What the food is Xanthan Gum?

I recently had a complete baking fail.  I had a terrible migraine, but it was Cake Friday!  I knew the Allergy Brothers would be disappointed if I didn’t make them their Friday afternoon chocolate cake.  Unfortunately, in my bleary-eyed state, I reached for the Xanthan Gum packet rather than the baking powder packet; in my defence, they are the same shape.  Even more unfortunately, I noticed that the cake mixture had a very strange texture, but my overwhelmed brain couldn’t work out why so I baked it anyway.  The Allergy Brothers were not impressed to discover that I had basically cooked them a large, round, brown-coloured piece of chewing gum.  It was beyond horrible.  It did make me wonder “what is Xanthan gum?” though!  This is what I found out.

Is Xanthan gum a natural product?

No, Xanthan gum is a food additive, that is produced by fermenting a carbohydrate (a substance that contains sugar) with Xanthomonas campestris bacteria, then processing it.

Why is Xanthan gum used in food products?

Xanthan gum is often used to replace the effects of gluten in gluten-free baking.  Gluten is stretchy and gives gluten-containing baked goods a nice, airy texture.

Xanthan gum can also be used to add thickness, keep textures from changing, and hold ingredients in place.

Is Xanthan gum safe to eat?

It seems so.  Both animal and human studies  suggest that the worst side effects seem to be a bit of wind and laxative effects.  However, infants under the age of one year should not be given formula thickened with Xanthan-gum based products because of an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Can Xanthan gum cause allergic reactions?

Potentially in those who are hypersensitive to their allergens.  Xanthan gum is a product of a reaction involving a carbohydrate.  Whether the Xanthan gum causes a reaction, therefore depends on what that starting carbohydrate is.  It could be corn, wheat, soya, etc.  Unfortunately, this won’t be marked on the packet.  If you think you are reacting to Xanthan gum then it might be worth contacting the manufacturer to find out what carbohydrate substrate they use.  If they use your allergen, then it might be worth trying a different manufacturer, who may use a different starter carbohydrate.

Is Xanthan gum vegan?

Again, it depends on the starter carbohydrate.  If the starter carbohydrate is corn, wheat or soya then yes, the Xanthan gum is vegan.  If the starter carbohydrate is lactose (made from dairy whey), then it might not meet your definition of vegan.  The only way to find out is to contact the manufacturer.

 

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Spicy Za’atar, Carrot Soup (GF, Vegan)

This post contains an affiliate link.

This month, it has been really chilly here in the UK with some snow, so I have really appreciated being able to make easy, hot lunches with my soup maker (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker).  This soup uses Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend containing sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, cumin, and marjoram.

Ingredients

  • 1 Eschalion shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 500g carrots, peeled or scrubbed, and chopped
  • 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice
  • 1 tin of butter beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp. Za’atar spices (plus extra for serving)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Method

1. Chop and peel the shallots, garlic and carrots. Drain the butter beans.
2. Put all the ingredients in your soup maker.
3. Add water up to the minimum liquid level
4. Choose the “blended soup” option, and enjoy the amazing smell of spices filling your kitchen.
5. Serve with a sprinkling of Za’atar spices.

Vegan Cheese Omelette!

Recently, Allergy Little had to have a day off school because he had a cold.  Obviously, I wasn’t pleased that he was ill, but it was nice to have my cooking wingman back for the day.  It was like the beginnings of this blog when he was at home during the day while Allergy Big was at school. Enough reminiscing…

Allergy Little and I decided to try Terra Vegane’s Egg-free Omelette Mix, which we bought from The Veggie Stuff website.  The ingredients of the mix are Potato Starch, Cassava Starch, Chick Pea Flour, Amaranth Flour, Sunflower Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Corn Starch, Baking Agent (Potassium-Tartrate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Turmeric, Kala-Namak Salt.

The mix is easy to prepare as you simply mix 4 tbsp of omelette mix with 4 tbsp. water.  Allergy Little and I were very surprised by how eggy and sulphurous this smelt, as eggy as an egg mayonnaise sandwich left in a plastic lunchbox on a hot coach on a summer term school trip.  Luckily, the smell quickly disappeared.

We cooked the omelette mix in a little olive oil, and used Vegamigo Pizza Melty vegan cheese as the filling.  And what we ended up with was pretty impressive.  It’s not exactly like a fluffy egg omelette, but nonetheless it tasted good and not at all like it had smelt on mixing.  The texture is different too as the cassava flour makes it a little doughy.  However, judged on its own merits, and not as a fake cheese omelette, it was very good.

Decadent Saffron and Mushroom Soup

Please note that this post contains affiliate links to help me pay for the costs of running this blog. Thank you.

I love soups because they are frugal and healthy, but sometimes it’s nice to be a bit extravagant.  This soup fits the bill.  Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, but it adds a beautiful colour and an earthy, but fresh flavour.  I enhanced the earthiness with some Portobello mushrooms, and then added more richness with some almond cream.

I made the soup in my soup maker. You need to make sure all the vegetables are chopped to approximately the same size

Ingredients
2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2-3 large Portobello mushrooms, peeled and chopped

3 small potatoes, peeled if necessary and cubed

1 Knorr vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice

1 carton of Ecomil Organic Almond Cream 200 ml
1 carton of almond milk (I used Ecomil Organic Sugar Free Natural Almond Drink)

1 pinch of saffron

1. Chop all the vegetables to roughly the same size.
2. Put all the ingredients, except the almond milk,  in your soup maker.
3. Add almond milk up to the minimum liquid level
4. Choose the blended soup option.
5. Get on with something else.
6. Come back to your decadent Saffron and Mushroom soup because you are so very worth it!