Superfood Series – “Lucuma”, Sweet Gluten-Free Goodness


    From Dr. LJ’s Superfood Series with recipe for Coconut Plantain Cookies

Superfoods are foods that are exceptionally high in essential nutrients. Some examples of these that you may already know are blueberries, salmon, almonds, walnuts and organic apples.

These nutritional powerhouses are extremely popular with raw foodists,  as they offer great taste and variety to the lifestyle, along with particularly potent vitamins and minerals.

Lucuma powder comes from a small fruit that grows in Chile, Ecuador and Peru. It surpasses even chocolate and vanilla as the favorite ice cream flavor in most of South America—and even some European countries! High in phytonutrients, this superfood serves as a sweetener substitute easily metabolized with a very low glycemic index, making it a safe, sweet option for diabetes and hypoglycemia disorders. Naturally gluten-free, it is chock-full of fiber, antioxidants, carotene, minerals and Vitamin B3.

Lucuma has a lovely, caramel-like flavor, which makes it ideal for thickening smoothies or shakes and can be used a bit like flour as in the Coconut Plantain Cookies (pictured, with recipe below.)  I also add a few spoonfuls to my raw “hot” cocoa to make it richer, more nutritious and more filling, to my Green Fusion Superfood Shake and to many raw desserts.  The caramel-like flavor makes it extremely pleasing to the palate — for instance, in my Vegan Caramel Apples, you would be hard-pressed to distinguish between “real” caramel and this healthy, dairy-free substitute.

According to Livestrong, lucuma powder has anti-inflammatory properties that it has been used for centuries as a medicinal compound and even for wound closures and to retard skin aging.  Lucuma provides 14 essential trace elements, including a considerable amount of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.  A serving of 100 grams of lucuma contains 87 g of carbohydrates, 2.3 g of fiber, 4 g of protein and 2.4 g of total fat content. It also has 92 mg of calcium, phosphorus and iron.

There are not many alternative sweeteners/flours that provide that kind of nutritional punch!  Lately you can find lucuma powder in the raw foods section of most health food stores or online at Amazon, eBay and on raw foods sites.  Superfoods are not inexpensive but you really only need a small amount to get the benefits and flavor.

Plantains fall in the same genus as bananas and have most of the same nutrients, but contain more dietary fiber. They grow in tropical climates and are used as a bland vegetable when green and more as a fruit when very ripe. The complex starch (lower glycemic index) of a green plantain releases very slowly and is considered good for diabetics.  These cookies appear in my Raw Fusion Living book series under the “Cravings Conquerors” category as they go a long way in fulfilling a sweet tooth.

If you don’t have a dehydrator you can place the cookies on a non-stick bake sheet and keep the oven at the lowest temperature, maybe even cracking open the door so that the essential nutrients and enzymes are not destroyed.  They also taste good raw!

Coconut Plantain Cookies

Ingredients: one ripe plantain*,  1 TB. Lucuma powder, 1/4 cup shredded organic coconut, 1 TB. coconut oil, 1 TB. agave syrup (can also use honey or coconut nectar), 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, pinch of salt

Directions: Take a very ripe plantain (skin would be blackened) and mash with a fork in a small bowl.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients  and blend well using the tines of a large fork.   Drop by tablespoons onto teflex sheet. Flatten with tines of fork. Dehydrate 6-8 hours and then turn onto screens and continue dehydrating until they reach desired chewiness!

*You can hasten ripening of a plantain by placing in a brown paper bag and folding over the top.  Store in a warm place.

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