Ever wondered what to do with maca? Learn all about the superfood and our favorite ways to use it, below!
Maca has been in my repertoire for a little over a year now. Intrigued by the claims that it might help balance my hormones and boost my mood I grabbed a bag of the golden powder at the grocery store one day an haven’t looked back. Since then, it’s quickly gained a top spot in the long list of strange and exciting smoothie ingredients that inhabit my pantry. With a slightly sweet, caramel flavor similar to lucuma, maca has been used for centuries by indigenous Andean communities as a source of healing and sustenance, but only recently has it begun to gain popularity in Western diets. This week, I’m diving in to all the incredible benefits maca has to offer, and sharing a recipe, too. Because as much as I love it in my smoothies and blended into a latte, maca can be put to work in so many more ways. Read on to learn more about this Andean superfood, and then be sure to scroll a bit further for one of my absolute favorite recipes of late: raw maca-macadamia blondies. You won’t want to miss them!
What is it? Maca is an herbaceous plant native to the Andean mountains of Peru and Bolivia and it’s one of the only known edible plants in the world to grow at such high altitudes. Because of the intense sunlight and unrelenting winds the plant is exposed to at the top of those mountain peaks, it’s said that the maca root (the part made into the edible powder) is infused with strength. As an adaptogenic food, maca helps our bodies cope with stress by balancing our delicate endocrine system, and is said to help with fertility issues and hormonal imbalances. Evidence has been found that maca cultivation goes as far back as 1600 B.C. and it remains a staple in the diet of the Quechua Indians of Peru.
What are the benefits? Besides balancing our hormones, maca is choc full of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals including B, B1, and B2, as well as iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium. It’s also a good source of fiber and plant protein, which makes it an ideal addition to smoothies for those looking for a plant-based protein boost. Maca is prized for it’s ability to give strength and increase endurance, and the alkaloids found in maca (called Macainas) assist in endocrine balance.
How do I use it? While similar to lucuma in taste, maca is notably stronger and it’s root-like taste may take some getting used to (it did for me). It’s best to start small, try adding a teaspoon to a smoothie with some mango and pineapple, and working up to larger quantities. Once you’re used to it, maca mixes well with sweeter breakfasts, like porridge, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and granola, and is a great addition to desserts. You can also mix a teaspoon or two into your coffee or tea, or make a batch of Bridget’s Morning Boost elixer.
If you’re looking for something truly decadent, but not at all guilt-inducing, try the recipe below. These raw blondies, in my opinion, are way better than their traditional counterparts, thanks to the addition of maca, almond extract, and a drizzle of melted chocolate. The ingredient list may seem long, but the payoff is so worth it. These whip up in about 10 minutes and are so completely satisfying!
Raw Maca-Macadamia Blondies
1 cup raw cashews (almonds also work)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
5 pitted medjool dates
3 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp coconut butter (can also sub additional almond or other nut butter)
2 tbsp maca
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch or two coarse sea salt
1 cup raw macadamia nuts
Optional: melted chocolate & large flake coconut, to top
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except macadamia nuts and chocolate, if using. Run machine until mixture is sticky and granular, it should stick together easily when pinched. Add macadamia nuts and pulse until roughly chopped and mixed in, but not pulverized.
Pour mixture into a pan, for thick brownies, use a loaf pan, for thinner brownies, use a 9″x 9″ square cake pan. Press brownie mixture firmly into place and pop the pan into the freezer to set, about 10-20 minutes.
Once set, remove the pan from the freezer and turn out brownies onto a piece of parchment. You may need to firmly rap the bottom of the pan to dislodge.
If using, melt the chocolate and drizzle over top and sprinkle with large flake coconut before using a sharp knife to cut into squares. Store in the fridge. Enjoy!
+ Why we love lucuma