By Devon Chappell —
“When maca is consumed the spirits are close. Maca draws in spirits to be birthed.”
— Traditional Andean shamans(pacos)
Individuals seeking zest and craving an active attitude towards life often swear by the power of food to guide their well-being nutritionally, medicinally, and religiously. No matter the situation, obstacles, or challenges life tosses up, I believe that, other than music, nothing but food has the ability to promote healthy happiness, focus, and physical drive.
Have you found yourself in midst of a cold climate or high above the sea where the air is thin and vegetation scarce? Been pushed to the peak of exhaustion barefoot and hard knuckled with nothing but true grit to pull through? It might be mental preparation, physical endurance, or struggle from lack of libido and swimmers in the reproduction pool. If you didn’t already know, there’s a superb plant arsenal laying in the frosty, sandy soil of a desolate mountain range high in the Peruvian Andes of South America.
Amid the barren, treeless, turbulent wind patterned land of intense sunlight days and freezing nights lies underground a legendary root vegetable known as Maca. This vigorous plant’s root is inspiring. Not only does it outlast the inhospitable region of poor, rocky soil, but it actually thrives on it. Incredibly, daily temperatures of a beautiful, sunny, 18 degrees C (64 degrees F) day can fall rapidly after dusk to a freezing level of -10 degrees C (14 degrees F) giving maca one of the highest frost tolerances as a native cultivated species. Because of its amazing ability to withstand the harsh elements in the natural altitude, which is from 9,000 – 10,000 feet above sea level and as high as 14,000 feet, this crop wins as the highest-altitude crop on earth.
The Andes aphrodisiac, also known as maca root, Peruvian ginseng, and Lepidium meyenii, has been used medicinally for hundreds of years in South America to enhance fertility in humans and animals. Maca is grown for its nutrient-rich root and is a member of the cruciferous family of plants such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, rutabaga, and turnips. It isn’t surprising it resembles a radish, only slightly larger on average in diameter which can typically be two to three inches. The root is off-white, yellow, or purple or has purple bands streaking through. It’s typical that members of the cruciferous families plant above ground to produce an off-white to yellow four-petal flower. Maca plant is quite smaller than its relatives.
In his book, Superfoods: The food and medicine of the future, David Wolfe says being an adaptogen, maca has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s glandular-hormonal system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, and musculature. It’s rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium, and iron. Trace minerals include zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese, tin, and silicon along with vitamins B1, B2, C, and E. He adds, one can benefit from maca with an increase of energy, endurance, oxygen to the blood, physical strength, neurotransmitter production, and libido. Maca is also known to improve conditions such as anemia, fatigue, depression, malnutrition, menopausal symptoms, menstrual discomforts and disorders, poor memory, stomach cancer, stress tension, and tuberculosis, and provides thyroid support, says Wolfe.
An absolute worthy attribute of maca’s is its fertility-enhancing constituents and the support to the endocrine system which is deeply correlated with the function of the immune system. Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacon de Popovici, PhD, suggests maca acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands as well the adrenals, and activating these glands increases energy, vitality, and libido. Also, maca works on the master gland of the brain, the hypothalamus, generally considered the sex-hormone of the brain. I’ve personally tested maca with noticeable, positive effects throughout the body, but of course, having a healthy lifestyle will help flourish the nutrients you soulfully need.
Maca powder is an emulsifier, meaning it draws fats/oils together with sugars/starches improving the consistency and overall flavour in beverages or foods. Cacao and maca, for instance, have a unique and wealthy history when mixed together. Remind yourself when indulging in these types of foods, you’re richer than you think. Any food that holds its own nutritionally and has the ability to balance or stabilize the “body-go-round” should be taken seriously, with love and affection.
I’ve never been one to measure. I am more of a “by feel and taste” kind of guy so choose and measure whatever ingredients you prefer.
Balls of Bliss
1 Tbsp maca powder
1 Tbsp cacao powder
2 Tbsp goji berries
handful of coconut shreds
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (or more to taste)
hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and / or sunflower seeds
slivered almonds, crushed cashews, and / or flaxmeal
4 – 6 Medjool dates, pitted
pinch sea salt
These ingredients are for you to play with. Pick a seed to go with a nut, or choose neither. Have fun with it.
Vitamix / blender
Place ingredients into a blender or Vitamix and mix on low, adding melted coconut oil. Leave a good consistency to roll the mixture into balls. Add hemp seeds to thicken, if necessary.
Begin rolling the mixture into balls. Roll the balls in coconut shreds or crushed nuts / or seeds. If you like an extra crunch, add cacao nibs to your ball mixture after its been blended. Place on parchment paper or plate. Let those little lovelies harden in the freezer for an hour. So perfect you’ll never want any tailored sweets from the store again! Enjoy.
Remember: Anything taken in large quantities can have upsetting results. When using something from the Earth to better your well-being, it’s best to treat it with respect rather than indulge in an attempt to speed the nourishing effects. Just because a superfood / herb works wonders on a person doesn’t necessarily mean its right for you. Always take caution when introducing a new element to your temple.
Devon Chappell is something of an impressionist with therapeutic hands. He holds a focus on what is real when it comes to food. He has a personal interest in nutrition and art and when he is in his element, Devon brings nature to the kitchen.