|Lovely marine algae, before processing into a magic white powder.|
If you make jams and jellies or maybe use a trace for thickening sauces, then you probably do.
For those who do not, like me until a year or two ago, it's a vegen-friendly all natural product produced from red seaweed. It has nothing to do with those nasty animal gelatins.
After it's processed -- nothing unnatural -- from all I've read it's somewhat complicated (therefore I'll skip the explanation), but basically the seaweed is washed and dried, no chemicals are involved.
What you might not know about agar-agar is what I discovered in one of my interviews with a doctor specializing in nutrition. Now I know the other use. It is an amazing -- no exaggeration -- appetite suppressant. Japanese women have been using it for ages.
It might just be that "silver bullet" or the magic elixir some of us have been searching for for years.
Agar-agar, also known as kanten, contains no: sugar, salt, starch, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, yeast, egg preservatives or, as I've said, any animal products.
I'm coming to believe it is a dieter's best friend and after goal weight is attained there is no reason to stop using it. It makes life soooo much easier.
After harvesting and processing the agar-agar loses its color, and is presented in a flake, powder or "strip" form. All easy to use. I like the flakes and powder. Used as a diet "supplement" the fibers absorb liquid in the stomach and make us feel full, which naturally reduces our appetite.
This is what you do: dissolve about a half teaspoon in boiling water (it's insoluble in cold water). The boiling water could be a hot drink like tea, coffee, or maybe even a broth soup for example, but if you're really quick and clever, like moi meme, you can dissolve it in boiling water and then instantly -- stirring or whisking like a mad woman -- pour a cold liquid over the dissolved agar-agar. As it chills the liquid starts to get jelly-like and for some of you that might make you want to retch. In that case, stick to hot drinks.
If you are not yet convinced, here are a few more attractive attributes, my doctor interviewee pointed out:
*Studies have shown agar-agar reduces cholesterol.
*More studies indicate it can control blood sugar levels.
*It has no smell or taste and fundamentally no calories (so few, they're not worth thinking about).
*It is a natural laxative. It is not an aggressive laxative. Nothing to worry about in my experience.
*You can put it in almost anything: soups, drinks, sauces of all kinds, yogurt, puddings, etc.
For a cup of afternoon -- you know, around 4 or 5 p.m. -- green tea, put a half-teaspoon into the bottom of your cup and pour the boiling liquid over the agar-agar, stir vigorously, drink. Remember though, as the tea cools, the agar-agar gels.
Another of my favorite ways to "indulge" is before meals if I'm really, really hungry or before a dinner party. That's the way Japanese women, I'm told, control their weight. No pain, all gain (or no gain actually).