Arrowroot and kudzu are high-quality starches that will add amazing texture and taste to your gluten-free cooking. They help thicken gravy and soups, make great sauces, and creamy puddings and desserts. They are much better than cornstarch which is not a healthy ingredient.
I’m happy I discovered these healthy superfoods in my macrobiotic (grain-based diet) days. I used to cook with cornstarch like most people.
Don’t Use Cornstarch If You Can Help It
Most commercial products and recipes use cornstarch because it is inexpensive and readily available. The problem with cornstarch is:
- It is often difficult to digest and it can irritate the digestive system.
- Corn is one of the most genetically modified foods on the market.
- Cornstarch is a very highly processed carbohydrate with no protein, vitamins or minerals. It is made from the tiny white endosperm at the center of a corn kernel. The corn kernels are processed utilizing chemicals and high heat to remove outside shells to get it into a fine white powder.
Think about the other white foods like white rice, white flour, and white sugar; they are often highly processed, with little nutrition or health benefits. They are what you will find all around the world, providing easy and tasty calories. But, if you’re seeking a diet lower in calories and higher in nutrition, these ingredients are not your best bet.
Also, white flour is used to make gravies and helps hold the cake together. Problem is that it is gluten and many cannot tolerate gluten. And white flour has no nutrients, just calories.
One in every 133 people of the western population is suffering from celiac disease and the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center estimates 97% of those with Celiac Disease remain undiagnosed.
Wow! In our own testing, we find that over 80% of the people we test are gluten sensitive.
Read my article on The 9 Dangers of Common Gluten-Free Recipes And Products.
Arrowroot and kudzu are produced in a simple, natural process, unlike the way cornstarch and potato starch are highly processed.
What is Arrowroot?
Arrowroot is a fine powder; it is an odorless, granular starch used in the food industry as a thickener and as a stabilizing agent.
I use arrowroot in everything from my puddings and gravies to cakes and cookies because:
- Arrowroot is closer to a whole food because less processing is involved.
- It is easily digested and even helps settle an upset stomach.
- Once cooked it is clear, shiny and translucent instead of cloudy.
Arrowroot Health Benefits
Treatment For Diarrhea In Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients
In a study, 11 people with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome took 2 teaspoons of arrowroot 3 times a day.
“Arrowroot reduced diarrhea and had a long-term effect on constipation. It also eased abdominal pain.” ~ Department of Gastroenterologist, Leicester General Hospital, U.K.
Helpful for Weight Loss
Arrowroot is a 32% resistant starch, which is undigestable by your body. Resistant starches act as the soluble fiber in your gut. Acute ingestion of resistant starch reduces food intake in healthy adults.
“In a study in 20 adults, those who took supplements containing 1.5 ounces (48 grams) of resistant starch experienced a significantly lower calorie intake over the next 24 hours, compared with a control group.” ~ University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey
Helpful for a Gluten-Free Diet
It is naturally gluten-free and can be used as a substitute for wheat flour. Often used as a thickener in gravies and puddings as a gluten-free replacement for wheat flour.
Here is a great arrowroot for you:
Arrowroot Flour Organic – Kate Natural: USDA Certified organic arrowroot powder, Gluten-Free, Non-Gmo & Grain-FREE – Kate’s arrowroot powder/starch is a perfect healthy choice for anyone on a Paleo diet.
- Very low in calories; less than that of a potato or yam
- It contains good levels of B-complex (niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin).
- Arrowroot contains moderate levels of some minerals (copper, iron, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc).
- Excellent source of potassium (454 mg per 100g or 10% of RDA).
Arrowroot as Medicine
- Arrowroot got its name because it was originally used by the Mayans and Caribbeans to treat the wounds from poison arrows.
- They grew it for food and for its healing properties as far back as the 1600’s. Later the Europeans learned of this and continued this practice.
- Historically it was fed to children and people with fragile digestive systems.
Arrowroot is made from the roots of a tropical plant called arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea). The arrowroot plant is a close cousin of the kudzu plant. Both grow naturally in the Southern United States and Asia and are used in similar ways for cooking.
Kudzu (Pueraria root) is Better
Kudzu, also known as kuzu, is made from the root of the kudzu plant that grows wild in the mountains of Japan and in southern U.S. Kudzu strengthens the digestive tract.
It is native to Japan and China where it has been used for over 2,000 years medicinally and as a starchy food.
Kudzu Health Benefits
Helps Treat Alcoholism
It has been used for more than 1,000 years by Asian herbalists for alcoholism and to curb alcohol cravings.
A study with seventeen men, ages between 21-33 years who were drinking 27.6 ± 6.5 drinks/week were in a study with kudzu.
“kudzu extract significantly reduced the number of drinks consumed each week by 34-57 %, reduced the number of heavy drinking days, and significantly increased the percent of days abstinent and the number of consecutive days of abstinence.” ~ Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory/MIC, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA
May Help Relieve Cluster Headaches
There are many who have headaches that take over-the-counter (OTC) kudzu extract for relief so a study was created at Yale University School of Medicine.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that a component in OTC products labeled as kudzu may prove useful in managing cluster headache.” ~ Yale University School of Medicine.
According to Research in Beijing, China for Kudzu:
- It can decrease LDL cholesterol.
- Anti-cardio-cerebrovascular disease.
- Protect human liver function.
- Enhances immunity.
- It is 20:1 Concentrated Extract
- Highest Grade Source – Potent, Pure & Effective!
