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Superfoods Part I - Lucuma, Carob and Mesquite
by Liz Bygrave ( May 2009)

These three ‘superfoods’ are probably the ones I use most often:

Lucuma Powder

I’ve already written about lucuma in the article ‘My Top Six Ingredients’ - this is testament to it being my favourite superfood (apart from chocolate!). Lucuma is the dried buttery yellow powder of a Peruvian fruit and quite literally tastes of butterscotch and shortbread. It is mildly sweet, so using it in recipes means you tend to need less of other sweeteners. It also has a low GI (glycemic index) so it should help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.

Apparently, the lucuma fruit looks a little like papaya. I say apparently, because I’ve never been to Peru, and this fruit is only allowed out of the country in the form of the powder. Peru has few exports, so they are understandably reluctant to let it out of their hands so that they can continue to benefit from it economically.  

I also hear that it is the Peruvians’ favourite flavour of ice cream, for obvious reasons when you try it - it really does make great butterscotch ice cream! I use lucuma practically every day – it’s great for adding to pie bases for a warm, shortbready taste, and it also partners incredibly well with chocolate, softening and warming the taste. For some reason I find that combining chocolate and lucuma helps to satisfy any cravings for milk chocolate.  Don’t ask me why, it doesn’t taste quite the same, but I guess it must latch onto the same taste receptors. That’s probably not very scientific but hopefully you get my drift!

Nutritionally, lucuma is high in betacarotene (hence the yellow colour) and also Vitamin B3.

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Algarroba Mesquite Powder

Mesquite comes from South America and is a relation of carob, though it is lighter in colour and has a very different taste.  It is high in minerals, protein and calcium, and tastes a little like a slightly bitter caramel. It is also slightly sweet.

I like to add a spoonful to my breakfast fruit salad (along with some cacao nibs, goji berries, and small amounts of suma, maca and purple corn).  Mesquite combines well with chocolate and can also be used to make caramel-tasting milkshakes (mix with a milk, such as almond milk, and sweetener).  When added to white chocolate recipes, such as the one in the previous chapter, it makes a bar that tastes reminiscent of Caramac.

I don’t use mesquite on its own that much – it can work well, as with milkshakes, but the bitterness can sometime predominate. I prefer the interesting tastes you get when you combine it with other superfoods, such as lucuma.  I usually add around twice the amount of lucuma to mesquite, although some hard core mesquite lovers would do it the other way around.

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Raw Carob Powder

This tastes so different from the roasted variety you normally find in health food shops that you would be forgiven for thinking it was a completely different food.  

Carob is native to the Mediterranean and is rich in minerals, vitamin A and B vitamins.  Here in the West, it is often used as an alternative to chocolate (though to be honest there is nothing like the real thing for me). Where carob really comes into its own is if you add just a little bit to a chocolate recipe. I do this a lot, especially with the truffles and bars, and it really does add depth to the taste.  I also often combine it with lucuma.

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So to end...

I’ve written about these three superfoods together as they all complement each other so well. I find, for instance, that a proportion of somewhere around 2:1:1 lucuma:carob:mesquite works really well together, while lucuma and carob, or lucuma and mesquite, also make good combinations.

Whilst lucuma on its own can taste divine (for instance it makes a fantastic butterscotch pudding when used instead of chocolate powder in the Tiramisu I teach on the workshops), carob and mesquite can be more acquired tastes. For instance, as I’ve already said, the bitterness in mesquite can sometimes offset the sweetness if not used with care. But combine these foods together and you can create beautiful flavours reminiscent of toffee (for instance the middle layer of the Millionaire Shortbread in the upcoming chocolate recipe booklet).

You can buy lucuma, carob and mesquite from the Sweet Sensations shop.

To find out about the superfoods maca, goji berries and purple corn, click here.

Other articles on this site:

A Guide to Natural Sugar Substitutes

What’s Up With Agave?

Xylitol: Ahealthier Way To SweetenYour Food?

Coconut Sugar - Nature’s Perfect Sweetener?

My Top Six Favourite Ingredients

A Beginners’ Guide to Raw Chocolate

Superfoods Part Two

Essential Equipment for a No Cook Sweet Treats Kitchen

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Please note that any information given on this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be taken as such.