Looking for a brew that delivers?

We love a steaming mug of filled with a hot drink—comforting and complex in flavor. Coffee (served in the billions of cups), black or green tea, chocolate, or herbal infusions are common choices. Every day there is a new news report about the health benefits—or drawbacks of coffee and caffeine. It’s a complex subject, but fortunately, there’s a new drink on the block that supports balance in body, mind, and spirit as well as being a powerful complement to yoga practice.

The South American herb maca is growing in popularity for its adaptogenic superpowers. Adaptogens are generally nontoxic plants with the ability to affect multiple systems in the body—particularly for repairing the damaging effects of stress. Adaptogens are beloved for their ability to support metabolic regulation and overall balance, especially of the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems.

In Peru, maca is seen as a powerful panacea, a claim that may have substance. While adaptogens do liberate energy, it is because they supporting the body’s natural vitality. We gravitate toward stimulants for their quick fix—but this fix is a bit of an illusion. Most stimulants (including caffeine) provide a jolt of energy by stimulating the adrenals to release their storehouse of wake-you-up chemicals, such as cortisol/adrenaline. Adaptogens allow the body to repair itself and support the flow of energy through an expansion of the body’s own energetic pathways. Maca is also full of amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals (including iron), and health-promoting phytonutrients.

The botanical name of maca is Lepidium meyenii; it is a member of the biologically active cruciferous or mustard family, many of whose other members contain confirmed anti-cancer and health-promoting qualities. Maca is one of the planet’s highest altitude food crops, growing above 7,000 feet up until 14,000 feet. Drought tolerant maca thrives in these challenging conditions. In addition, maca can be cultivated without clearing forests as it grows above the treeline.

Traditionally the turnip-like root is baked, dried, roasted, and used in a variety of dishes. Maca is eaten as a vegetable, roasted, powdered, and mixed into a drink. For the indigenous people of Peru, consuming raw maca is like consuming raw flour, it isn’t part of the culture. Breaking the maca root into a powder and roasting it for maximum digestibility and benefit is an intentional eight-step process. Mixing it with hot water for a bittersweet roasted drink offers an enjoyable and energetically supportive method for consuming maca.

Like many Angelenos searching for ways to choose health and make Earth-friendly choices, Aaron Glassman wanted a brew that delivered. Coffee is a water-intensive, not always environmentally friendly crop, and caffeine can cause a crash and burn. To serve the customers at his vegan cafe (Golden Mean in Santa Monica), Aaron started blending herbs to create a maca drink. The result is Maccacino. The three varieties (roasted maca, mint, and black reserve) contain roasted maca mixed with other superfoods (including cacao, cinnamon, mesquite powder, and nutmeg) to create a ready-to-drink powder. It provides instant gratification—just mix a tablespoon well with nine ounces of hot water, two ounces of your creamer of choice, and drink. Don’t strain the powder, as it contains the good stuff. It’s nutty, earthy, bitter, and sweet.

Some ideas for fun with maca include pairing the warm drink with a breakfast like pumpkin pancakes, adding it to cupcake batter or frosting for a superfood dessert, or blending with coconut ice cream for a frozen shake.

If food is consciousness, the more we can choose meals that reinforce our practice, the more we uplift ourselves and each other. It is something to be grateful for, when we can look to the mountains for both wisdom and nutrition.

For more information about Maccasino and roasted maca drinks, visit: solnaturalfoods.com

 

Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.