For over thousands of years now, the fusion of Andean soil and ancient wisdom have created special harvests in Peru. Ingredients that were a result of ancient innovation and biodiversity are now part of their modern day superfood’s family. Peru has been home to a variety of foods that are rarely found anywhere, many of which are staggering in their content of potent nutrients. People believe one of the reasons for this rich history has been due to the presence of over 90 micro-climates within its region.
As a result, today Peru grows and cultivates more than 30 superfoods across its territory. With increase in the awareness of their nutritional profiles and recent innovations across our culinary landscape, experimenting with these ingredients have become easier and more fun. Which is why we are so excited to bring to you our 3 new favourite Peruvian ingredients:
1) THE ORGANIC LUCUMA POWDER:
Nicknamed as the “Gold of the Incas,” Lucuma is the fruit of the Pouteria Lucuma tree native to South America that thrives high up in the Andes (at about 1000-2400 m). Lucuma is popularly known for the high amounts of natural sugars and nutrients present in it. Its sweet flavor is often likened to a mix of sweet potato and butterscotch or maple syrup. Aside from natural sugars, Lucuma contains fibres, B vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Lucuma also has polyphenols and carotenoids, two groups of antioxidants known for their anti-inflammatory, heart-health and eye-health properties.
Lucuma has been used in traditional remedies in South America for centuries. The Pre-Inca Moche culture in Peru in particular has some artistic pottery of this fruit. The Lucuma fruit (also called Lucmo or eggfruit) grows on the Lucumo tree and is cultivated in Chile, Ecuador and Peru. The tree can live up to 60 years and is native to the Andean valleys, growing well in the irrigated river terraces of Peru’s Sechura Desert.
Due to its sweet taste and presence of natural sugars, the Lucuma powder can be used as a healthier alternative to table sugar and other sweeteners. Lucuma powder is popular for flavoring ice-creams, adding it to your yogurt, cereals, smoothies and homemade nut milks to provide natural sweetness to them. It has a low glycaemic index and a delicious taste and no wonder is the most popular ice-cream flavour in Peru.
Tips to Get You Started:
- To get that Peruvian kick, mix Lucuma powder with coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, rum and a pinch of sea salt and add it to an ice cream maker.
- You can also start by substituting brown sugar with Lucuma powder by using 1 cup (120 grams) of Lucuma Powder for every 1/2 cup (200 grams) of brown sugar (1:2).
- You can also get started by adding Lucuma powder to your morning breakfast bowls, smoothies or shakes.
2) THE ORGANIC MACA POWDER:
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is an indigenous Andean vegetable that has been grown and cultivated as a root crop for over 2,000 years. The Maca root grows in the mountains of Peru at altitudes of 7,000 to 11,000 feet, making it the highest altitude growing plant in the world. It is a nutritional powerhouse, providing key macro and micro-nutrients as well as unique plant compounds. The Maca plant is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it belongs to the same family as the brusells sprouts, mustard greens, swiss chard, watercress and turnips.
Westpoint’s Maca powder has undergone the process of gelatinization using a steam and pressure extraction method and does not involve the use of gelatin. The gelatinization method’s adopted are aligned with the way this ingredient has been traditionally consumed by the indigenous people of the Andes. This gelatinized Maca also results in a powder that is easily digestible and rapidly absorbed by the body.
Traditionally, Maca has been consumed in many different ways and for various reasons. From being fermented into a drink locally called the “Chicha De Maca”, to being prepared for children by boiling the Maca roots and then combining it with sugar and quinoa to form a porridge. In some parts of Peru the Maca based porridge is still served three times a week.
Tips to Get You Started:
- Maca powder can have an earthy butterscotch-like smell and a nutty flavour, so you can get started by adding some to your smoothies for an energy boost.
- You could also stir a few teaspoons of it in your morning oatmeal or breakfast bowl.
- You can add it to the base of any soup you like to add extra nutrients to the mix.
- You could sprinkle Maca powder on your popcorn and give it that nutty nutritional punch.
- You can also add Maca powder to raw desserts, pancakes or a homemade granola.
3) THE ORGANIC CAMU CAMU POWDER:
Peru is also home to thousands of traditional fruits, that are rarely found anywhere else. The Camu Camu berry is one such traditional fruit prized by the indigenous people of the Amazon. These berries grow in the wild on trees that are found along flooded rivers in the regions of Loreto and Ucayali in the Amazonian Rain Forests.
The stand out talking point about Camu Camu is being one of the world’s most potent sources of vitamins, packing 40-60 times more natural vitamin C per serving than oranges. Camu Camu is also a great source of the amino acids Valine and Leucine, which help to promote protein synthesis. Both of these are essential amino acids, the body requires them, but does not produce them naturally.
Years before it was discovered as a superfruit, the Camu Camu berries were harvested from canoes paddled by locals who used it for preparing desserts and juices. With help from the Peruvian government the farmers began to learn how to organise their plantations and harvest the Camu Camu berry better. Which has provided a definitive way for local communities to find better livelihoods right from their native forests.
Tips to Get You Started:
- You can get started by adding Camu camu powder to oats, muesli, yogurts, and salad dressings for a nice nutritional boost.
- You can add Camu Camu Powder to water, coconut water, your favorite juices or even smoothies to give it that vitamin kick.
- You can also add Camu Camu Powder to your raw desserts, truffles, power bars, snacks and cereals.
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