Mesquite powder is the second superfood in our Superfood of the Month series! Continue to look for great information, tips and recipes for a new superfood during the second week of each month.
Overview and Health Benefits:
When you think of mesquite, barbequing may be the first thing that comes to mind. And understandably so – mesquite hardwood is often used to add a smoky sweetness to grilled food. Mesquite powder, on the other hand, is ground from the pods of the mesquite plant, and has a sweet, nutty, caramel-like flavor, making it ideal for desserts and for use as a natural sweetener. It does NOT taste like barbecue!
Mesquite, also known as algorroba, is a leguminous plant found in arid parts of South America and the southwestern United States. Mesquite pods have long been used by Native Americans, who ground them into a powder for use as a flour or sweetener. Although mesquite trees have been growing in the Americas for many centuries, this superfood powder has just recently started showing up in many supermarkets.
Mesquite is high in protein, low on the glycemic index, and a good source of soluble fiber, meaning it digests relatively slowly and does not cause spikes in blood sugar. This gluten-free powder is also a good source of calcium, iron, lysine, manganese, zinc, and potassium.
The marketing of mesquite products – both wood and powder – also helps fight desertification and provides a sustainable economic alternative to cutting down trees for grazing or charcoal production. Mesquite is an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant.
Incorporating Mesquite Powder in Your Diet:
Mesquite powder (or mesquite meal) is an excellent addition to smoothies, used in cooked or raw desserts, or stirred into food or drinks for extra flavor and nutrition.
1. Smoothies: Just a spoonful of this superfood powder adds a sweet, rich flavor to smoothies and shakes. Check out the smoothie recipes below or make your own combination using our green smoothie guide!
- Pink Powerhouse Smoothie – packed with protein, fiber, potassium and iron, this pretty pink smoothie is a nutritional powerhouse in disguise!
- Doesn’t Taste Green Smoothie – mesquite, cacao, spinach, berries and banana are a flavorful and nutritious combination!
2. Cooked Desserts: You can substitute up to half* the flour in a recipe with mesquite powder for added flavor and nutrition. Given mesquite’s naturally sweet flavor, you may also be able to reduce the amount of sugar or other sweetener used in baking.
Mesquite is also delicious used either in place of or alongside raw cacao/cocoa powder. The recipe below pairs these two superfoods for an extremely rich and flavorful frosting.
*Note: You may want to begin by substituting mesquite for ¼ of the flour in a given recipe and experiment with adding more, given that all flours have different properties.
3. Raw Desserts: Mesquite is also great in raw desserts. Although it can be used as a flour in baking, unlike most flours, it does not require cooking to taste great! Mesquite powder once again adds flavor, but also helps raw cookies, balls, and crusts bind together, as in the recipe below.
Cacao Mesquite Superfood Balls
- 1 cup walnuts
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder
- ¼ cup mesquite powder
- ¼ cup goji berries
- ½ cup raisins
- Soak goji berries for about 5 minutes to soften.
- Pulse nuts in food processor until no large piece remain.
- Add cacao and mesquite powders and pulse to combine.
- Add raisins and drained goji berries; pulse just until a soft dough forms.
- Roll into small balls.
- Refrigerate about an hour to firm. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Makes about 12 bite-size balls.
4. Flavoring: Sprinkle on oatmeal or other hot cereal, stir into coffee or tea, or blend with non-dairy yogurt. Mesquite can be added to just about any food or dish!
Look for more mesquite recipes to be posted on One Green Planet throughout the month of April!
Mesquite powder can be found in the bulk foods or supplement section of many natural or health food stores. It is also widely available from online retailers.
Got a great mesquite recipe? Share it with us!