Ingredient Insights: Peaches, Cassava, Monk Fruit, Allulose


It’s SUNDAYYYYY SMACKDOWNNNNN!
And by “smackdown” I mean Ingredient Insights.
I’m about to smack down some ingredients!
Not literally.
Or literally… into mixing bowls and pans, ya know?
Actually, scratch that – that was a terrible idea.
Don’t smack down cassava flour; you’ll end up with a very white countertop and lots of sadness.

[in a youtube vlogger voice] Welcome back to Ingredient Insights, where I’ll be breaking apart four ingredients for you guys (also not literally)! I feel like I’ve explained this enough in previous posts so let’s get familiar!

Pssst, there’s a fun recipe coming this Friday and it involves all of these ingredients!


Peaches:

Let’s start off with a banger: peaches and nectarines are basically the same fruit – there’s only one difference and it’s the skin.

Peach = fuzz
Nectarines = no fuzz

Now that that’s settled, time to dive into a world full of peaches!

This summer-growing fruit is actually a member of the rose family, and get this, the peach is a close relative of almonds. Say whaaaaattttt! You’ve probably heard of Georgia being known as the “Peach State,” which may drive you to think that Georgia is where this velvety fruit came from, but really, it originated in China. China is the largest producer of peaches, but the reason why Georgia was given this title was because, back in 1995, they were the second largest producer of high quality peaches.

Isn’t it funny how in China, the peach symbolizes immortality and longevity, whereas anywhere else, the peach – especially the emoji – is a symbolization of da booty?!

Here’s another funny thing that contradicts each other: it’s recommended that you consume peaches earlier in the day because of the way its sugar is processed, which has a strong correlation between nighttime consumption and a higher BMI & body weight. Yet, eating peaches is also recommended for those who have insomnia because it helps relieve any sort of stress, anxiety, and basically overall restores calmness to your mind.

Aside from that, there’s way more to peaches that you’ve never even realized. For one, peaches are great as a detoxifier – they’ll help flush out harmful toxins from your liver and kidneys in no time! They’re also a huge provider of beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body (helloooo clearer eyesight!!), and vitamin C.

If you’re worried about blood pressure, peaches are the way to go – they’ll help balance it out, along with helping boost your cardiac health.

Last but not least, antioxidants, antioxidants, ANTIOXIDANTS. Peaches are strong in fighting off diseases and getting rid of free radicals in the body. Just don’t always throw out the skin. The skin is actually where most of the antioxidants are!

It’s time for peaches to shine this summer, so head over to your local farmers market (grocery stores are okay too) and grab yourself a couple of sweet ol’ peaches for you and a friend!


Cassava:

Cassava: a magical ingredient that does well in pretty much every diet. No matter if you’re vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, or simply enjoy food, cassava flour is a nice place to start when it comes to baking. This whole food flour is often used as a 1:1 replacement for wheat flour; it’s neutral in flavor, powdery, and not grainy or gritty in texture.

A lot of times, cassava flour and tapioca flour/starch are confused with each other… They’re different. Tapioca is the starch extracted FROM the cassava root, whereas, cassava flour consists of peeling, drying, and grounding up the entire root.

I’ll get back to cassava flour in a bit, but let’s talk about the cassava root itself. Now, what is cassava? It’s a high-carbohydrate, starchy tuber – just like yams or taro – that have been a food staple to those in South America, Asia, and Africa for hella years. In stores, you’ll probably see that a cassava root is labeled as “Yuca” or “Manioc,” although, I’ve never come across it being labeled/called Manioc.

Fun fact: per 100 grams, cassava has doubled the amount of calories & carbohydrates as sweet potatoes!

Now back to cassava flour! I’ve found that cassava flour is lighter and absorbs more liquids than all-purpose flour, so if you’re trying out something new with flour replacements, be cautious of how much you use. And to clear the air, I’ve been reading articles that state that cassava flour is poisonous, and it’s not. Yes, cassava root contains naturally occurring cyanide compounds, which can be pretty damn toxic, but only if it’s eaten raw! Traditional cultures have processes that are centuries old to rid of these toxins by soaking, cooking, and fermenting. The cassava flour you’d find in stores will not contain harmful levels of cyanide (thanks FDA!).

This is our go-to brand of cassava flour, which could be found in health grocery stores like Whole Foods. Or you could simply purchase it online! Fair warning: it’s a bit pricey.


Monk Fruit:

It’s 2018 and there are new sweeteners on the rise – that’s right, move over, agave! You’ve had your chance to shine!

Currently, a new wave of zero-calorie sugars have been taking over many major grocery stores’ shelves: xylitol in gums, stevia in sodas, erythritol in ketchup… the list goes on. One sweetener that may sound unfamiliar to you is monk fruit, which seems new to us, but really, it’s been around since the 13th century. Crazy, huh?

Let’s dig into what this fruit is first.
A monk fruit, or luo han guo, is a small green gourd, kinda like a melon, that’s grown on vines in Southeast Asia. The Chinese have been using dried monk fruit as an anti-diabetic medication and medicinal tea loooong before it was ever known as a sweetener. They’ve even used monk fruit to help cure a cold or help with digestive problems. And guess who first discovered it… Did you guess monks? Because you’re right – it was monks.

Now, how the heck is monk fruit a zero-calorie sweetener if it’s a fruit?! Good question. Monk fruit is actually not sweet because of natural sugars like most fruits, but instead, it contains mogrosides, a chemical compound and strong antioxidant that metabolizes differently by the body than natural sugars, thus, having no effect on blood sugar or calorie count. Monk fruit even helps lower glucose levels in the body and it has the ability to secrete body insulin more efficiently!

The sweeteners are made from the fruit’s extract, which can be found as a liquid, a powder, or as a granules form. Be aware that, just like stevia, monk fruit can be 150 – 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Although most times, when you find monk fruit in grocery stores, it’s mixed in with other sugar substitutes, such as dextrose, stevia, or erythritol, resulting in a less natural product.

If you like curry, you’re going to LOVE our panang curry recipe, which we’ve used monk fruit sweetener in! Or if you enjoy green curry more, we gotchu fam!


Allulose:

All-u-who?!
Yeah, it’s new to us too.

Ryan and I attended Eat. Drink. Vegan. last month and came across a company who sells/creates all sorts of sweeteners and products that use those sweeteners and we were shocked to find something that we’ve never seen or heard of before. This is where allulose comes into play.

Allulose, also known as D-psicose, is a monosaccharide classified as a “rare sugar,” because it’s naturally found in only some foods: wheat, jackfruit, figs, and raisins. It contains the same chemical formula as fructose, but it’s arranged differently in structure, which prevents the body from processing allulose the way it processes fructose.

Good news:

  • allulose doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels
  • it tastes and feels like sugar (but it’s only ~70% as sweet as sugar)
  • it contains 10% of the calories of sugar
  • about 70% of it is excreted when you pee
  • no health risks have been found yet

Bad news:

  • allulose is derived from GMO corn when sold or used commercially
  • that’s it…. for now

Even though allulose was first found in wheat more than 70 years ago, studies on it and how it affects the human body are quite lacking, since scientists have only been testing it on mice for a period of 18 months (yeah I’m not too happy about that either).

If you’re curious to try allulose, I’d recommend a brand called Health Garden. Although, I’m still doing more research on it, so stay tuned!


Like I’ve said, fun recipe coming up on Friday.

Mark your calendars, we’re ending the month with a banger!

See ya next week!
Kimberly

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