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Five Strange Ingredients You Should Cook With Today

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With thousands of recipes and styles of cuisine to choose from, it should come as no surprise that there are some pretty strange ingredients available for you to use in your kitchen. While some might seem too odd to even consider, many can completely change the way you cook, helping you turn even the blandest dishes from boring to brilliant. Read on to learn about some fairly tame, but still quite strange, ingredients you should think about adding to your culinary repertoire!

Shirataki Noodles
These traditional Japanese noodles are made from the root of the Amorphophallus Konjac plant, also called konjaku or “elephant yam”, and often contain tofu. As a result, they are high in fiber and protein, but have no starch, gluten, or fat, and are very low in calories. They also come in a variety of shapes, making them a healthy alternative for any of your favorite pasta dishes.

Canned pumpkin may be the source of one of America’s favorite types of pie, but it can also be used year-round and in a number of different ways. This ingredient is high in fiber, antioxidant-rich, and full of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Use it as an egg/oil substitute in baking, a thickening agent for pasta sauce, or add it to spicy dishes like curry.

Wild Crafted Pollens
While most people will associate pollen with spring allergies, wild crafted pollens don’t cause allergic reactions and are delicious to boot. This product comes in two forms: dill pollen and fennel pollen spices, which can be used in any recipe you would typically use dill or fennel, but will yield a more intense, flavorful taste. If you are a fan of Tuscan cooking, you have likely tasted wild crafted pollens before: fennel pollen has been used in Tuscan and Italian cooking for generations. Just sprinkle these spices in your dishes during the cooking process to allow it to release its flavor.

If you have ever despaired as this weed took over your yard, here’s your chance to vent your frustration in a constructive way. Dandelion greens are rich in calcium, protein, minerals and antioxidants, and while you might want to be careful picking them from your own property (especially if you have pets or use chemicals), they are cheap and easy to find. They also require little work: sautee the greens with garlic, add them to salad, or add them to a smoothie.

Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, but unlike Western breadcrumbs, they are lighter, grease-free, crispy, and last longer. They also have half the calories and additives. As a result, they’re perfect for anything you would normally use breadcrumbs for, whether you’re baking or frying.

With so many different, healthy uses for these strange ingredients, you have no excuse not to try them out in your kitchen! While it may seem odd to buy pollen, yam noodles, and other items on this list, your body (and your family!) will thank you. Cook up something new today!

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