What is chicory root?

This ingredient comes from the chicory plant or Cichorium intybus. It’s a blue flowering plant and a member of the dandelion family, which grows across North America and parts of Europe. We tend to use only the root, although the leaves can be dried to be used as a bitter herb in cooking. In fact, chicory root has been cultivated for centuries for its taste and reported health benefits, possibly going back to Ancient Egypt.

Chicory has a bitter taste, which means we don’t usually eat it by itself. However, the root can be roasted, ground, or dried for use as a supplement or warming drink.

Suggested use?

The powdered root can be used as a coffee substitute; some people mix it with coffee to help reduce the caffeine intake. Chicory root powder contains a small amount of caffeine so makes for a better choice of drink in the evening. The flavour is rather bitter and as such chicory is used to make digestive tonics and bitters

Who should avoid chicory root?

Chicory root is generally thought to be safe for most people, although there are some exclusions. You should also avoid chicory root if:

  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • you are allergic to daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds or other flowers and herbs
  • you have irritable bowel syndrome

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