The Paleo List Answers:IS TAMARI PALEO?

Last week we looked at the paleoness of Soy Sauce.  Sushi and sashimi lovers frowned at our verdict and nearly took up their chopsticks to revolt.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and we had reader requests via the Is It Paleo mobile app to investigate Soy Sauce’s gluten free cousin, Tamari.  Maybe this soy sauce alternative will pass the test?
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What is Tamari?


Found lining the shelves of health stores and ethnic markets, tamari has a confused history in the United States. Often mislabeled, many assumed tamari was just a gluten-free form of soy sauce since it hit our shelves with the rise of food allergies. Gluten-free is tamari’s claim to fame, making it a very desirable soy sauce option for those with Celiac’s disease or gluten intolerance. We like things that are naturally gluten-free in the Paleo world, but there are numerous ingredients in tamari, so let’s break it down before giving it the Paleo stamp of approval.

Traditional tamari was created when the thick brown liquid was pressed from soybeans during the process of making miso. Nowadays, tamari, like soy sauce, is made from soy paste, combined with salt, water, and a mold or yeast culture, then fermented and aged for a certain period of time. The major difference is that regular soy sauce uses wheat or barley, while tamari does not. Tamari is stronger in flavor, and slightly thicker in texture, relying more on soybeans for flavor, rather than salt.

Is Tamari Paleo?

Sadly for the sushi and sashim lovers mentioned above, tamari is not Paleo. It differs from soy sauce primarily because it has a higher concentration of soybean concentrate, and doesn’t contain any wheat, but that doesn’t make it caveman-friendly.  However, Robb Wolf’s blog encourages you to relax a little when it comes to this salty sauce.  A little tamari is certainly not enough to destroy your lifestyle, and it all comes down to your personal Paleo preferences. For me, a little tamari in my stir-fry is a short cut I’m willing to take. For others, try this soy-sauce-like recipe for a similar taste and texture:

1 1/2 cups fish broth

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp dark molasses

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

Are you struggling with which foods are Paleo?  Do you need help planning some Paleo meals?  Check out this great Paleo cookbook:

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