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I'm looking for a dietary fiber or a mix of dietary fibers (and other ingredients which act like dietary fibers such as sugar alcohols) with really low (even zero) food calories that I can create a crunchy (as in chips) or crusty (as in bread) texture.

Please think of molecular level fibers not as in fiber-rich food. For example a common dietary fiber is Inulin (which is a fructan) and can be used as a sweetener. Another one is Glucomannan which is used as a thickener and a gelling-agent. Both of these have no calories.

I thought of using Isomalt, which to some extent acts like a dietary fiber, to make hard candy, but I think it's not going to be as low calory as I want since it's just half the calories of sugar or flour. I'm looking for recommendations to achieve such a texture, which could be considered suitable for a calorie controlled diet.

As a response to the close requests:

  1. I'm not asking for a recipe, the question is about ingredients and techniques
  2. I don't think it's broad for the following reasons:
    • I'm asking for a very specific texture and how to achieve it.
    • I don't know of any combination that could result in such a texture with low calories. Think of a combination before voting close for this reason (better yet, write it on the comments :))
  • I'm voting to close this because it's a recipe request. It's also too broad, there are many, many possible combinations. – GdD Jun 20 at 16:17
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    I don’t know of any... And it’s a question for an ingredient or a technique for an application – zetaprime Jun 20 at 16:32
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    related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/67404/67 – Joe Jun 20 at 16:47
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    @Tetsujin Chicory also won’t do, as main fiber in Cichory is not about texture or the structure. I’m not trying to follow some kind of a fad diet, but I believe you need to slow down on rushing to conclusions based on keywords you see and the very first association it brings to your mind. – zetaprime Jun 20 at 18:46
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I want to explain few things about dietary fiber.

Soluble fiber is not digested in the small intestine but it can be fermented in the large intestine by normal intestinal bacteria into nutrients (which are absorbed) and gases. Soluble fiber can have 1-3 Cal/g (sugar, starch and other digestible carbohydrates have 4 Cal/g) and can cause bloating and gas. For exact calorie value of the exact fiber, you need to check the Nutrition Facts labels. Or you can check in MyFitnessPal, which says that, for example, 1 tsp of glucomannan has 10 Calories.

Examples of soluble fiber (naturally present or added to foods):

  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO), lactosucrose, mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS)
  • Beta-glucan (in whole barley and oats)
  • Pectin (in apples, bananas...)
  • Gums: acacia (arabic), beta-mannan, carob (locust bean), fenugreek, glucomannan (konjac), karaya, tragacanth, guar, tara gum
  • Resistant starches (in potatoes)
  • Algae and seaweeds agar, alginate, carrageenan
  • Other: arabynoxylan

From the digestion viewpoint, sugar alcohols (isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol) are similar to soluble fiber; they have ~2 Cal/g, except from erythritol, which has close to zero calories.

Insoluble fiber is not digested in the small intestine and not fermented in the large intestine, so it has practically zero calories and does not cause gas.

Examples of insoluble fiber:

  • Cellulose (in whole grains, in cabbage family of vegetables, in fruit skins...), hemicellulose and methylcellulose (as an added thickener)
  • Lignin (in wheat bran, flaxseed...)

Many of these fibers are available in markets. Before buying, find the info about "relative sweetness."

Here's the source with links to all individual fibers.

Here's an one page comprehensive article about Texture modifying agents, such as gelatin, corn starch, pectin, guar gum, methylcellulose, etc.

  • Almost all glucomannan products are marketed as zero calories. Is that because they are really long molecules and before being fermented they are almost wholly defecated or the "common knowledge" is wrong and they should be considered ~2 Cal/g too? – zetaprime Jun 21 at 10:50
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    The label on this glucommanan product says it has 2.5 Cal/g. I need to edit my answer a bit: there's an agreement to say that all fiber together (insoluble + soluble) has 2 Cal/g to make calculations of calories from the nutrition facts labels easier. Insoluble has close to zero Cal, but soluble can have 1-3 Cal/g - thee calories come from the bacterial fermentation in the large intestine. So, saying that glucomannan is indigestible and thus has no calories is misleading. – Jan Jun 21 at 11:10
  • Do you think there's any literature on the texture of the insoluble fibers? – zetaprime Jun 21 at 13:28
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    I would need to search, but so can you. Insoluble fiber is a "digestive," not "cooking" term, so don't use it in your search, but rather search for cellulose + texture, hemicellulose + texture...I'm not sure if the texture and crunchiness depend on type of added fiber, but probably on other physical factors, such as the distribution of air in it. Apples, which contain 25% of air are more crunchy than pears that contain only 5%. foodcrumbles.com/vegetables-fruit-texture – Jan Jun 21 at 13:39
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This is a very broad question, as you haven't said anything about what type of food it is that you're trying to prepare.

There are plenty of low calorie crunchy items if you look at raw vegetables, but you might have to eat a fair bit of them to get high amounts of fiber. You might consider celery, cucumbers, and similar high-moisture items.

For snacking purposes, you could also looked at dehydrated greens -- kale chips are quite trendy right now, and would have a fair bit of fiber in them. Popcorn, so long as use an air popper and don't load it with butter or oil is relatively low calorie.

If you're looking for a topping on casseroles or the like ... bake some rolled oats 'til they're crispy, and sprinkle it on top of the dish before serving.

  • I think my wording of the question could have been better. I'll try to rephrase my question, I'm looking for a molecular level fiber once some technique is applied it yields a crunchy texture. – zetaprime Jun 20 at 17:23

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