What if there was a way to make decadent cakes, brownies and chocolate mousse healthier, without sacrificing flavor? The newest star of the health food world, the exotically named aquafaba, promises to do just that.
One of the biggest food trends in 2016, aquafaba is being hailed as vegan-friendly substitute for egg whites that can be whisked and whipped into soft, fluffy peaks that rival the work of the most skilled French bakers – without affecting taste. But what is aquafaba, you ask? Read on to learn more about this exciting substance.
Chickpeas are good for you – and so is their juice!
The Facebook post heard round the world
Sometimes the most beautiful things are found in the most unexpected of places. In this case, that’s the goopy, syrupy and somewhat off-putting liquid found in a can of chickpeas. One culinarily-curious software engineer, Goose Wohlt, posted this comment to the Facebook group, “What Fat Vegans Eat,” the Guardian recounted:
“Dead simple delicious two ingredient whole food meringues … one can chickpea brine mixed w half cup sugar. Perfect-O.”
The post spread like wildfire. Soon, vegan food blogs were posting creative recipes taking advantage of aquafaba’s egg-like qualities, and Wohlt coined “aquafaba” – built from the Latin words for “water” and “bean” to describe the liquid.
Magic bean juice
The magic of aquafaba is that it not only cooks like egg whites, but tastes like them, too. If you’re an avid chickpea eater, you may have noticed that aquafaba doesn’t have the greatest smell in the world. However, it inexplicably transforms into a seemingly perfect egg white substitute upon whipping and baking. Inexplicably is not an understatement – scientists aren’t actually quite sure about the mechanics of how chickpea juice makes its egg-like transformation, according to Mother Nature Network.
“There are a few biochemists and phytochemists and kitchen experimenters from the groups tinkering with various aspects, but there is no real definitive consensus yet. The proteins and starches in the aquafaba tend to mimic the proteins in egg whites in many respects, but the science is still pending,” explained Aquafaba.com.
“Aquafaba contains one quarter of the protein found in chickpeas.”
Chickpeas are an incredible non-meat source of nutrients, packing 50 percent of your daily value for fiber and 29 percent of your daily value for protein in a single cup serving, according to WH Foods. Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas have been found to help suppress appetite and cause you to be more satisfied with your food. The site noted a recent study that found that individuals who included garbanzo beans in their diet ate fewer processed foods and less food overall compared to the weeks the beans weren’t included in their diets.
Despite being a liquid, aquafaba contains one quarter of the protein found in chickpeas and the same levels of omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids, according to Trim Down Club. The site explained that the liquid also contains the phytonutrients saponins and pectins, which are the compounds that enable the juice to become foamy and fluffy and which may also promote cardiovascular health.
The clearest health benefit of aquafaba? Unlike eggs, it contains no cholesterol whatsoever.
Cooking with aquafaba
It seems that aquafaba can be used in any recipe or meal that requires eggs, with experimenters finding success in both sweet baked treats and savory dishes like egg noodles. Wrote Mary Valle for the Guardian:
“I’ve made French toast, waffles, chocolate mousse, basic white bread, banana muffins [and chocolate mousse.] It worked. The waffles were the best I have ever eaten. The bread’s crumb was refined.”
The Vegan Society has a great list of different foods you can make with aquafaba. You can make the famous meringue, or try your hand at fudge, pies, brownies, macarons – and even mayonnaise.
When cooking with aquafaba, a good general rule to go by is to use three tablespoons of aquafaba per egg.