A type of starch that’s obtained from the roots of the Marantacaeae plant family, this white-coloured powder is packed with nutrients. While it may seem like a trendy new alternative to traditional wheat flours, its use can actually be dated back to more than 7000 years ago. However, thanks to the ever-growing popularity of gluten-free foods, arrowroot powder has now made its way out of speciality shops and into more mainstream commercial grocery store shelves. Thanks to its versatility, it’s often used in gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, and paleo cooking.
Arrowroot powder is typically extracted without the use of high heat or harsh chemicals, which means that you’re also going to be using a product that’s closer to the source and retains more of its original nutrients. In the case of this starchy ingredient, that’s a great thing: Arrowroot can help to improve our digestion and in doing so, easy tummy issues, as well as encourage weight loss by giving a boost to our metabolism. This low-calorie ingredient also contains high amounts of folates – around 84% of the recommended daily amount per 100g serving – which makes it great for pregnant women, since that’s an essential nutrient in helping to prevent certain defects and malformations in the unborn child.
How do you use it?
Thanks to its intense thickening properties (it does this at practically twice the rate of wheat flour!), arrowroot is an excellent way to thicken up soups, sauces, gels, and gravies. Since it stands up well to acidic textures, it’s also less likely to break down or thin out, which means it’s also easily frozen. It can also be used as a light coating to help make vegan foods such as tofu or seitan crunchy, or as a substitute for other flours in baking breads, cakes, pie crusts, and other puddings, including creams and custards.
Nowadays, arrowroot may be used to help improve people’s health from the inside out, but this tropical tuber actually earned its name thanks to its use as a topical remedy: Apparently, it was once used to treat wounds created by poisoned arrows. This powerful effect on our skin makes sense, considering it’s also used to cure other septic wounds like insect bites, as well as issues such as Athlete’s foot, sunburn, and acne.