A few weeks ago, Juhea messaged me the recipe for Gwyneth Paltrow’s morning smoothie. We were both a little surprised (and amused) by all of the unpronounceable superfoods in her daily smoothie (would you expect anything less?). But I can’t really talk. First, I love GP. Second, I’ve dabbled in exotic superfood powders–from maca to lucuma to raw cacao. While I try to promote the idea that basic, inexpensive foods are just as “super” as unheard-of nuts from the Amazon (just look at broccoli and red cabbage! super-cheap and some of the best produce you can put in your body), I have to admit that I love experimenting with superfood powders.
This weekend I came across Sacha Inchi. A bag was about $12 cheaper than the same size bag of maca, so I figured I’d give this less expensive stuff a shot and explore some of the delicious uses for Sacha Inchi.
Native to the highlands of Peru, Sacha Inchi is a naturally low-sugar fruit with a distinct, nutty flavor. Sacha Inchi, which means “The People’s Seed” in the Quechua language, grows in star-shaped fruit pods and is prized for its nutritional value. Indeed, this superfood is packed with protein—including the nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Most powdered varieties are around 60% protein by weight.
In addition to its impressive protein content, Sacha Inchi is a source of vitamin C (an important antioxidant and immunity staple), omega-3 fatty acid (which supports brain and heart healthy), calcium (for strong bones), and iron (for healthy blood).
While Sacha Inchi is a fun find for any foodie, these exotic seeds (or their powdered form) are especially great for vegans because they are such a good source of protein that also packs in a little non-animal calcium and iron. In addition to providing plant protein, Sacha Inchi may help balance cholesterol levels by lowering LDL and raising HDL. Moreover, the seeds contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin—the feel-good neurotransmitter. Not only do more balanced levels of serotonin help us feel better, they also help deter cravings, making Sacha Inchi a smart choice for a weight-loss/weight-maintenance plan. The anti-inflammatory properties of Sacha Inchi may also help ease joint pain while improving circulation and lowering blood pressure.
Delicious Uses for Sacha Inchi
Thanks to its yummy nutty flavor, Sacha Inchi can be used in a variety of delectable dishes and snacks. (Use it like Maca powder.) Sacha Inchi powder is available at many health food stores and is sold online.
The following are just a few ideas:
—Stir a spoonful in your oatmeal.
—Dust Sacha Inchi powder on a vegan dessert, like this No-Bake Vegan Mocha Cheesecake.
—Add to a decadent smoothie or smoothie bowl.
—Incorporate Sacha Inchi powder into your post-workout recovery shake.
—Munch on Sacha Inchi seeds.
—Craft an exotic, creamy salad dressing by mixing Sacha Inchi powder with a simple dressing recipe.
—Dress a raw green salad with a splash of Sacha Inchi oil.
—Make a nutty vegan brownie by adding a few tablespoons of Sacha Inchi powder to your batter.
—Unwind with a cup of Sacha Inchi tea.
—Sub Sacha Inchi for maca powder (or combine the two) in this comforting recipe for healthy vegan hot cocoa.
—Give yourself a gentle afternoon pick-me-up with a Sacha Inchi Match Tea Latte. Simply follow the instructions for making a regular vegan matcha latte, add one teaspoon of Sacha Inchi powder, and blend well. (I found that a blender worked better for this recipe than a manual milk frother.)
Have you tried Peruvian Sacha Incha?
Related: Top 10 Most Underrated Superfoods
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell