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Halgrimson: Arrowroot can be used as a thickener

Many years ago, my grandma began eating arrowroot cookies. She had gotten diabetes and could no longer have a lump of sugar with her coffee. I had no idea what arrowroot was. And the cookies weren’t very tasty, so I didn’t try to find out.

I now know that arrowroot is the finely ground root of a tropical tuber and is used as a thickener in all manner of dishes. I don’t remember when I started using it, but now it’s about the only thickener I use, especially in soups, stews and gravies.

It is also used in pies and baked goods, and since I don’t care for cornstarch, I use arrowroot to thicken Chinese stir-fried dishes. The only other thickener I use is tapioca in my holiday sweet soup.

Arrowroot is more easily digested than wheat flour, and it is tasteless so it doesn’t interfere with other flavors. It can be used by those who are gluten intolerant.

Mix with cold liquid before adding it to hot foods. It has about twice the thickening ability as wheat flour. A generous tablespoon thickens a cup of liquid. I buy it at Tochi Products for $4.50 a pound.

Stir Fry


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 small head cauliflower, broken into small pieces (about 4 cups)

2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)

1½ cups bok choy, sliced crosswise into 1-inch strips

4 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 small zucchini, sliced (about 1 cup)

1½ cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

salt to taste

1 cup rice or thin pasta, cooked


Wash and dry chicken. Cut into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan or wok on medium heat. Sauté the onion until softened.

Add cauliflower, carrots and chicken and sauté for 10 minutes until almost tender. Add the bok choy, mushrooms and zucchini and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of stock, cover pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are wilted.

In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot powder in the remaining ½ cup stock, stirring until thoroughly combined. Add mixture to vegetables and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until the sauce thickens.

Stir in the sesame oil, vinegar, honey and salt to taste. Serve over cooked rice or pasta. Serves 4.

Nut Bread


1½ cups blanched almond flour

¾ cup arrowroot powder

¼ cup flaxmeal

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

½ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

½ cup sunflower seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds


In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, arrowroot, flax meal, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Stir honey and vinegar into eggs.

Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture and add nuts and seeds. Gently stir to combine. Pour batter into a well-greased 7½-inch by 3½-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in loaf comes out clean. Cool and serve.

To store bread, let sit on a rack overnight, wrapped in paper towels and put in a plastic bag. It can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Readers can reach Forum Food Columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at