Cooking With Maca: The Dos And Don’ts

Maca powder is made from the tuber of a cruciferous vegetable. It is shaped like a turnip and is about the size of a large lime. Maca root grows high above sea-level in the Andes mountains where people have used it as food for thousands of years. While it has long been prized in its region of origin, this superfood is now gaining traction outside of South America as an energy supplement and libido enhancer. As with any food, there are rules that you need to follow to maximize its benefits. Here are the dos and don’ts of maca root and maca root powder.

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02/18/2024 08:56 am GMT

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Do add maca powder as a flavor-enhancing spice.

The flavor is pleasantly earthy with a nutty and malty finish. Because its flavor is mild, maca can blend in with many different sweet and savory ingredients. It is extremely versatile.

One popular use for maca powder in cooking is in smoothies, shakes, and hot chocolate where it adds a nutty and slightly sweet taste. It can also be incorporated into baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and muffins, lending a subtle earthy flavor. Additionally, maca powder can be sprinkled over oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal for an added nutritional boost. It can even be used as a seasoning for roasted vegetables or added to soups and stews for a hint of depth.

Do take as much maca as you want, within reason.

People in the Andes often eat multiple servings of the root daily, so there is no hard upper limit on the amount you can take. This is because maca is a food, even though you can use it as a supplement. Because it is a food, you can’t overdose on it; however, the right amount to take can vary from individual to individual. Any side effects are rarely ever severe, so you don’t have to worry about serious issues from taking too much. Generally speaking, you can take more of it if you are on the heavier side; less if your body weight is lower.

If you want to be careful, you should start out using it in moderation and then increase once you determine your tolerance. Slow progression is necessary since some first-time maca users do suffer from intestinal distress. A very small percentage of new users of maca report insomnia and anxiety similar to the side effects of excessive caffeine consumption.

Do store maca properly.

If you are using powdered maca, keep it away from moisture and direct light. A resealable bag should be enough. If the climate where you live is especially humid, you may want to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. When properly stored, maca lasts for about two years at room temperature and indefinitely in the freezer.

Do cook with/take maca early in the day or whenever you need an energy boost.

Maca is great for increasing your energy levels without caffeine, which is why it is often recommended as an alternative for people who want to break their caffeine addiction. Or, you can make maca coffee, pairing your favorite morning wake-me-up cup with the benefits of maca powder.

To make maca coffee, start by brewing a cup of your preferred coffee using your usual method. Once the coffee is ready, add a teaspoon of maca powder to your cup. You can adjust the amount of maca powder based on your preference and desired taste. Stir the maca powder into the coffee until it is well dissolved. You can also add any other desired ingredients such as milk, sweetener, or flavorings to enhance the taste.

Maca can also work with many breakfast recipes (as an additive spice, for the nutty flavor), including pancakes, waffles, and French toast. It’s also a terrific additive to your maple syrup.

Do buy gelatinized maca powder to make consuming it more convenient.

Gelatinized maca has been processed to remove goitrogens and to ensure that it mixes well with foods. This process makes the maca powder more concentrated and easier to digest. Gelatinized maca powder retains all the beneficial nutrients and properties of raw maca powder, such as vitamins, minerals, and adaptogens, but it is also more bioavailable. This means that the body can absorb and utilize the nutrients more efficiently. 

Don’t consume maca raw.

In the Andes, the traditional way to eat maca is to cook it. It is usually either boiled or roasted. The problem with raw maca is the goitrogens it contains. Goitrogens are compounds found in cruciferous vegetables that can disrupt thyroid function worsening your risk for heart disease and dementia. The easiest way to combat the effects of goitrogens is to always cook maca. In addition to increasing the potential for thyroid problems, eating raw maca may make intestinal issues more likely.