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When you walk into a cafe on a hot day to buy a refreshing smoothie the last thing you want to see is a menu with foreign ingredients as optional add-ins. Spirulina, wheatgrass, lucuma, guarana, mesquite, maca root… where’s the translator when you need one? Don’t let these words send you running to the nearest vending machine for familiarity’s sake – they’re really not that scary once you get to know them. 

What is maca? Pronounced “mah-cah”, this superfood  is a radish-like root native to Peru (how exotic!), where it is almost always grown organically. It is commonly found in powder/flour form.

 

What are the health benefits? Rich in essential minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, and is also quite high in protein. Maca can assist with strength, energy, and endurance, and is thought to reduce stress, improve memory and balance hormones – in other words, it may turn you into Super Woman or Man. But perhaps most importantly, maca is a known aphrodisiac (some say, “nature’s Viagra”), so you may feel tempted to slip a teaspoon into your lover’s dessert tonight – you’ll make one heck of a super hero team!

 

What does it taste like? Typically described as sweet, nutty, malty, and slightly bitter. It has a very distinct flavor – some have described it as like butterscotch, graham crackers, and sweet potato. Others really dislike the taste, and therefore they use small amounts or mix it with stronger flavors.

 

What do you do with it? You can find maca in many natural markets and vitamin stores. If you’d like to take it as a supplement, it’s available in capsules. If you’d like to use it in recipes, you can easily find it in powdered form (often in the raw food section of a grocer). Try it in smoothies, juices, cereal, salad dressing, and chocolate-based desserts – check out Dagoba’s chocolate bar with maca.

 

Maca smoothie recipe:

  1. Crack open a young Thai coconut – pour the “water” into a blender. Scrape out the “meat”, and add that to the blender as well.
  2. Add one banana, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and a tablespoon of maca to the blender.
  3. Blend and enjoy the boost of energy and happiness!

 

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Image Credit: Whitney Lauritsen, of Eco-Vegan Gal