Welcome to the 3rd Edition of Superfood Sunday which, in theory, was meant to be last week, but due to being ill this article was not completed and did not get posted. After being off work this week and some much needed rest, I am now over the worst and am well enough to get back doing what I do best (writing about all things health and fitness).
Today I shall be exploring a new exotic low GI refined sugar alternative known as Lucuma Powder, discussing the benefits of Cacoa Nibs whilst giving 1 lucky reader the chance to win some Naturya Superfood goodies! (more about that later on in the post)
I shall kick off Superfood Sunday by firstly looking into an exotic fruit powder called Lucuma.
What is Lucuma you ask?
For those not already familiar Lucuma is a fruit that grows to a length of between 4-8cm. Pouteria lucuma is part of a genus of trees that have long been used in traditional medicines and are thought to have antioxidant activity.
The fruit is native to the Andean Valleys and grow naturally in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Northern Chile and Bolivia.
From Fruit to Powdered Form
The lucuma fruit falls from the tree before it is ripe and must be stored in dry hay until it softens. Once ripe, the lucuma is carefully washed before being sliced into small segments.
The segments are dehydrated at a temperature below 45°C, which helps the lucuma retain all of its nutrients and means it remains a completely raw product.
After dehydration, the dried fruit is then milled into a fine powder that can be stored for up to two years, without any loss of flavour or nutrients.
Benefits of Lucuma Powder
Lucuma powder contains a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fibre and makes a superb addition to your smoothies and protein shakes. It also works well as an ideal sugar substitute in cakes, muffins, waffles, ice cream and dessert recipes.
- Naturally Sweet: Described as similar tastes to caramel and maple syrup, it is known for its rich, creamy texture and contains 17% sugar, all of which are naturally occurring and unrefined.
- High Fibre Content: Lucuma contains a generous amount of fibre which helps to regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the entry of glucose into the bloodstream.
- Perfect Natural Sugar Subsitute: As Lucuma scores extremely low on the glycaemic Index, it makes for a great sugar substitute for those wishing to limit their refined sugar intake. Swapping refined sugar in favour Lucuma will help reduce weight gain, tooth decay, risk of diabetes and heart disease (common risks associated with consuming refined sugar as part of your daily diet).
- Good Source of Minerals: Lucuma contains generous amounts of iron, which helps to form the red blood cells that carry oxygen around our bodies. Phosphorus and calcium are also present which both help strengthen bones and teeth.
- Contains Niacin and Riboflavin: Commonly known as vitamin B3 and B2 retrospectivly, these vital vitamins help keep the nervous system operating effectively.
Ways to enjoy Lucuma Powder
There are a number of ways Lucuma powder can be enjoyed as part of a well balanced diet. It makes a superb addition to your smoothies, protein drinks, milk alternatives or simply water for an added burst of flavour as being used as an ideal sugar substitute in cake, muffin, mousse, fudge, ice cream and dessert recipes.
Speaking of ice cream, the people of Peru go absolutely nuts for this exotic fruit , so much so that Lucuma flavoured ice cream is more popular than chocolate, banana or strawberry! (I must attempt to make this asap).
I have only tried Lucuma mixed with water and in my smoothies (yum) but plan on baking some sweet treats with it over the coming week so keep posted.
Now you are a bit more knowledgeable on what Lucuma Powder is, its benefits and the many different ways you can enjoy and incorporate it I shall now turn your attention to a form of raw chocolate known as Cacao Nibs….
What is Cacoa Nibs you ask?
Again, for those not familiar, Cocoa nibs are the kernels of the cocoa bean, which grows on the Theobroma cacao, or cocoa bean tree. The cocoa tree is native to Central America and northern South America and thrives in a climate of high humidity and rainfall. The trees are known to grow at a height between 5-8 meters.
A little bit of Cacoa History
Originally eaten in the tropical rainforests of Central America, cocoa has been a part of the human diet for over 2000 years! The first cacao plantation is thought to have been established in around 400 BC, but research suggests there is archaeological evidence to suggest that cocoa was consumed as early as 600 BC by the Pre-classic Maya.
How Cocoa Nibs are made
Naturya’s Cocoa Nibs originate from Peru and are grown in their natural habitat of the Amazon Rainforest.
In late spring, the mature cocoa pods are hand-cut from the trees with a machete. The cocoa pods are the cut open so the seeds and pulp can be scooped out. The sweet pulp is left on the seeds whilst they ferment (a process that usually takes about a week).
The cocoa beans are then placed into large sized crates, where they are continually rotated to prevent overheating. It is during this fermentation process that the seeds transform from deep purple to brown and begin to develop their much loved and sought after flavour.
After the fermentation process, the bean are then sun-dried for an additional week before being carefully cleaned and sorted.
Once any contaminating impurities have been removed, the beans are separated from their husks and broken up into small, crunchy and delicious tasting cocoa nibs. The above picture is what Naturya’s cocoa nibs look like straight from the pouch.
Benefits of Cocoa Nibs
Ways to enjoy Cacoa Nibs
Cacoa nibs can simply be enjoyed as a snack on its own. Note: They can taste quite bitter eaten this way as it is 100% raw with nothing added so if you’re not used to eating raw dark chocolate I suggest you enjoy them sprinkled on top of your favourite yoghurt (I like mine with Greek yoghurt drizzled with manuka honey) , porridge, granola or simply use it to garnish your favourite smoothie concoction to make it look extra pretty.
Cacoa nibs also work as the perfect alternative to milk chocolate chips and will be a great addition to any baking and dessert recipes. I shall be experimenting with them over the next week to make some chocolatey delights.
The aroma I am meet with when I open my pouch of cocoa nibs gives me that ‘happy’ feeling and must say, my pallet is starting to favour raw dark chocolate over milk chocolate I have been used to eating in my lifetime.
So there you have it, this weeks Superfood Sunday concludes. Thank you for passing by to learn about two additional superfoods. I hope you have found this article informative and have learnt something new you didn’t know about yesterday.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article,I am hosting a GIVEAWAY in partnership with Naturya Superfoods. The team have kindly agreed to give one lucky reader a chance to win a pouch of Naturya products I have featured on this blog so far.
To be in with chance of winning 1 x Chia Seeds pouch, 1 x Lucuma Powder pouch and 1 x Cacoa Nibs pouch, all you have to do is simply:
- Leave a comment at the bottom of this article explaining what is your favourite superfood and why.
- Once done click on the the Rafflecopter box to acknowledge you have made an entry.
Additional entries can be made via the Rafflecopter by:
- Following me on Twitter
- Liking my Facebook page
- Tweeting about the competition (details in the box below)
The competition will be open for one week with the winner being picked at random on Saturday 25th January 2014 via the rafflecopter. This will announced on my Twitter and Facebook social media handles.
Best of Luck 🙂
a Rafflecopter giveaway