Looking for a way to sweeten your treats naturally and add nutrients to your diet? Then look no further than naturally gluten-free, naturally sweet, organic superfood powders. Relatively new in natural food stores, these whole food powders are simple to use, nutrient-rich, and come from foods that have been prized by ancient cultures for thousands of years. They may be pricey, but you use them in small amounts. Plus, as author Julie Morris explains in Superfood Cuisine, "...when we eat nature's first-rate foods, we enable our body to function in first-rate fashion-promoting optimum health, energy, mental clarity, and resistance to disease."
Here are a few of the best that you really should try out. Look for superfood powders from the following companies: Navitas Naturals, Sunfood Superfoods, and Sense Superfoods.
Mesquite Powder or Meal. Mesquite meal is a traditional Native American food produced by grinding ripened seed-pods from the mesquite tree into a fine powder. Used for centuries in the desert Southwest, mesquite meal is a fragrant flour that's rich in fiber and low on the glycemic scale, meaning that it's slowly digested and released as glucose in the bloodstream. Yet, surprisingly, mesquite meal is naturally sweet with a slightly nutty, caramel-like flavor. It's a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc, and it contains lysine, which is often lacking in plant-based diets.
Mesquite meal can be used in place of a small amount of gluten-free flour (for example, a tablespoon or two) in baked goods. However, like other high-fiber flours, it will absorb some liquid in your recipes, so you will need to compensate. It also can be used in raw treats, and it pairs especially well with cacao powder.
Lucuma Powder. This South American fruit has been enjoyed for thousands of years for its nutritional content as well as its creamy flavor. In Peru, for example, lucuma ice cream exceeds the demand for more globally popular flavors such as chocolate and vanilla. Lucuma powder has a slightly sweet, maple-like taste, but it is low in sugar. It offers a healthy dose of nutrients and fiber, and is especially high in beta carotene, iron, and niacin (vitamin B3).
The most common way to use lucuma powder is to add it to smoothies, fruit sauces, puddings, ice cream, or non-dairy desserts. It also works well in some raw pie crusts and superfood truffles.
Maqui Berry Powder. All berries-from blueberries to açai-are rich in antioxidants. But the often overlooked maqui berry may be the best of the bunch. Consumed by the Mapuche Indians, one of the longest-living cultures in the world, the maqui berry has an amazingly high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, offering more antioxidants than any known fruit. It's also a great source of anti-aging flavonoids, some of which also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Using organic freeze-dried maqui powder is a convenient way to increase the antioxidant value of any food. Try mixing maqui berry powder, lucuma powder, and coconut sugar in unsweetened coconut milk, and drizzle it over your favorite fruit to create a decadent, easy-to-make, nutrient-packed dessert. Mix maqui powder into organic Greek yogurt, organic vanilla ice cream, or non-dairy frozen dessert to boost the nutrient value and quickly make a maqui-flavored version. Maqui berry powder also can be used in place of açai powder in recipes that call for açai.
Raw Chocolate Berry Mousse with Raspberries and Vanilla Sauce
Serves 2 This ultra-nutritious superfood "mousse" is easy to whip up in a jiffy.
2 cups plus 3 Tbs. organic raspberries, divided
2 Tbs. organic raw mesquite powder
3½ Tbs. organic raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
2 Tbs. organic unrefined extra virgin coconut oil
2 Tbs. organic coconut butter
3 Tbs. organic raisins
1/4 tsp. organic maqui powder, optional
2 Tbs. unsweetened coconut milk
½ tsp. gluten-free, alcohol-free vanilla flavor
1 tsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
- Place 2 cups raspberries, mesquite powder, cacao powder, coconut oil, coconut butter, raisins, and maqui powder, if using, in food processor or blender, such as a Vitamix. (If using blender, chop raisins before adding.)
- Pulse on high until smooth. Pour into bowls, and chill 10-15 minutes.
- In small cup, mix together coconut milk and vanilla flavor, and spoon over each pudding dish. Top with remaining raspberries and shredded coconut, and serve immediately.
* Recipe reprinted from the Going Against the Grain Group, 2012.
PER SERVING: 498 cal; 11g pro; 32g total fat (27g sat fat); 51g carb; 0mg chol; 37mg sod; 22g fiber; 20g sugar
Melissa Diane Smith, a holistic nutritionist who specializes in personalizing the gluten-free diet, offers long-distance telephone counseling and coaching services to clients internationally. She is the author of Going Against the Grain and Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating. To learn about her online Going Against the Grain Group or her free newsletter, visit againstthegrainnutrition.com. For info about her books, long-distance consultations, nutrition coaching programs, or speaking, visit melissadianesmith.com.
Copyright ©2011 Melissa Diane Smith. This article and recipe may not be reprinted on other sites without written approval and permission from the author. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.