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Are not all fibers the same? Are some healthier than others?

Alex K Chen

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Eg oat fiber?


Useful deets/uses on a bunch of ingredients! (Oat fiber, erythritol, allulose, xanthan gum, etc.)

At least a few times on this sub (and others) I've been asked what one of these ingredients is, what it does, etc. so I thought it'd be helpful to make a post like this, to have information in one place 🙂

I'll do my best to describe what an ingredient is, how it might be used in recipes, what purpose it'd have in recipes, etc.! So even if you'd just like ideas for ways to use some of these ingredients, this post might be helpful in that regard as well

Worth noting I'm just speaking from experience with these, but I get asked enough that I imagine it'll be helpful for somebody

Feel free to ask questions or add anything you want to this 🙂

# Oat fiber:

Made from the discarded fibrous hulls of oats, it's basically pure fiber, as the name suggests. Being that it's fiber, it's also zero cal. You can use it to add volume to baked goods, and it works very similarly to oat flour. Often, you can replace at least a small percent of flour (here I'm referring to wheat flour) with oat fiber.

And in my experience, it seems to work almost 1:1 with oat flour, probably because both are "flours" with similar properties, like no gluten to aid in structure. Speaking of structure, oat fiber seems to make stuff a little more dry/crumbly, so it could be nice in cornbread for example.

Another thing I've noticed, baked goods with lots of oat fiber seem to take \*ages\* to bake. Where some chocolate chip cookies I've made with just oat flour might take 50 minutes to bake, oat fiber cookies might need double that or more.

You could use oat fiber in baked oats, cookies, cakes, pizza crusts, and even to thicken oatmeal or "ice cream" made of frozen fruit and yogurt. I also sometimes use it alongside PB2 and a caramel syrup to make a caramel dip.

However, oat fiber has a bit of a "chalky" taste which is definitely noticeable in baked goods. I kind of like the flavor, but it still isn't as tasty as oat flour. And another thing, since it's \*pure fiber\* it can lead to some gut discomfort if used prominently in a recipe.

For example, where most people will probably feel physically fine after having 50 grams of oat flour (because it's regular oats) it might be a different story for 50 grams of oat fiber.

So that's all to say, oat fiber is really useful, but it doesn't contribute much for flavor and probably shouldn't be the main ingredient since it's all fiber. Your mileage may vary, on that. My suggestion is to substitute only about 10-20% the volume of oat flour in a recipe. You'll want to use less oat fiber to substitute some other ingredients, because wheat flour for example will have gluten essential to rising, which the oat fiber (or oat flour you're substituting) wouldn't.

Oh yeah, and you can make your own oat flour by blending oats in a blender. Oats are cheap and easily found, while oat fiber can be trickier to find and probably more expensive. So that's another thing to consider. If you feel the need to buy fancy low cal ingredients like some of us, I'd recommend ones that at least serve to make it more enjoyable, like a flavor syrup at least tastes pretty good.

# Erythritol:

Made by fermenting regular granulated sugar, it has basically the exact same purposes of regular sugar in recipes. After all, that's basically what it is, fermented sugar granules. But it's zero cal.

So it can be useful to sweeten coffee/tea, thicken things/add volume, aid in browning, pretty much everything sugar can do. You should also be able to use it to prevent ice crystal formation in homemade ice cream or frozen yogurt (since regular sugar is added to those things for this exact purpose)

Some things worth noting, erythritol as a granular sweetener by itself is 70% as sweet tasting as regular sugar, so even though you can use it 1:1 as a substitute, the result isn't as sweet.

This is where additions like stevia and monkfruit come in. When you see some kind of granulated monkfruit or stevia sweetener, the "bulk" of the product is erythritol. Since erythritol is less sweet, and monkfruit/stevia are \*more\* sweet, they're often used in tandem to get the same amount of sweetness. So in short, to make it taste exactly as sweet as regular sugar.

Also, there are different types of erythritol available, in the same way that there's different types of sugar. Confectioners erythritol is the fine powder, like powdered sugar. So it's exactly what you'd expect (and pro tip, it can make brownies have a more glossy surface)

There's brown erythritol, which has the same taste and texture (sort of like kinetic sand's texture?) as brown sugar. Once again, that's basically a 1:1 substitute for brown sugar.

Regular white granulated erythritol is of course just a substitute for regular white granulated sugar. Tastes the same, works the same.

All of these forms of erythritol also have a "cooling effect" in the flavor. The opposite of a spicy aftertaste. It's definitely noticeable in baked goods, if you use enough erythritol. So let's say you made a frosting with confectioners erythritol, you will almost definitely taste the cooling effect. This could be used to advantage however, such as in mint ice creams, as mint also has a cooling effect.

Anyway, if you don't like the "cooling effect" when it's present, you could mix and match sweeteners, use some erythritol and then some stevia drops, flavor syrups, etc.

