Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, and whole foods ingredients are sometimes confusing. Everyone knows what carrots are. But what about arrowroot starch, coconut oil, umeboshi vinegar, or miso? Here is a growing glossary of ingredients that may be slightly off the beaten path.
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Also known as kanten, agar agar is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed, and is traditionally used in Japanese and macrobiotic cuisine in both sweet and savory dishes. It comes in three forms (powder, flakes, and bars) and is an excellent vegan substitute for gelatin. It is rather expensive; look for it in the Asian specialty food section of natural food markets or grocery stores, or at Asian grocery stores. I've used bothEden Foods and Mitoku agar agar flakes, and my favorite agar agar powder I can get for only $.80 per pouch at my local Asian grocery store (MUCH cheaper than buying it in bulk or packaged at the co-op).