Wellness Encyclopedia: Lucuma Powder + A Superfood Chocolate Recipe

Ever thought to yourself, “what exactly is lucuma powder?” We’ve got the answer + an easy (and delicious) recipe

I love going to the natural foods store alone. It’s then that I can wander and read labels and spend way too much time poring over the rows upon rows of essential oils, vitamins, bulk foods and natural beauty products on display. I almost always leave with something intriguing, sometimes it’s just a new bit of knowledge, but more often than not it’s a fresh ingredient or product unknown to me until right then and there, something exciting to add to my shelf. Curiosity is key when it comes to keeping things fresh in the kitchen (and life!) and, with each new ingredient, my repertoire grows. Most recently, I returned from a grocery run with a bag of Lucuma powder, an ingredient that has intrigued me for quite some time, and an idea for a recipe swirling in my head. Drawing on my own curiosity, this post marks the first in a series delving into the mysterious ingredients and products we hear so much about — but may not have any idea of how to use or even why we’d want to use them.

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What is it? Lucuma powder is one of those superfoods that, once introduced, you’ll want to keep close at hand, especially if you’re smoothie-obsessed. A fruit native to Peru — where there are over 26 villages named after it — and also found in the valleys of Ecuador and Chile, lucuma has been prized as a symbol of fertility and creation since ancient times. Resembling a somewhat creative, slightly lop-sided avocado when halved, and also called egg fruit (for its hardboiled egg-like texture), teissa (in the Philippines), and the “gold of the Incas,” lucuma has long been used to sweeten and flavor desserts and drinks, thanks to its sweet taste, which is similar to that of maple or butterscotch. Most often sold as a powder, preparation includes dehydrating the flesh and milling it into a fine, flour-like consistency.

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What are the benefits? While it’s been used for centuries, only recently are the true benefits of lucuma coming to light. Believed to have been used in ancient times to treat skin conditions, heart health, and to aid in digestion, recent studies have put fact behind many of these age-old claims, showing that lucuma can help balance hormones, ease hypertension and lower blood pressure. Rich in eye-strengthening beta-carotene, iron, B3, calcium and protein, lucuma is rich in anti-oxidants and contains vital trace minerals. And though its flavor is sweet, lucuma is an excellent low-glycemic alternative to sugar, and a good choice for people suffering from diabetes.

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How do I use it? Because of its sweet, mild taste, lucuma lends itself easily to desserts and sweet dishes, and works especially well as a thickening agent in raw dishes and desserts. Try tossing a bit in your next smoothie, mixing a spoonful into your morning oatmeal, using in place of milk or creamer in your coffee or adding nuance to butternut squash soup. Or for a truly simple yet totally decadent treat, make the recipe below… you won’t regret it…

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Lucuma-Infused Dark Chocolate Bark

Ingredients:

9 oz (about 2 1/2 bars) super dark chocolate (I used 85%)

2 tbsp lucuma powder

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp goji berries

2 tbsp raw nuts, chopped (almonds, cashews, macadamia, etc…)

2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Pinch or two coarse sea salt

Tools: Double boiler (or a small pot nested inside a large pot), parchment-lined cookie sheet

Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper and place in the freezer. Prep your double boiler, or fill a large pot 1/4 of the way with water, and nest a smaller pot or bowl inside (being sure the water doesn’t splash over). Break up the chocolate and place in the smaller pot and heat on low, stirring constantly until melted. Note: This takes a bit of patience and it’s important the heat is low to keep the water from boiling over into the chocolate.

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When the chocolate is completely melted, stir in the lucuma powder and hemp seeds, then remove the small pot from the boiler and carefully dry off the bottom so no water drips. Take the cookie sheet out of the freezer and pour the chocolate in an even later on the parchment-lined sheet. You could also line a pie plate or square cake pan for a more uniform final product.

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Top with pumpkin seeds, goji berries, raw nuts, coconut and a light sprinkling of sea salt. Place the cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer until completely hardened. Once set, remove from the fridge and use a knife to chop into pieces. Store in a cool, dry place or in a bag in the fridge.

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+ What’s your favorite way to use lucuma powder? Please share!

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Graphic design by Alistair Casillas, follow her on Instagram

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