Oh and also, erythritol is a sugar alcohol which means it can lead to some gut discomfort in large quantities, although that depends on the person, once again your mileage may vary. Can't say I've had any major issues, although a lot does tend to irritate my mouth and throat a little.

# Allulose:

This is very much the same story as erythritol above, so I won't repeat myself, but I'll go over the key and notable differences I've found.

One, it works way better as a true sugar substitute. Prevents ice crystal formation better where energy balls freeze softer (less rock hard), seems to caramelize in baking better.

Two, no aftertaste or cooling sensation I can notice, unlike erythritol. Tastes mostly like confectioners sugar to me. Slightly less sweet, but that's how standard erythritol is, too.

Three, it clumps way more. The bag I have has chunks the size of my thumb in there. You should probably use a fine mesh siv unless you intend to blend whatever you make, otherwise it won't mix in very evenly.

Lastly, it also does seem to cause more gut issues (for me) than erythritol. So I'd use maybe 1/3 as much in a given day. Again, do what you want though.

# Xanthan gum:

Commonly used to thicken, emulsify, and to partially mimic the elasticity of gluten in gluten free recipes.

Examples of the first use, xanthan gum is commonly added to sauces, dressings, and even pudding mix (known in some countries as instant custard I believe) to thicken them. I'll often add a dash of it to my aforementioned PB2 caramel dip.

For emulsification, it helps prevent ice crystal formation in homemade ice creams, and to prevent separation. For example, normally when you blend Greek yogurt with something acidic like juice (especially lemon), you'll see it separate. Or when you make a smoothie and have to keep stirring it, that's also separation. Xanthan gum works to keep the texture smooth and homogeneous. Adding it to a smoothie can give it a texture similar to soft serve ice cream. Also, xanthan gum is especially good when blending several ice cubes, so it's often added to homemade frappuccinos.

In baked goods, a little bit of xanthan gum makes the dough more stretchy and less likely to fall apart. When it bakes (or fries on a pan in case of pancakes) and rises, the dough will stretch/expand more rather than just breaking apart. But it doesn't perfectly replicate what gluten does in a recipe, and a lot of xanthan gum seems to also make things take longer to cook (especially in the center). They might not even bake completely altogether. So a lot of xanthan gum makes things, well, gummy. A little goes a long way, so just a dash is recommended. But it lasts a long time, you probably won't ever need to buy another bag.

Now for some things worth noting about xanthan gum, it can be tough to clean, often getting into the crevices of blenders, and it's sort of "slimy" to wash off, similar to oil. Mixing xanthan gum with other dry ingredients FIRST will probably help, but it'll still most likely be more effort to wash the dish than it could've been otherwise.

Some people also experience some gut discomfort with xanthan gum, so once again, it'd be a good idea to start small when a little goes a long way. Perhaps a quarter tsp per serving of something. So for example, a muffin recipe of 4 muffins could use 1 tsp. But that's just an example, a whole teaspoon is overkill for muffins.

Many of the uses of xanthan gum for thickening, emulsifying, etc. also apply to protein powder and pudding mix, since as previously mentioned those things often contain xanthan gum. So, consider trying a spoonful of pudding mix in your smoothie, if that sounds preferable. They're not the same though of course, protein powder and sugar free pudding mix have other things in them besides gums, so don't expect anything with some xanthan gum added to become pudding (not great pudding, anyway)

Also, xanthan gum seems to make things take longer to bake, as well, just like oat fiber. Banana bread where I used too much xanthan gum in, the center just never cooked at all, even after hours.

Oh yeah lastly, there's a misconception that xanthan gum adds volume to stuff, and it doesn't. At least, not really. Since it thickens stuff, it can allow you to add more wet ingredients to something (like more water to a smoothie) but it's not really that significant, and it doesn't add much physical volume since if you used enough to actually raise the water level in that smoothie (how high it fills up the glass) it'd probably be way too much. Whereas a cup of frozen strawberries for example, actually takes up space when blended. Just worth noting. This applies to all gums, I think.

# Guar gum:

Basically the same stuff as xanthan gum, but it's about half as strong, which also means you'd need to add more for the same effect, like if you're substituting xanthan gum for guar gum.

It's also a bit easier to wash off of dishes

# Banana/applesauce/pumpkin puree:

These and any other form of fruit puree (or even blended beans, that's how black bean brownies work, I think) are sometimes used for taste in recipes.

However, all of these mentioned above can also partially substitute eggs or oils in baking! For example, where some mug cakes call for an egg, you could use 2 ounces or 1/4th cup of applesauce, pumpkin puree, or about half a mashed banana, to achieve the same effect.

I don't have much else to say about this, just thought it worth mentioning since many recipes feature these things.

Emphasis on partially substituting, you can definitely use a little banana in place of an egg for some brownies, but with french toast or an omelette for example, you probably wouldn't have much success.

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