How to add more texture to your food and beverage without ruining your diet with this list of
11 healthy food thickeners
Arrowroot is starch and a popular thickener because it is gluten free and to most, considered a paleo approved flour. It has a mild flavor that does not affect the taste of your recipe. When cooking with arrowroot, you will want to add it at the end of cooking because arrowroot will break down and become watery when cooked too long. For sauces and gravies, use arrowroot by creating a slurring of equal parts flour and cold water and then mixing the slurry into your mixture at the very end. It’s great for thickening sauces and lightening up dense baked goods and can be used with acidic foods
Used to thicken: sauces, gravies, soup, fillings, puddings, baked goods
Substitution for: cornstarch, all purpose flour
Not good for: anything containing milk or dairy, reheating (it loses its thickening properties)
Although tapioca is also gluten free and is used to thicken some of the same things you use can use arrowroot flour for, tapioca is very different from arrowroot. Tapioca is a good flour for anything you will freeze and reheat later because it stays stable in cold temperatures. It’s another popular paleo flour because it is grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, seed-free, gluten-free and practically sugar-free! Tapioca is great for binding ingredients in a recipe and creates a chewy texture in baked goods. Unlike arrowroot, you can use tapioca with dairy products. You can also purchase tapioca pearls for puddings and pies, but pearls often do not completely dissolve.
Used to thicken: Sauces, gravies, glazes, soups, baked goods, puddings
Substitution for: cornstarch, wheat flour, all purpose flour
Not good for: Foods with high acidity because it loses its ability to thicken
I recently received a bag of Amaranth and didnt know what to do with it at first. It is a protein packed grain that looks like quinoa, but smaller. Unlike quinoa that absorbs water and expands when cooked, amaranth stays the same size, leaving me with almost the same amount in cups that i started with. But instead of absorbing the water, the grain turned the water into almost a goo like texture, making the grain sticky and binding it together creating more of a paste. Because of this, it has a completely different texture than quinoa when it is cooked. I originally made it as a side dish with my meat and potatoes, but ended up storing it in the refrigerator and using it in my soup the next day.
Used to thicken: Soups and stews
Cooked or steamed cauliflower can easily be blended up to create a puree. You can also use other vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and zucchini, depending on your recipe. The puree can be used as a creamy base for soups and stews or blended into a dip to make it a gluten-free, vegan alternative to traditional soup bases.
Used to thicken: Soups and stews, smoothies
Like vegetables, beans can also be pureed to use as a creamy soup base and is a great gluten free alternative making it both vegetarian and vegan. White beans are most commonly used because of the mild flavor. White beans bring the creaminess, along with thickness, without dairy or an overpowering flavor. Just like chickpeas are made to make a basic hummus, you can use chickpeas and other beans for sauces and dips.
Used to thicken: Soups, sauces, dips
Coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk or cream of coconut. While coconut water is made from simmering one part shredded coconut with one part water, coconut cream is made from simmering four parts shredded coconut with one part water. In a can of coconut cream, the top will be thicken and creamy, and the leftover water will remain at the bottom. The top thick portion is what you can use to thicken sauces, make whipped cream, frosting, and dips. The coconut flavor is mild and is not as strong and over powering as you would think. It has a pretty light and neutral flavor.
Used to thicken: whipped cream, frosting, sauces, soups
Nuts are great thickeners- think peanut butter, almond butter, tahini (made from sunflowers), and cashew butter. When soaked overnight, cashews become very soft, enabling them to be pureed and blended into a creamy texture great to use as a base for a lot of dishes. Cashews are a popular thickener used by vegan chefs. Also being a very mild nutty flavor, cashews are very versatile.
Used to thicken: Vegan cheeses, soup, sauces, dips, frosting
Chia seeds are great for thickening thin liquids like almond milk and smoothies because it absorbs liquid and creates a gelatinous texture, like amaranth, but not as sticky. The most popular use of chia seeds is chia pudding. Chia pudding is made by mixing 2 cups of milk with 1/2 cup of chia seeds and adding optional toppings like fruit. Chia is a great binding ingredient.
Used to thicken: smoothies, chia pudding, soups, jelly
Greek yogurt, thicker than traditional yogurt, can be used in many different types of recipes and replace many ingredients. Bake a cake by replacing oil and eggs with greek yogurt or replace butter in other baked goods. Naturally creamy its great for homemade salad dressing like ranch.
Used to thicken: sauces, dips, dressings, baked goods, and smoothies
You can use avocado for a lot more than just guacamole. Because of its already natural creamy texture, all you have to do with avocados is mash it up with a fork or puree it and it can become a versatile thickener.
Used to thicken: Smoothies, frosting, dips, dressings
The great thing about bananas is you can use them as it by mashing up with a fork, or frozen to create an even thicken consistency when blended. Bananas are a popular ingredient in smoothies and shakes to create a creamy texture. Although they dont necessarily thicken when cooked, they are also a great ingredient to add to baked goods like pancakes for their texture.
Used to thicken: smoothies/shakes baked goods