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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Bamboo shoots – a classic ingredient in
Asian cuisine

People in Asia have been cooking with bamboo for centuries and the rest of the world has slowly caught on, although comparatively few people know how nutritious bamboo shoots are. The tender shoots are the only part of the bamboo plant that human beings can eat. The rest of the plant (lat. Bambusoideae, from the huge family of grasses lat. Poaceae). Apart from providing edible shoots, bamboos with their high compressive and tensile strength have many uses as materials for buildings and furniture.

Low in calories high in protein

Bamboo shoots are high in protein, low in fat and calories and they provide a certain amount of roughage. Unprocessed bamboo shoots can be designated “low-energy” in terms of the European regulation on health and nutrition claims. Micronutrients in bamboo shoots include essential amino acids, the trace element selenium an antioxidant and potassium necessary for a healthy heart functioning.

Take care – bamboo shoots must be well-cooked

Less good for your health is the fact that some types of bamboo shoot contain a toxin taxiphyllin (a cyanogenic glycoside) that produces cyanide in the gut. Proper processing, ie, thorough cooking, removes or reduces the toxin depending on how long they are cooked. The food processing industry needs to develop technical processes which will remove taxiphyllin without reducing the nutritional content.

Cooking with bamboo shoots

When growing bamboo shoots are covered with earth to keep the pale colour. Before cooking, the outer leaves are removed and the shoots are simmered in salt water. They have a crunchy texture, but not much flavour. This is why in oriental dishes, bamboo shoots are often combined with spices and other tasty ingredients. Other options are to pickle the shoots, to salt them or candy them. It’s also possible to make preserves or beer or even baked goods with bamboo.


Ground fine or as fibres, bamboo is sold as a roughage concentrate. This substance is licensed as a food additive in North America and Asia, although not in Europe.


Source: Susanne Großmann-Kühnau, www.aid.de