This week’s post is rather apropos for me. For the past two weeks I’ve been feeling like death warmed up (yeah, cue the violins). I have one of those horrible winter bugs that can only be kicked with rest and healthy food. For those of you in the middle of summer, I’m sure it’s hard to imagine gray skies and rainy days, but believe me, it’s very real for those of us in the southern hemisphere right now. Rather than wallow in misery, I choose to be proactive. The Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas seemed to have it all worked out in the healthy food stakes, so here’s what I’m having for dinner tonight:
Purple Corn: It’s still grown in Peru and was once a staple of the Incas. Purple corn is now popular in other countries, including Australia (yep, I’ve spied it at the markets). Since Inca times, the Andean people have made chicha morada, a tasty drink that is known to be extremely high in anthocyanin, a molecule found in flowers, leaves, stems, fruits, and veggies. There have been many studies about how fruits and vegetables containing anthocyanin affect the human body, including the potential health effects in fighting cancer, neurological disease, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
Purple corn is high in antioxidants, thus making it a healthy, and very cool colored addition to any meal. Just imagine the smile on a kid’s face if you dished up some purple corn bread!
Adding purple to the plate is a nice way to start a meal, but what about some gold?
Quinoa is rich in protein, is fluffy, creamy and has a slight crunch even when cooked. Some say it has a nutty flavour. Once considered the ‘gold of the Incas’, Quinoa is related to leafy green vegetables such as spinach and Swiss chard, although most people think of Quinoa as a grain.
The tiny Quinoa grains supply a complete protein, meaning it has all the nine essential amino acids. It’s the perfect choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake. Quinoa also contains the amino acid lysine, which helps in tissue growth and repair. Magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorus are included in Quinoa, and many people swear eating this grain on a regular basis helps with migraine headaches, diabetes, menopause, and hardening of the arteries.
|Photo by Shizhao|
Just to add one more ingredient to my healthy dinner, I’m going for the Chia seed. Originally from Mexico, this seed is high in Omega-3 acids and contains fibre, calcium, iron, and magnesium. They’re easy to store, you can snack on them without having to go to great lengths to prepare them, and they’re easy to digest. The best thing about the Chia seed is once it’s ground, it can be mixed in with flour to make bread, cakes, and biscuits. Mmmm... blueberry muffins, anyone? The versatility of the Chia seed goes on. Once soaked, the seeds can be used in puddings and porridge, and to make the Mexican drink, chia fresca.
Originally used by the Mayans, the chilli seed has been found to help with cold and flu symptoms. Guess what’s being sprinkled on my dinner tonight?
So while I’m lolling about on the sofa, trying not to feel too wretched, I’ll look to the Mexicans once again, who know how to use their food to heal. I might just make a nice cinnamon tea to help with the nausea, and if I felt well enough to get drunk and have a hangover, then I’d make a nice, strong spearmint tea with nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon to help with that headache.
And for those enjoying sunny days and in need of a refreshing drink, why not try this recipe for Chicha Morada?
1 gallon (3.5 liters) of water
1 15 ounce package of dried purple corn (maiz morado)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp whole cloves
The juice of 5 large lemons
1 ½ cups of brown sugar
½ cup fresh pineapple, cubed (small)
½ apple cubed (small)
Add the corn, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to the water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the stove and strain the contents of the pot to remove the corn and spices. Stir in the lemon juice and sugar, and refrigerate until cold. Just before you’re ready to serve, add the chopped pineapple and apple before pouring into glasses filled with ice. Yummo!