Please take these ideas only as ideas, NOT medical advice or other advice. Thank you.
I recently heard about the Indian superfood called amla, also known as Indian Gooseberry. Here are a couple of articles I quickly found on why amla is so good for you, mostly due to the antioxidants it contains [Organic Facts, Mastering Diabetes, NCBI academic journal]. You can research more if you want to know more. The benefits of amla are just a background to this post, not the purpose of this post.
Unfortunately, for me, and for most people, I would suspect from what I’ve been told, amla is an “acquired taste”. It is slightly bitter, if not just rather tart, and sour. Ingesting too much could cause an upset stomach probably not unlike too much lemon juice or other sour foods, if the taste doesn’t get to you first to prevent you from ingesting too much. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t take a lot to get you some benefits. Just a fistful of berries, or a shot glass’ worth of the juices, per day seems to be sufficient if you have a decent diet otherwise, which I do.
So how then, can one get enough amla without making the experience to be like taking unpalatable medication that it does feel like, to be honest? Here are some ways I have developed from the forms of amla I currently have access to, which does not include powder that I may go for in the future. Powder just seems to strip even more nutrients from the amla like juicing loses fiber in the fruits juiced.
As seen in the picture that you can enlarge to see more details about the products, I have amla in three forms:
- Juice – which is sour and tart. Oi!
- Chewable candy – which has Indian spices I’m not used to nor keen on, rather than sweetness. Reminds me of ginger softened with some curry. Bleh!
- Dried – which you have to soak in water overnight, then eat and maybe even drink the juice. To be honest, the stuff rivals Buckley’s cough syrup with sponge pieces in them. Yuck!
Here’s how I have incorporated them into my diet to mask their tastes. I will update this post over time as I find new ways to incorporate amla into my diet in palatable ways.
The juice is, by far, the easiest thing to incorporate. I go for about a shot glass’ worth each time, eyeballing it instead of using one and creating dishes to wash. I blend the amla into other foods with room temperature or cold liquids, where there is a strong flavour to mask it so I hardly even know it’s there. Hot liquid like boiling water or soup base probably breaks down a lot of the nutrients, thereby wasting your money and efforts. Below are some examples of where I blend in amla juice.
- Smoothies. From a tall cup smoothie, I split it into two to moderate portions of consumption. With each, I add about a shot glass’ worth of amla juice.
- Add to soy milk and Post dark chocolate shredded wheat cereal. Two things first. I’m not plugging soy milk. It’s what I use and I don’t know how the amla juice may react with dairy milk, which could be very different from how it reacts with soy milk (doesn’t really), so I can’t just say milk. If you have tried, please let me know, though please do NOT try it for my sake because I don’t know what risks might be involved. As for dark chocolate shredded wheat for a cereal, before you ask why work so hard with amla if I’m eating sugared cereal, ask why Kellogg’s corn flakes have more sugar per gram than this stuff??? Cerealously! How messed up are food choices available to us when something as bland as corn flakes have more sugar than something as potently sweet as dark chocolate shredded wheat cereal??? With that taste, you can add a fair bit of amla before you’ll know it’s there, though I would caution on much beyond a shot glass’ worth the first time around until you know how your stomach handles the stuff. The amla juice might be diluted and masked, but it’s still there in the same content taken alone.
- Add to chocolate soy milk. I drink chocolate soy milk after workouts to help recovery, and I add amla juice to it. Again, I don’t know how the amla juice works with dairy chocolate milk so I can’t say. If you have tried, please let me know, though please do NOT try it for my sake because I don’t know what risks might be involved.
- Add to warm soups with strong flavours. I will add amla juice to tomato soup that has a strong flavour to mask it, but not weaker flavoured clam chowder that will also look dirty with the brown amla juice added to the white chowder. When I make something like instant noodles, but where I add a lot of healthy bits and don’t use soup base with MSG, part way through when the noodles are not steaming hot, I will pour in the amla juice to mix, and ingest most of the noodle soup base like I usually do.
The chewable candy is tolerable on its own, but I don’t like the lingering taste, so I have these ways to make it better:
- Eat it with other candy. I usually do this on a 1 to 1 ratio. One piece of amla candy, one piece of whatever other chewable candies. I go for the rather sweet stuff instead of something strong like licorice. Not the greatest mix, I have to admit.
- Wash it down with pop afterwards. I will also just eat a handful of the candies, then wash it down with pop that I drink in modest amounts from a bottle, which I can drink over time to not be wasteful or drink too much of like a can in one go. I find the carbonation in pop cleans out the amla in my taste buds pretty well.
This is, by far, the hardest for me to ingest. I will probably give it up after finishing the one bag I got. So far, I have only soaked it and kept the dried fruit soft to cut up in pretty small pieces, like 6 or so per dried berry, and use it like toppings on some foods.
- Pasta with tomato sauce. I’d put in 3-4 berries’ worth into pasta with tomato sauce and it just looks like tiny bits of the mushrooms I usually have with my pasta. I can still taste the amla pretty well, though, so I don’t think it’s the greatest solution. I won’t douse my pasta in tomato sauce to mask the taste more, though. The pasta becomes less enjoyable on its own then.
- Pizza topping. How’s that for an exotic pizza topping? And you thought pineapples and anchovies were a challenge!
If you have other suggestions on how to make amla more palatable, please do share! As said above, I will update this list as I find more ways to incorporate it into my diet.