27.9.16

Zero calories noodles?


Most people refer to the Shirataki Noodles as the miracle noodles or the zero calorie noodles. They have been becoming quite popular lately since the rise of the low carb diet and the big ban of processed carbs from most Americans' diet.


What Are Shirataki Noodles Made Of?

Shirataki noodles come from a yam-like tuber called Devil's Tongue. Glucomannan starch is extracted from the tubers, then mixed with water and lime water to turn it into a substance called konnyaku. Konnyaku is then shredded into traditional shirataki noodles.

Sometimes other ingredients are added into shirataki noodles, like soy, and you'll see them labeled tofu or with other flavors.

They naturally don't contain any calories because the glucomannan starch they're made of is an indigestible dietary fiber and also contains no carbohydrates.

Tofu shirataki noodles will have a few calories in them, due to the addition of soy.




Where Can I Buy Shirataki Noodles?

Shirataki noodles can be found both dry and soft (cooked). The cooked shirataki noodles are easier to find and are thin, translucent, and have a gelatinous texture. The noodles have no real flavor but absorb flavors instead.

The soft shirataki noodles, packed in liquid, are usually sold in the refrigerator case with the tofu at the grocery store. As they've become more and more popular over the years, I've even found them at big chain grocery stores, like Safeway.

The best money for the buck though is on Amazon. You can buy them in bulk and save a lot of money




How to cook the miracle noodles?


The prepared shirataki noodles can be eaten as is, but the package advises draining, rinsing, and even boiling them for a few minutes if you don't like the flavor of the liquid they're packed in.

They are definitely better cooked and taste great depending on the seasoning ... etc. The liquid they come in definitely has a little taste but cooking takes care of it for sure.




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20.9.16

What is Erythritol?



Erythritol is a sugar substitute that looks and tastes like sugar, yet has almost no calories. It is available in both granulated and powdered forms.

A sugar alcohol, erythritol has been approved for use as a food additive in the United States and in many other countries. Other sugar alcohols you may have heard of include xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol and lactitol.

Used as a natural sweetener, erythritol is about 60 – 80% as sweet as sucrose (sugar). It is used primarily in chewing gum, baked goods and beverages and occurs naturally in pears, soy sauce, wine, sake, watermelon and grapes.

In fact, erythritol has even been found to exist naturally in human tissues and body fluids.


There are many different sugar alcohols. They can be found in natural foods like fruits, but they’re also added to “sugar-free” products of all sorts.

The way these molecules are structured gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on our tongues.

Common sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, to name a few. But erythritol appears to be quite a bit different than the others.

To begin with, it contains much fewer calories:


  • Table sugar: 4 calories per gram.
  • Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram.
  • Erythritol: 0.24 calories per gram.




Erythritol is great for people with metabolic issues, Diabetes and obesity. It’s really gaining popularity with the keto community thanks to its low-carb nature. Since it is not metabolized by our bodies, we can’t use it for energy. It’s simply ingested by us, and then excreted.


With only 6% of the calories of sugar, it still has 70% of the sweetness.

Due to its unique chemical structure, our bodies don’t break it down.

It goes pretty much unchanged through our system, without causing any of the harmful metabolic effects of excess sugar… or the digestive issues associated with other sugar alcohols.




Here are a few things that make erythritol a standout as a sugar alcohol.

Erythritol is:

  • Fermented – it is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in corn.
  • Heat stable up to 160 degrees C.
  • Non-caloric – While most sugar alcohols are low calorie, erythritol has zero calories.
  • Non-glycemic - Does not raise blood sugar – erythritol is considered suitable for people with diabetes because it does not raise plasma glucose or insulin levels.
  • The easiest sugar alcohol to digest – more than 90% of erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine, so minimal amounts reach the colon where other sugar alcohols end up causing diarrhea and other symptoms. Studies have shown that erythritol is even easier to digest than xylitol.
  • Noncarcinogenic– studies have shown that erythritol, like xylitol, does not have carcinogenic properties.
  • An antioxidant – erythritol helps to fight free radicals, responsible for the aging process. It is considered to be even more efficient than other sugar alcohols because it is so readily absorbed and yet not metabolized (it is excreted unchanged).
  • Erythritol has the status of generally recognized as safe (GRAS) from the FDA and is widely used in many other countries like Japan, the European Union, Mexico and Canada.


Unfortunately, erythritol is not that sweet on its own, so it’s often combined in foods and beverages with other sweeteners...sometimes artificial sweeteners like aspartame, making it less than desirable.

Also,erythritol is the most expensive of the sugar alcohols to produce. This makes it difficult for food manufacturers to use it in commercial products.



Are there any downsides?

As with all sugar alcohols, when consumed in large amounts, some people experience digestive discomfort or a slight laxative effect. Although, you would have to eat A LOT of it to experience this. Some studies have concluded that about half a gram of erythritol per body pound is well tolerated. Meaning if you weigh 150 pounds, if you eat 75g of it, you should be okay.

To put it into perspective, you would need to eat more than 18 teaspoons of this stuff to experience any issues! However, remember all bodies are different, so definitely try out small amount and see how you feel. If you already experience digestive sensitivity, take that into account as well.

A sugar alcohol that’s gotten a bad rep for causing digestive issues is maltitol, found in many Atkins and popular sugar-free treats. Maltitol has a high glycemic index (GI), despite being a sugar alcohol, and many have reported stomach discomfort.


