An Introduction to Superfoods – Part 2

Maca

Archaeological evidence shows that maca was domesticated over 2,000 years ago by the predecessors of the Incan people.

maca

Often indigenous tribes would bring cacao nibs and beans (raw chocolate) up to the Andes from the jungle and in exchange maca would go down from the Andes into the jungle. Both cacao and maca were used as money by ancient indigenous peoples, which says a great amount about how much it was revered.

Maca is a powerful adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s systems, such as the cardiovascular system, nervous system, musculature and lymphatic systems. Adaptogens also boost immunity and increase the body’s overall vitality by 10-15% according to most studies.

Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur and iron, and contains trace minerals, including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese and silica, as well as vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Containing nearly 20 amino acids and seven essential amino acids, Peruvian research claims that maca improves memory, increases oxygen in the blood, improves the function of neurotransmitters and increases libido.

Maca is excellent in smoothies, desserts and chocolate. It has a wonderful synergy with cacao due to its hormone balancing properties. It has a beautiful and powerful malty caramel flavour, but beware it is strong, so use responsibly! I have experienced excellent benefits to energy levels when I have maca and found it has also helped when endurance is required such as in sports training or exercise.

Carob

The carob plant bears fruit known as carob pods. 

carobThese pods have been used as food for more than 5,000 years. Carob powder comes from carob pods.Carob powder is an alternative to cocoa powder, having several distinct advantages.

Unlike chocolate, carob contains neither caffeine nor theobromine. Caffeine, and to a lesser extent theobromine, are both stimulants, making you more alert and giving you a boost of energy. However, they can also make you restless, anxious and irritable.

Too much caffeine can lead to headaches and even abnormal heart rhythms. For many people who consume caffeine on a regular basis, stopping consumption leads to symptoms of withdrawal. If you like a taste similar to chocolate, but without the stimulating effects, carob provides a suitable alternative.Carob contains calcium, which is important for proper bone and teeth formation and about 100g of carob provide almost half of the average person’s daily calcium requirement.

It is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. It is also a good source of fibre and protein. In addition to being naturally cholesterol-free, carob also contains pectin, which lowers cholesterol levels and decreases your risk for heart disease. In a study by Zunft et al, carob pulp was shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic patients.

Carob is a great addition to raw desserts and works really well in smoothies. Use as a great alternative to cacao for that energy boost without any stimulant effects. I love the beautiful malty flavour. It is a wonderful natural sweetener. I especially love putting carob in chocolate as it adds another dimension of flavour.

Lucuma

Lucuma is a subtropical fruit of Andean origin. Its flavour is similar to a cross between maple and sweet potato. It has been called the “Gold of the Incas”.

lucuma-giant

Lucuma is an excellent source or carbohydrates, fibre, carotene, vitamin B3, and other B vitamins. It has remarkable concentrations of beta-carotene, an immune system boosting vitamin and also contains niacin and iron with significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus.

The level of complex carbohydrates, minerals and fibre make it an excellent low glycemic addition to desserts and recipes.

Lucuma can be mixed into smoothies, used to make ice cream or can be used as an excellent sweetener replacement, due to its low GI score. It provides a delicious caramel-like flavour. I love adding lucuma to sweeteners and have recently discovered a wonderful recipe for raw caramel, which includes lucuma, maple syrup, coconut oil and ground almonds.

Please do contact me if you’d like anymore advice on Superfoods! 

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.

p.s I highly recommend a Fermentation Master Class that I will be attending, taught by Amy Levin – you can find out more details and book your place here.

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