Kudzu root may be Traditional Chinese Medicine's best-kept secret. This plant from the pea family is also known as Japanese arrowroot for its thickening powers. What isn’t so heavily broadcast is its calming effect, which provides powerful natural anxiety relief -- so powerful, in fact, that some kudzu-lovers are starting to nickname it a natural Xanax.
Tricia Williams, executive chef and founder of Food Matters NYC, is bringing kudzu out of the shadows and taking full advantage of all of its properties with her Xanax Pudding.
“It has a really calming effect on the body,” she says. “We have a couple of typical female New York clients, like working, crazy, all over the place, who kind of deal with anxiety at night and have a harder time mind-quieting and relaxing, and when we give them Xanax Pudding, as one of my clients has named it, they find it really helps them to calm down.”
Kudzu doesn't just bring about natural anxiety relief, however. Traditional medicine, going back 2,000 years, uses it as a cold treatment and to stabilize blood sugar and blood pressure. It is rich in flavonoids, and can help treat indigestion, and anecdotal evidence -- and a recent study -- have even shown that kudzu can help treat recovering alcoholics.
Unlike many pharmaceuticals, kudzu is not addictive and can be safely used every day.
“Our approach as a company and my approach personally is always to seek out what could be found in nature and that is organic and less stressful and taxing on the body than going straight to medication," explains Williams. And pudding is just a more fun way of consuming this healthful, helpful herb.
Williams has several different kudzu root pudding recipes that she changes up depending on the season. Since kudzu has no flavor of its own, you can mix it with pretty much any ingredients you like and come up with a delicious pudding -- berries, for example, or her son's favorite, apple.
The only thing she shies away from is chocolate, which contains caffeine and thus can negate some of the calming effects of the root.
“Right now, my favorite way is to mix it with coconut milk and some fall spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, that kind of thing," says Williams.
According to Williams, the pudding can help bring about natural anxiety relief in just one hour.
Kudzu Root Pudding
Yields: 6 servings
1/3 cup water
2-1/2 tablespoons kudzu powder
1 ¾ cups coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ vanilla bean
Pinch of sea salt
Place water and kudzu powder into a saucepan. Whisk until powder is dissolved. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla bean scrapings and sea salt. Place over medium heat. Whisk often. When mixture comes to a slow boil, remove from heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into ramekins or desired serving cups. Chill in refrigerated for 2 hours before serving.
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