What Is Chicory?

I’ve recently came across ground chicory — actually my mum introduced it to me — and I was pleasantly surprised by how good is was; just like coffee really.

So, I’ve been doing a little more research on chicory as a whole, and wanted to share some of that with you here on Dietriffic.

What Is Chicory?

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Chicory has a variety of uses. Its young leaves can be used to make delicious, crunchy salads. The root can be boiled and eaten (it’s related to endive and radicchio). And, the dried, roasted and ground root of the chicory plant can be used as a alternative to coffee.

If you are trying to cut down the caffeine content of your diet, chicory may be a good substitute for you, since it is caffeine free — it even looks and tastes quite similar to coffee, although it doesn’t smell the same.

Chicory Benefits

The leafy greens of chicory are a good source of nutrients, including calcium, vitamin K, folate, and potassium.

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Chicory is touted as being beneficial for a whole host of conditions, such as reducing swelling, lowering cholesterol, and treating arthritis, etc.

Whether these claims are more than mere hear-say, I don’t know. But, one thing’s for sure, chicory is a healthy, whole food, that can and should be added to your diet on a regular basis.

The amount of ground chicory you would drink in a cup of chicory, won’t provide a large quantity of your nutritional needs, but it is a source of the prebiotic fibers, inulin and oligo-saccharides. This is important, because they encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

As I said already, ground chicory root can be a very good, caffeine free, alternative to coffee.

Purchasing Ground Chicory

Personally, I haven’t seen ground chicory in any supermarkets, but I was able to purchase an organic version it in my local health food store. It was £2.18 (about $3.53) for 100mls, so cheaper than what we pay, here in the UK, for a similar sized branded coffee jar.

Are There Any Contraindications?

Generally speaking, most people don’t tend to experience side effects. However, as a precautionary measure, ground chicory root should not be used by women who are pregnant (it is thought to stimulate menstrual flow), or breastfeeding mums.

So, if you would like to give chicory a go, here is a Rachel Allen recipe for you to try out.

Chicory, Blue Cheese, Pecan and Cranberry Salad

Salad Ingredients

Chicory Salad

12 pecans
1 head chicory
1/2 cup blue cheese, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp dried cranberries, very coarsely chopped
Selection of salad leaves

Dressing Ingredients

3 tbsp hazelnut oil or walnut oil
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard

Method

  1. To make the salad, toast the pecans on a baking tray at 180c, for 5-10 minutes — don’t leave them as they burn easily. When cool, chop or crumble them roughly.
  2. Trim the chicory and separate the leaves.
  3. To make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake vigorously to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Combine the cheese, nuts and cranberries in a bowl and toss with a little dressing.
  5. To assemble the salad; add the chicory leaves to the salad leaves and toss with the remaining dressing. Add the cheese, nuts and cranberries, and serve straight away.

Serves 4

Have you tried chicory? What’s your favorite way to use it?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Taleen May 25, 2011 at 6:56 am

Nice one Mel! Good to know about this because it is used a lot in Korea and in salads and cooking over here. Thank you, as always :)

Reply

Melanie May 25, 2011 at 9:48 am

Thanks Taleen. I notice Jamie Oliver uses chicory a lot in his cook books, too.

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Cathy in NZ May 26, 2011 at 4:30 am

chicory was used during wartime and depression as a substitute for coffee…which probably was unobtainable.

i seem to recall it was bitter and needed alot of sugar to make it palatable…but maybe the whole processing thing has improved.

i would rather have one decent cup of coffee…which is what I do. I cut back coffee consumption because I wasn’t doing all that great. I mostly do one cup at home with Italian plunger coffee grounds but if I’m pushed out of the house will got for instant…

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June June 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hi Mel

I have just had a lovely cup of chicory after my salad and it was sooooo good, have enjoyed reading this article and have learned so much more about this plant.

Can recommend it to all your readers.

Reply

Melanie June 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for your recommendation, June (mum!!). It seems chicory is one a lot of people haven’t tried before.

Reply

penny July 2, 2011 at 8:49 am

i like chicory a lot have been using it for years. additionally to salad it makes a great gratin when you blanch the leaves, layer them with apple and panchetta and top everything with some pine nuts and parmesan… 20 minutes in the oven and voila

Reply

Melanie July 27, 2011 at 8:37 am

Sounds delish, Penny. Thanks for the tip :-)

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