Photo by jaxxon

When I was a little girl, I used to enjoy sago't gulaman on hot summer days. It was cool, sweet and refreshing! I didn't know back then that what I was taking was seaweed. Kanten to the Japanese, gulaman to Filipinos, and agar agar in English.

So, since everyone looks forward to sweet desserts, I thought I'd make this seaweed newsletter all about kanten. Oh, and did you know that kanten is very filling? Just a little goes a long way.

I've been wanting to test kanten here in the Netherlands but I have to take a train to the big city to look for kanten or agar agar powder at Asian stores. I did, though, and I was so stubborn not to include a sweetener such as sugar, honey or juice to a drained can of fruits. What did it taste like? Tasted like nothing. There was stuff in your mouth but no taste. How horrible! It just didn't satisfy the eating experience.

You'll have to experiment with kanten and get to know it firsthand.

Kanten Diet
I normally do not like the idea of dieting but I thought it would be interesting to add here. This diet has reached its height in 2006 but some still include kanten in their daily meals to lose those few unwanted pounds. Some Japanese take in kanten mixed in their drink, soup or salad 30 minutes before eating. It has helped shed as much as 15 kilos in 8 months. Now, let's not get carried away here. Don't alter your diet and just make it revolve around kanten. As always, moderation is key!

Seaweed nutrition
Kanten - its highs and lows

Kanten or agar agar is a type of red seaweed that is generally used in gel form. It is high in fiber and minerals such as phosphorous, calcium and iron. It is also oh-so-low in calories - zero. You just can't get lower than that. Then there's the triple NO - no fat, no carbs and... drumroll please... no sugar.

Health benefits of kanten (agar-agar)

  • improves bowel elimination
  • lowers blood sugar levels - kanten absorbs glucose
  • reduces cholesterol
  • assists in weight loss

Kanten Recipe
You'll need to follow directions of the kanten/ agar amounts when trying out recipes. Try not to go overboard on the amounts of kanten you use. A little goes a long way!

Coconut Mango Kanten
Photo by bunchofpants

3 cups fruit juice
2 tablespoons agar flakes
2 cups berries or cubed fruit
honey or agave nectar to sweeten

1. In a medium sacuepan, combine juice and agar flakes. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until agar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and cool until warm, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Arrange fruit in an 8-inch square dish or individual molds and pour gel over. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Recipe from bunchofpants

We hope you've enjoyed this issue on kanten!