Contained within pine trees’ female cones are pine nuts (about three per cone), which are super calorie-rich seeds that are full of antioxidants & are a perfect source of magnesium.

Low levels of magnesium in the body can lead to fatigue, but one-half cup of pine nuts equals nearly half of the daily recommended amount of magnesium.

Pine nuts also contain pinolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that triggers release of hunger-suppressant enzymes in the gut, and, just like almonds, both are an excellent source of vitamin E.

You can find pine nuts in most major grocery stores, but be warned, they’re pretty pricey due to the way they’re cultivated, but once you look past the price, they’re definitely worth it – hello delicious pesto!


We hope you guys enjoyed this ‘lil infomatical (is that even a word?). As we said, you can expect a post of similar fashion every Sunday!

Warmly,
Kimberly

 

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