There are several healthy ways to thicken stews and soups by using ingredients other than flour.
Thickening is most often made with white flour. There would be no problem with this ingredient on its own, and there is not much difference in calorie content compared to wholewheat flour, but its absorption rate is much less favorable.
White flour is one of the fast-absorbing carbohydrates; in other words, it is a food with a high glycemic index, and contains less fiber than its alternatives. Fibers are important in nutrition because they provide a sense of fullness and slow down the absorption of nutrients. This is why it is a good idea to replace white flour with healthier ingredients whenever possible.
The starch in tapioca, which is mostly available in the form of granules, can be perfect for thickening. Its gelatinous consistency makes food lump-free, its high fiber content aids digestion and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
Oat bran, due to its very high water absorption capacity, helps to firm up meals and contains water-soluble fiber such as beta-glucan, which provides a mild “bowel cleansing” effect. It contains 28% fiber, which inhibits the absorption of carbohydrates and fats, giving a long-lasting feeling of fullness.
Buckwheat is also an excellent source of fiber and is available in a variety of forms, including ground or flaked. Made up of 17-20% dietary fiber, buckwheat is excellent as an ingredient in thickening, and the amino acids in it play a role in preventing fatty liver.
Psyllium flour is also suitable for thickening stews or soups because of its high water retention. Due to its fiber content, only three teaspoons per day should be consumed, which should also be taken into account when thickening food. Excessive intake of fiber can lead to malabsorption, meaning that important vitamins and nutrients are not absorbed.
Other thickening ingredients
Some vegetables can thicken dishes by themselves, so they can replace flour and other thickening agents. To this end, cook the vegetables in just enough water that covers them, and when they are tender, take about 2-3 ladles of vegetables out of the pot and puree them.
You can also add a little milk or vegetable milk to the pureed vegetables, which would have been added to the stew or soup anyway. Then pour the mixture back the stew or soup and cook together.