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12.9.16

Cooking with fresh herbs




The immense diversity of scents and savors offered by herbs is more than a gift from nature – herbs have been part of human culinary habits ever since, as they can be easily found in the nature around us. Their complex taste and healing powers unite harmoniously and provide a sensation of freshness to the palate, be they used in soups, salads or other dishes.



Basil

Basil is one of the most important culinary herbs. Sweet basil, the most common type, is redolent of licorice and cloves. Basil is used in the south of France to make pistou; its Italian cousin, pesto, is made just over the border. Used in sauces, sandwiches, soups, and salads, basil is in top form when married to tomatoes, as in the famous salad from the island of Capri—Insalata Caprese, made with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and fruity olive oil.



Mint

Mint isn't just a little sprig that garnishes your dessert plate. It is extremely versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In the Mediterranean, mint is treasured as a companion to lamb, and is often used in fruit and vegetable salads. Though there are many varieties, spearmint is preferred for cooking. You can add it to a bevy of dishes and drinks—lamb, peas, carrots, ice cream, tea, mint juleps, and mojitos. Spearmint's bright green leaves are fuzzy, very different from the darker stemmed, rounded leaves of peppermint.



Rosemary

In Latin, rosemary means "dew of the sea"—appropriate since it is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Rosemary is one of the most aromatic and pungent of all the herbs. Its needlelike leaves have pronounced lemon-pine flavor that pairs well with roasted lamb, garlic, and olive oil. Rosemary is also a nice addition to focaccia, tomato sauce, pizza, and pork, but because its flavor is strong, use a light hand.



Oregano

Oregano grows wild in the mountains of Italy and Greece; its Greek name means "joy of the mountain." The Greeks love oregano sprinkled on salads, while the Italians shower it on pizza and slip it into tomato sauces. Add chopped oregano to vinaigrette, or use it in poultry, game, or seafood dishes when you want to take them in a Greek or Italian direction. Oregano and marjoram are so similar in looks and flavor that they are often confused. Oregano, however, has a more potent taste and aroma; marjoram is sweeter and more delicate. Try it out in these Oregano Recipes.



Thyme

Thyme comes in dozens of varieties; however, most cooks use French thyme. Undoubtedly thyme is one of the most important herbs of the European kitchen. What would a bouquet garni be without it? This congenial herb pairs well with many other herbs—especially rosemary, parsley, sage, savory, and oregano. Its earthiness is welcome with pork, lamb, duck, or goose, and it's much beloved in Cajun and Creole cooking. It's also the primary component of Caribbean jerk seasonings. Because the leaves are so small, they often don't require chopping. Get started with these Fresh Thyme Recipes.




Cilantro

Some call it cilantro; others call it coriander, or even Chinese parsley. Whatever you call it, chances are you either love it or hate it. This native of southern Europe and the Middle East has a pungent flavor, with a faint undertone of anise. The leaves are often mistaken for flat-leaf parsley, so read the tag. One of the most versatile herbs, cilantro adds distinctive flavor to salsas, soups, stews, curries, salads, vegetables, fish, and chicken dishes.




Parsley

No refrigerator should be without parsley. It's the workhorse of the herb world and can go in just about every dish you cook. Parsley's mild, grassy flavor allows the flavors of other ingredients to come through. Curly parsley is less assertive than its brother, flat-leaf parsley (often called Italian parsley). Flat-leaf parsley is preferred for cooking, as it stands up better to heat and has more flavor, while the more decorative curly parsley is used mostly for garnishing. Reach for either when a dish needs a little burst of color. Sprinkle a little persillade, a mixture of chopped parsley and garlic, on roasted lamb, grilled steaks, fish, chicken, and vegetables as they do in France. Add lemon or orange zest and you get gremolata, a blend used in Milanese cooking, especially as a final garnish on osso buco.




Chives

Toss chives into a dish at the last minute, because heat destroys their delicate onion flavor. Thinly slice them to maximize their taste, or use finely snipped chives as a garnish. Chives are great in dips and quesadillas, and on baked potatoes.




Dill

Since ancient Roman times, dill has been a symbol of vitality. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to provide protection against witches and was used as an ingredient in many magic potions. In the kitchen, its feathery leaves lend a fresh, sharp flavor to all kinds of foods: gravlax, cottage cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese, omelets, seafood (especially salmon), cold yogurt soups, potato salads, and all kinds of cucumber dishes (including, of course, pickles).





Sage

Sage is native to the northern Mediterranean coast, where it's used frequently in cooking. Sage's long, narrow leaves have a distinctively fuzzy texture and musty flavor redolent of eucalyptus, cedar, lemon, and mint. Italians love it with veal, while the French add it to stuffings, cured meats, sausages, and pork dishes. Americans, of course, associate it with turkey and dressing. Use it with discretion; it can overwhelm a dish.




Tarragon

Though this herb is native to Siberia and western Asia, tarragon is primarily used in France. It's often added to white wine vinegar, lending sweet, delicate licorice-like perfume and flavor. It pairs well with fish, omelets, and chicken cooked with mustard, and it's a crucial component of béarnaise sauce. Fresh tarragon isn't always easy to find, but when you get it, you'll love the bittersweet, peppery taste it imparts. Heat diminishes its flavor, so add tarragon toward the end of cooking, or use it as a garnish. A little goes a long way.








Infographic by http://www.cooksmarts.com

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