It's 3 pm and you have a little downtime at work, what do you usually do? Take a brisk walk around the office? See what you missed on social? I tend to sift through emails and read a few news articles. I gravitate to the food-related articles most, maybe that's because consuming food is something we all have in common or maybe it's my body's way of telling me to eat a snack. Either way, I find those articles to be the most appetizing! What catches my eye often is what's new to the market. In my mind I gauge the interesting flavor combinations, the choice of packaging, wagering if it will last longer and become a grocery store staple or fail miserably. Sometimes I even find myself becoming a customer of these new-to-the-market items!
The article topics that seem to be more frequent are the ones related to plant-based foods. I am not a vegetarian by any means but I still find the articles interesting as this niche is ever "growing" and improving (pun intended).
The advertising and images of these plant-based meals, entrees, and meats are looking more and more like the real thing. But do they taste and have the texture of the real thing?
In many of these articles, I am recognizing a strange ingredient over and over again. It's a root called "konjac" pronounced kaan · jak, and is native to parts of Asia. It is also referred to as konjaku, konnyaku potato, elephant yam, devil's tongue, snake palm, and voodoo lily! Sounds scary right? Actually, it has many health benefits! Including improving constipation, cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, weight management, healthy skin, and wound healing. However, I still find myself asking why is the konjac root used so often in plant-based meats? The answer is it's a convincing texture! It turns out the texture konjac provides and its relative lack of flavor are what make it an essential ingredient for many plant-based meat recipes. It has starchy binding properties which make it useful for noodles and flour blends as well.
As I learn more about this dynamic root I think it is also important to share if it has any drawbacks. According to a spokesperson from Impossible Foods, its powerful binding properties can also be a choking hazard. Apparently, with some of these products, excessive chewing is required.