Baking & DessertDrinks

By Rean Unger | May 10, 2011

Photo: Rena Unger

Kuzu or Kudzu, pronounced KUD-zoo, is native to Eastern Asia and has been recognized for 1,000s of years as an incredible healing super food.

In fact, kudzu dates back to the ancient Chinese medicine text Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica.

In the U.S., kudzu is well known in the south as a rapid climbing perennial vine that is used to control soil erosion. This chalk like vine has experienced a bad rap in this country. It’s seen as an undervalued troublemaker that has the potential to grow up to 12 inches in one day, which is unruly and hard to control. However, the U.S. eventually caught up with the kudzu “health hype” in 1993 when the National Academy of Sciences published a study stating that “80% of alcoholics who consumes kudzu no longer craved alcohol”.

Kuzu’s healing power doesn’t end there, it has been linked to:

* Relieving pain and relaxing muscles – say goodbye to stiff necks, sore shoulders, achy backs, menstrual cramps, hangovers and headaches, even migraines!
* Soothing the digestive tract – calms and eases digestion, aids in the healing of digestive disorders, combats gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, treats nausea and again digestive complications due to hangovers!
* Boosting immunity – helps to aid and reduce fevers naturally and has been linked to healing colds coughs, flu’s, sinus infections, pneumonia, bronchitis and tonsillitis
* Suppressing alcohol cravings – kudzu has even been attributed to creating an aversion to alcohol
* Improving heart health – normalizing blood pressure, lowering heart rate, regulating rhythm and controlling hypertension
* Glowing complexions – clears skin and heals rashes
* Melting stress – relaxes the nervous systems and eases anxiety, stress and tension. It’s the perfect nightcap!
* Calming hyperactivity – ATTENTION moms: kudzu pudding makes a great afterschool snack!

Kudzu can be replaced as an exact substitution for cornstarch or arrowroot in any recipe. Just 1 tbsp of kudzu added to 1 cup of liquid will create a thick sauce-like consistency; continue to increase kudzu for a thicker consistency. To use, crush lumps and make slurry by adding a little bit of cold or room temperature liquid. Add the kudzu slurry to your sauce, soup, pudding or any liquid you would like to thicken, over heat and stir or whisk constantly until the liquid begins to thicken. Unlike arrowroot, kudzu will continue to thicken as it cools.

For delicious and easy ways to incorporate kudzu into your diet, check out the Chamomile Kudzu Tea and Creamy Litchi Rosewater Pudding recipes below. You can substitute any tea or juice you prefer, have fun with the recipe and make it yours!

Eat well!

Rena Unger – Holistic Nutrition Chef & Culinary Educator

If you would like to reach out to Rena Unger personally please click here.

Photo: Rena Unger

For Chamomile Kudzu Tea:
  • 1 tsp kudzu
  • 1 tsp cold filtered water
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 chamomile tea bag
For Creamy Rosewater Guava Pudding
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 cups litchi juice
  • 4 tbsp kudzu
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: chopped pistachios& culinary rose petals for garnish

Directions

To Make Chamomile Kudzu Tea:

1. Crush and dissolve kudzu in 1 tsp cold water in a mug and add tea bag
2. Bring 8 oz of water to a boil
3. Pour boiling water into mug and stir continuously until the kudzu is well incorporated
4. Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes
5. Remove tea bag and enjoy

To Make Creamy Rosewater Guava Pudding:

1. Crush and thoroughly dissolve kudzu in 1/4 cup of litchi juice to create a kudzu slurry and set aside
2. Bring coconut milk and remaining litchi juice to a boil, reduce to a simmer
3. Add kudzu slurry to coconut milk and litchi juice, whisk continuously until for about 5-10 minutes
4. Whisk in rosewater and salt and remove from heat
5. Transfer to a bowl or individual serving cups
6. Pudding can be served warm or chilled overnight
7. Garnish with chopped pistachios and/or culinary rose petals

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