- Non-GMO (grown and processed without pesticides or chemicals)
- Tested for Mold, Yeast, Bacteria, Heavy Metals, Chemicals & Pesticides
Michio Kushi, Macrobiotic Founder Recommends Kudzu:
- To treat digestive and intestinal issues such as indigestion and colitis, bacterial infection and abdominal pain.
- For colds.
- To relieve tiredness and restore vitality.
Possible Side Effects
Those with breast cancer and anyone using diabetes medications should avoid kudzu. Also, do not take kudzu or arrowroot if you take methotrexate or tamoxifen.
- Only 33 calories in 1 tablespoon (0.4 oz) of Kudzu Root Starch, dry.
- Rich in organic iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
- It has a significantly high flavonoid content.
Caution in Growing Kudzu
It grows very well; the vines grow as much as a foot per day during the summer. They climb trees, power poles, and anything they can grow vertically on. Kudzu vines can grow sixty feet in one year. The vines can also destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting sunlight. In 1972 the USDA declared kudzu to be a weed!
Arrowroot and Kudzu are more expensive than cornstarch and other starches but the benefits are well worth it.
Cooking Tips With Arrowroot and Kudzu
Both have a neutral flavour and will not give a starchy taste to your recipes as corn starch does. Also, they will create shine and translucence, which is great in fruit pie fillings and fruit sauces. I always have both in my kitchen but tend to use more arrowroot because it is more affordable.
- It can be used for thickening sauces, gravies, puddings, etc.
- Dissolve in cool water, usually 1 tablespoon per arrowroot/kudzu to 2 tablespoons liquid, and mix well, then stir slowly into whatever sauce or dish you are cooking. You will see the liquid start to thicken (thickens at lower temperatures than cornstarch). Continue to stir and let cook for at least five minutes.
- Substitute 2 teaspoons of arrowroot or kudzu for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
- Substitute 1 teaspoon of arrowroot for 1 tablespoon of flour in recipes.
- If you don’t mix the arrowroot well, it can have a chalky aftertaste. Stir it in slowly and thoroughly while cooking.
- Good to use in baking in small quantities in place of any other starches.
Caution: DO NOT use 40 – 50 percent in baking recipes as some of the gluten-free websites are suggesting! It is a starch, so I recommend using very little.
Puddings Made With Arrowroot or Kudzu
Sweet Prune Fruit Pudding with Custard is Delicious – This prune fruit pudding made with the fruit compote is so delicious. What makes this pudding so special is being topped with the vegan custard. Also, what I really like about it is that there is no sugar added.
Pumpkin Pudding Is Vegan, Gluten-free and Delicious – This pumpkin pudding tastes great by itself or you can also put it in your favorite pie crust making ‘Pumpkin Pie’. What I love about it is that it is vegan and that means no cow’s milk. Also, it is refined sugar-free and full of delicious superfoods. Pumpkin is the main superfood in this recipe which is full of health benefits. Also, it is easy to make.
Delicious Vegan Banana Pudding: This vegan banana pudding is a very healthy dessert and it is so yummy. Like all the recipes on this site, it has no added refined sugar. This makes it quick and easy to add dessert to the menu for dinner tonight.
Two Gravy Recipes Made With Arrowroot or Kudzu
Vegan Onion Gravy is Delicious – This onion gravy is a wonderful delicious addition to any vegetarian meal. Sometimes our vegetables or veggie burger are extra tasty with a little gravy. I love that it is vegan too. It really is easy to make too.
Baking with Arrowroot or Kudzu In Them
Pear Upside-Down Cake – This pear upside-down cake is so delicious and it is gluten-free, vegan which means it is dairy & egg-free. It is made with very healthy ingredients. Pears grow in Edmonton! They are small but they are tasty and juicy. A friend lets me pick bags full of pears from his big tree. Thus, I get to make this very yummy gluten-free cake made with healthy ingredients.
Apple Cake with Cinnamon – This is a deeply satisfying cake filled with healthy ingredients. This apple cake is gluten-free, vegan and without all that white sugar which is my kind of cake. The only sweeteners in it are a little rice syrup and stevia which is actually food for us. It is also egg-free and dairy-free too which is important as eggs and milk are not good for me. And it is delicious.
Gluten-Free Vegan Shortbread Cookies with Pecans – These gluten-free vegan shortbread cookies are awesomely delicious! They even melt in your mouth like regular shortbread and they are vegan too. I was determined to keep out the unhealthy starches, adding only a little healthy arrowroot and of course no white sugar.
Cornmeal Muffins are Delicious and Gluten-Free – Cornmeal muffins are yummy and full of healthy ingredients and also gluten and egg-free. You will be amazed at how sweet they are since there is no added sugar! This recipe uses chickpea flour, one of the many egg substitutes you could choose from. I started making these muffins many many years ago and still look forward to a batch of them.
Wild Blueberry Grain-Free Crumble is Tasty and Good for You – This is a delicious wild blueberry grain-free crumble meaning it is gluten-free too. It is a very healthy recipe and is also refined sugar-free. What inspired this recipe was that my sister was coming for her birthday dinner and I wanted to have a very healthy dessert to serve.
If you REALLY want to learn to bake healthy gluten-free foods, I suggest my Healthy Baking Course. In one weekend you will get the knowledge and experience to produce sinfully delicious AND healthy deserts – from the comfort of your home.
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Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.