Maca root, a tuber similar in size and shape to a beet, hails from the high plateaus in the Andes of South America. This relative of the radish has been cultivated in Peru for at least three millennia, where ancient Incan warriors ate it for energy boosts before battle. Also known as Peruvian Ginseng, Lepidium meyenii has been used for food for both humans and livestock, and traditional Andean preparations include steeping the root in tea or eating maca whole, like a baked potato.
Of course, Maca increases more than just energy level. It also enhances libido. A rumored aphrodisiac, maca has been shown to improve fertility. Other effects include easing anxiety and depression – perhaps as a direct result of the increased energy and libido. However, maca comes with a caveat, like most superfoods. It turns out, your body can actually build up a resistance to maca. Therefore, if you decide to consume it regularly, you should take a week off for every three or four weeks that you eat it.
I found a bag of maca powder online and gave it a try in my morning oatmeal. The best way to describe its taste is malty, like eating the ground innards of a Whopper candy. While I cannot be sure if my energy that day was from the teaspoon of powder in my breakfast or the good old placebo effect, I managed to forgo my morning tea without too much caffeine withdrawal.
If you find yourself with a bag of this pale, slightly sweet powder and are wondering what to do with it, maca would be an interesting flavoring addition for banana soft-serve or a vegan milkshake of ice, plant-based milk, and dates, and cacao. In a fitting end to a highly experimental culinary summer, I decided to toss a tablespoon of everything I have tried this summer into a blender and watch what happened. Honestly, I cannot recommend this course of action to anyone.
The mixture of chia, goji, hemp, wheatgrass, spirulina, and maca blended up into a superfood cocktail that looks like a dangerous brew. It tasted heavily of spirulina and wheatgrass, and I couldn’t tempt any of my taste testers into taking more than one dubious sip. Overall, it was a highly gag-inducing blend and an oddly perfect end to my summer foray into the world of superfoods.