Odd ingredients?

All this allergy-friendly cooking often involves unusual ingredients from the health food store, so on this page I will provide some explanatory notes. I’ll try to update this page periodically. The italicized names in parentheses are Norwegian translations.

Agar agar – A vegan substitute for gelatin, which sets in a firmer and less squiggly way. It is derived from a Japanese seaweed. I have only ever used it in powder form, but it does exist as sticks or flakes. Other than being vegan, its advantage over gelatin is that it will set at room temperature. This also means it will not melt by lunchtime in a bento box. You cook it with the liquid of your choice for a few minutes in order to activate it.

Buckwheat flour — a healthy gluten-free flour. I use it for breads and pancakes. Available in well-stocked supermarkets or health food stores. (bokhvetemel)

Buckwheat groats — whole, unroasted buckwheat grains. Get in a health food store. (bokhvetekorn?)

Chia seed – a somewhat fashionable health food from South America. It is one of the richest vegetarian sources of omega-3, I am told. Much like flax meal, ground chia seeds mixed with water can be used as egg replacer because they turn into a sticky, gooey mass. So they are a good vegan binder. Chia seeds will also turn sticky and glue-y if soaked in water whole, unlike flax seeds. You can make a sort of raw porridge like that (chiafrø)

Chickpea flour – a truly magic ingredient. A yellow flour made from ground-up chickpeas. Most easily available in South Asian markets as “besan” or “gram flour”. Great for pancakes and vegan “omelettes”. I think it works best in savory baking.

Coconut flour – A gluten-free flour with an extremely high fiber content. Can be used most successfully on its own if paired with an enormous amount of eggs. In vegan recipes, it seems to work best if used as a small proportion of the flour blend.

Flax meal — ground flax seeds. Grid your own or buy it ready ground. Keep in the fridge, as it may go bad due to the fat content. Very high in fiber, and useful as an egg replacement (1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg). (malte linfrø)

Millet flour — a fine, yellow flour made from millet. Goes bad easily, store in the fridge or freezer. A nutritious gluten-free flour. Available in some health food stores. (hirsemel)

Nutritional yeast — thin deactivated yeast flakes, sold by the bag, which are often used by vegans and vegetarians to add a “cheesy” flavor to things. Really tasty on popcorn. I use it to make vegan “mac and cheese” and tofu scrambles. (næringsgjær? tror det er dette)

Sweet rice flour — A white flour made from sweet/glutinous/sticky rice, which is the kind of rice often used in Asian desserts. The grains are more opaque in color than normal rice. The most common brand of such flour is Koda Farms Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour, which can also be used to make mochi.

2 responses to “Odd ingredients?

  1. I had not heard of nutritional yeast until I moved across the pond, but I agree, it is so tasty on popcorn. I do have problems getting it to stick to my popcorn though, any tips on that?

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