by Dr. Jill Blakeway, DACM, L.Ac

Magnificent Maca – A Peruvian Superfood

macaLipidium meyenii, better known as maca, is a South American medicinal plant used for thousands of years by the people of the Andes mountains where it is known as a general health tonic. Traditionally maca was also used for its ability to balance hormones in both men and women leading to increased libido and improved fertility.

It’s reputation as an aphrodisiac and source of energy may be due to it’s unique nutritional profile. A cruciferous vegetable in the same family as cabbage and kale, maca contains 15 different amino acids and anti-oxidant vitamins C and E as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B12. Maca is also high in essential fatty acids and bone-strengthening minerals such as calcium and magnesium, plus iron, zinc, silicon, potassium and other trace minerals.

There are many ways to use maca. In Peru, it is roasted and eaten much like a sweet potato. Here in the US you are most likely to find it in powdered form. My favorite brand is Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Maca Powder. It tastes malty and adds an earthy taste to baked goods. You can sprinkle it on your oatmeal, bake it into cakes, blend it into pancake mix or mix it into a smoothie. This weekend I baked a Valentine’s Day cake for my husband which contained both maca powder and a Chinese nutritional superfood go ji berries. The recipe came from the British Times and you can find it here. I substituted Earth Balance for olive spread and it was delicious. When baking it is usual to add 1 tsp of maca per portion and subtract the equivalent number of teaspoons of flour from the recipe.

Maca Smoothie

Serves 2.

4 cups almond milk
2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Maca Powder
1-1/2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1/4 Tsp Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Mix together in a blender or food processor and serve.