Corn starch, a thickening agent, is used in place of flour in foods as diverse as pancakes, soups and cookies. Corn starch benefits weight-loss diets because the amount required is half that of flour -- simply because cornstarch contains no gluten, and it is gluten, states Perfect Pantry, that hinders flour's thickening action. For anyone with gluten allergies or celiac disease, cornstarch is ideal for recipes.
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Corn Starch Science
Corn starch is created by grinding the endosperm of the yellow corn kernel. Structurally, corn starch is a polymer, made up of long chains of atoms that exhibit interesting physical properties related to its use as a thickener. Little Shop describes the chains of atoms as allowing a creeping, oozing action of a cornstarch liquid being slowly poured, but the fast your pour, the firmer the mixture becomes. If you push onto the liquid, it actually hardens. Corn starch's sensitive nature sometimes makes cooking with it an unusual experience, says Perfect Pantry, since its relationship with water is so perplexing.
Corn Starch Benefits for Illness
If you have celiac disease or gluten allergies you may benefit from corn starch diets. The National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease describes celiac disease, a permanent, auto-immune digestive disorder, as gluten's creating a toxic environment in the small intestine, leading to intestinal tissue damage and malnutrition. Wheat allergies are considered more temporary, and gluten intolerance is not immune-related. In any of these conditions, corn starch helps to alleviate symptoms.
Corn Starch Breakfast
Corn starch pancakes have no flour whatsoever. Checkers' recipe calls for two eggs; 25 ml, or 5 tsps., of olive oil; 220 ml, or 1 cup, of corn starch; and approximately 1/2 cup water. The mixture will resemble regular pancake batter but the corn starch will exert its thickening action in the cooking pan, so these pancakes are robust.
Corn Starch Soup
A corn starch-based hot and sour soup from Perfect Pantry contains a bounty of flavors... but its corn starch is what gives it body. Only 2 tbsp. corn starch are required; if you used flour, you would need more than 1/4 cup, so already the calories are lower. This clear soup is nutrient-rich, with protein from tofu and egg, and antioxidants and phytochemicals from ginger, onions, mushrooms and rice vinegar. Accompanying corn starch cookies, or biscoitos de maizena, add sweetness and snap; Maria-Brazil's recipe has just five ingredients: corn starch, egg, sugar, butter and salt.
Corn Starch Dessert
Chocolate cornstarch pudding from AllRecipes seems a classic in the making. At 271 calories and only 9.2 g fat per serving, it can replace any calorie-loaded chocolate cheesecake or chocolate frosted layer cake. It provides 25 percent of your daily calcium and 6.4 g protein. This pudding's notable ingredients are corn starch, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and unsweetened cocoa powder, itself a font of anitioxidants. Corn starch has many healthful applications, and perhaps will become more popular with time and education.