Maca Root: The Superfood You Never Knew About… But Should!

This healthy morning drink will make you say, “coffee who??”

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I love discovering new dishes and then trying to recreate them at home. This was the case with a particular smoothie drink that I discovered at a neighborhood vegan restaurant, Blossoming Lotus in Portland, Oregon.

When I’m in between my marathon food eating film shoots and various travels, I’ve been trying to be more health conscious with my food choices. On this particular day, I hadn’t yet had my morning coffee, so the waiter recommended that I try a diary-free, nutrient rich shake made with Maca and raw cacao, suitably named, “Maca Mocha.” I didn’t know what Maca was, but the drink sounded good so I decided, why not? It wasn’t until I did a little research after I got home that I learned all about the healing benefits of Maca.

Visually, Maca root looks a bit like a turnip and it belongs to the radish, broccoli and cauliflower family. It’s an adaptogen herb and cruciferous vegetable which has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains for at least 3000 years.  It is considered one of nature’s superfoods as it contains phytonutrients, amino acids, vitamins trace minerals and phytohormones and it actually smells a bit like butterscotch or nutmeg.

Maca also contains omega-3 fatty acids which makes it great for your boosting energy and mood, alleviating anxiety and depression, arousing sexual desire and libido. It helps boost immune system functions, aids in menopausal or menstrual problems, ups testosterone in men and is also used for people who have weak bones. Osteoporosis anyone?

I’ve been doing a lot of swimming lately, so I was also happy to learn that the essential fatty acids and proteins can aid in muscle recovery and alleviate stress on the body and mind.

Basically, it’s an all around awesome superfood that can help for a bunch of different things, AND it just so happens to taste good too.

Maca Powder

Ways to try it: Mix it in your oatmeal or cereal, cook with it or add it to liquid to make a drink. Putting it in a smoothie is an easy way to get started incorporating it into your diet.

My experience: I purchased some in powder form (note: It’s a bit pricey. If you can get over the sticker shock, it’s worth it. I paid about $17 for 4 oz., which I assume will last me about a month) and also bought some Cacao Powder from a local health food store. I was surprised at how rich and nutty the flavor of the Maca was. I noticed I had a lot of sustained energy and my alertness didn’t drop (unlike the way it would with a simple morning coffee). It also filled me up pretty well, so I didn’t feel very hungry afterwards.

I played around with a couple of ingredients adding different things until I found this particular recipe that I liked the best. The possibilities are endless. You can add fruit like frozen bananas or blueberries, you can add chia seeds or play around with various nut butters or milk options. The recipe at Blossoming Lotus called for agave but I swapped it out for pure Maple Syrup which is another healthy and great way to sweeten. You can try Cacao nibs, Cocoa powder or even use vanilla powder if you want to round out the taste.

Here’s the recipe so you can try it at home. Let me know if you like it!

What's good in your hood?

Maca Mocha Latte

Makes 1 (12oz) serving

1/2 tsp Maca root power

1 heaping tbsp Cacao Powder (or raw cacao or cocoa nibs)

pinch of Cinnamon

1 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

1 cup Almond Milk

1 tsp of Almond Butter

1 shot of Espresso (Note: Maca is already pretty energizing, but since I love the taste of coffee, I add in in there for the flavor and the added boost.)

1 cup ice for blending (Make sure you use a high powered blender that can crush ice!)

How to Make It

Add all ingredients to a high powered blender and blend for 15-20 seconds. The consistency should be almost like a chocolate slushy. Serve with a straw if you want to be fancy. It’s so yummy, you’d think it was desert.

Enjoy!

 

*Note: It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or nutritionist before adding any supplements to your diet.

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