What to Eat – Spotlight on Maca, the Latest Superfood

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My regular yoga instructor makes a delicious treat for us to share after class. I have become somewhat addicted to the tasty chocolate almond balls. I wanted to know what was in them so that I could re-create them at home. Wait: guilt-free, healthy chocolate treats? Is this my karmic reward?

The ingredients vary but usually include: tahini or almond butter, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, maple syrup and chocolate chips. Pretty tasty sounding so far. Other things that sometimes make an appearance are candied ginger, cayenne, dried cranberries and maca powder. Maca powder… this is one ingredient I had never heard of so I decided to find out more.

What is Maca?

Maca is also known as Peruvian ginseng – a bit misleading as it has no relation to ginseng! It is a radish-like vegetable that grows in the Andes of Bolivia and Peru. For many thousands of years native Peruavian Indians have known of its benefits and used it for both medicinal and nutritional purposes. It contains a variety of minerals, essential amino acids, vitamins and enzymes. Maca is available as a pill, liquid extract or in powdered format.

The Benefits of Maca

Proponents of maca claim that it can boost energy, help with infertility, treat symptoms of PMS and menopause and improve sexual function. There have been a few small-scale clinical trials in support of these claims. One review says “Randomized clinical trials have shown that maca has favorable effects on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire.” (Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru–from tradition to science)

How to Use Maca Powder

Add a teaspoon of maca powder to smoothies or sprinkle it on top of your breakfast cereal. It has a slightly sweet, butterscotch flavor. As I discovered at my yoga class, It also has an affinity with chocolate (then again, what doesn’t ?!)

So who says chocolate can’t be healthy? For a post yoga snack or a quick breakfast treat, try these delicious peanut butter chocolate balls with maca. I am sure you will love them. The maca powder adds a subtle, sweet flavour along with a nutritional boost. I don’t know if the small amount in this recipe is enough to affect your energy levels directly but the end result certainly tastes good and will make you smile – now that is motivating!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls (No bake!)

Ingredients
• ½ cup rolled oats
• ½ cup rice krispies
• ½ cup raw almonds
• ½ chocolate chips
• 3 tablespoons flaxseed
• ½ cup shredded coconut
• 4 tablespoons maple syrup
• ½ cup peanut butter
• 1 tablespoon maca powder
• ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
• Grind the almonds and flaxseed. (I use a small coffee grinder)
• Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.
• Use a tablespoon to form balls.
• Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes.
• Store in the fridge or freezer.
• Feel free to experiment with the ingredients – you really can’t go wrong!

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