Have you heard of quinoa, amaranth, pichuberries (a.k.a. golden berries), maca, lucuma, yacon, camu camu, aji, purple corn, or sacha inchi? Some of these may ring a bell, and you may even consume them regularly (quinoa is probably the one you’re most familiar with). Others may sound very exotic and completely new to you.
All of these foods are quickly gaining international fame because of their high nutritional value, and are considered “superfoods” by the experts. If you look for them in your local health foods store, you will probably find at least a few of them, if not all. And all these ingredients, together with the better known cilantro, cacao, avocado, papaya, sweet potato, artichoke, beans, and purple potatoes, make the list of power foods that our friend and fellow Peruvian, Manuel Villacorta, presents in his new book Peruvian Power Foods: 19 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes.
We met Manuel online, and just like online dating, our friendship flourished long before we actually met face to face. His wholesome approach to food, which is the result of his Peruvian roots and traditions around the table, resonated with our own, and we have supported each other in all our work every since. (You can read more about Manuel’s approach to food in the article we wrote about his first book, Eating Free: The Carb-friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace your Hunger, and Keep the Weight Off for Good.)
His new book, Peruvian Power Foods, is a project we are very excited about, because, as you may know, we are big fans of all the superfoods that grow in our country, and that the locals have been consuming for hundreds or thousands of years. We try to include as many of these as possible in our recipes, and now Manuel has made our dream come true, by giving us a book where all the recipes include them. 101 of them!
I met Manuel and his co-author, Jamie Shaw, for lunch in Lima, at Gaston Acurio’s traditional restaurant Panchita, last summer. That day they told me everything about this new adventure, as they were getting ready to travel to the Andes and the Amazon jungle the following day to do some research.
I was immediately attracted to this book, and didn’t have to think twice when they asked if we would contribute with a few recipes. We contributed with five, and we will share them here in the future, one at a time. I’m also dying to try all the other amazing recipes in this book. There are so many healthy, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, that I don’t know where to begin!
But in the meantime, we will leave you with one of the recipes we made for the book. These are purple corn muffins, and (we are not saying this just because we made them) they were truly divine. Peruvian purple corn is what we use to make the famous drink Chicha Morada, and the traditional dessert with Arab influence called Mazamorra Morada.
This corn has been a staple of the Peruvian diet since the Incas were around, and its vibrant color is given by an antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic substance called anthocyanin. Yes, this is the same stuff found in blueberries, but if this was a competition, purple corn would win, as it has a higher content of it.
So now you know it, go get yourself some purple corn (it can be bought at Latin American grocery stores, online, or even on Manuel’s website), and make these light, fluffy, aromatic muffins that will charm everyone around.
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cup purple corn flour
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup dried pichuberries (goldenberries)
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups.
- Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bos. Add the dried pichuberries.
- In another bowl beat the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one by one, and beat until smooth. Fold the dried ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix lightly until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (an ice cream scoop is ideal for this). Bake for 15 minutes or until well risen.
- These muffins are purple, and they won´t look golden brown.
- To check for doneness insert a toothpick in the center of a muffin; the toothpick should come out clean with only a few moist crumbs attached to itl.
- Cool the muffins in the pan for a few minutes before serving.
- They are great with butter whipped with honey.