Saturday, June 9, 2012

Middle Eastern-seasoned tofu in garbanzo bean flour wrap

Sometimes you need a "precious moment" like this one
"That's life, that's what people say.
You're riding high in April,
Shot down in May.
But I know I'm gonna change their tune,
When I'm right back on top in June.”
Life does seem like a roller coaster of highs and lows as the lyrics go in Frank Sinatra's 60's song, "That's Life." Personally, I prefer things being more even keel, especially when it comes to my health. But this week my tummy got “shot down” by deceptive labeling on a package.

I am one of those with sensitivity to maltodextrin, along with other artificial sweeteners, and read labels like a hawk to avoid ingesting them. The other day, I received a sample package for a protein supplement that on the surface, appeared to be free of everything I need to avoid.

I read “free of gluten, yeast, milk, eggs, soy, nuts, fish/shellfish and wheat” and “free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives” on the label and got lured into trying this product on one hurried morning. Big mistake! The manufacturers had added maltodextrin as a sweetener  (even though the label said free of artificial sweeteners) to make their product taste better.

Several hours after breakfast, I experienced the dreaded gastrointestinal side effects that would last for three days. Later, I went back and carefully read the label, which I should have done earlier. It
was labeled as containing maltodextrin and even had a “Phenylketonurics - contains phenylalanine” warning. Once again, I learned how valuable reading labels “carefully” is to someone like me. That’s life, I guess, but it sure seems wrong that products, like the one I tried, can be labeled “free of artificial sweeteners” when they are not.
Not many people are aware of maltodextrin’s side effects. Those with maltodextrin sensitivity are trying to spread the word. There is even a facebook page called “Maltodextrin Intolerance Awareness” at
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that individuals with food allergies or Celiac disease avoid maltodextrin. Side effects may include:
  1. Diarrhea. One of the most common side effects is diarrhea. Those who are allergic to or sensitive to maltodextrin, or the base starch it is processed from, can easily get an upset stomach, followed by cramps, diarrhea, bloating and watery stool.
  2. Upset stomach. Another common side effect of maltodextrin is a general feeling of sickness or an upset stomach. 
  3. Vomiting. In rare cases, individuals who are sensitive to maltodextrin may begin to vomit after consuming the additive.  
  4. Hives or rashes Maltodextrin can cause hives or rashes in certain individuals. The body will react to an unwanted additive or allergy by producing histamine, which causes hives or rashes.
  5. Asthma. In rare instances, maltodextrin may cause asthma or breathing problems in those who are severely allergic or sensitive. Consult a doctor immediately if you are experiencing any difficulties with breathing or any asthmatic symptoms.
Shawarma wrap
"But I just can't let it get me down,
Cause this big old world keeps spinnin' around.

I guarantee that I will never let my guard down again on reading labels. It's just not worth being sick for three days.

While I was "sick," I really craved salty, well-seasoned foods, like a "Shawarma wrap" which is a Middle Eastern sandwich made with seasoned meat but in my case, seasoned tofu.

  1. 1 cup shredded, peeled cucumber
  2. 1/4 cup soft silken tofu
  3. 2-3 T. tahini
  4. 2 T. lemon juice
  5. 1/2 tsp. sea salt divided
  6. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  7. 1 tsp. curry powder
  8. 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  9. 1 block extra firm tofu sliced into five lengthwise rectangles
  10. 1 T. olive oil
  11. 4 garbanzo bean flour pancakes (or tortilla or pita bread if tolerated)
  12. 1 medium tomato chopped
  13. 1 cucumber sliced
  14. 2+ cups of lettuce or mixed greens
  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan.
  2. Blend shredded cucumber, soft tofu, tahini, lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. salt in a food processor or bowl.
  3. Combine garlic and curry powder, black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt. Rub extra-firm tofu slices with the spice mixture.
  4. Grill the tofu slices in a grill pan drizzled with olive oil (or use your outdoor grill) just until grill marks form.
  5. To serve, place a garbanzo bean flour pancake on a piece of wax paper. Spread cucumber/tahini sauce on the garbanzo bean flour pancake and top with tofu, tomato and greens. Fold like a taco or roll like a wrap. Finish by wrapping the wax paper around your "shawarma" to keep things together.
To make Garbanzo Bean Flour pancakes:

  1. Mix one cup garbanzo bean flour with 1 cup water. Whisk to combine.
  2. Heat a cast-iron tortilla pan.
  3. To make a pancake, drizzle olive oil on the pan and add 2-3 T. of batter.
  4. Cook until the batter seems set before flipping to cook the other side. (Note: don't look for bubbles like regular pancakes.)
  5. Continue cooking additional pancakes in the same manner. Stack them on a plate but separate each with a piece of wax paper to keep them from sticking together.
  6. I find medium-sized pancakes work the best for this batter but you can experiment with making them larger.
  7. The pancakes store well in the fridge for 2-3 days if you have extras.

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