Mighty Mini Maca Bites
Being a woman of a certain age (fine, it’s 52) who is dealing with certain hormonal fluctuations (thanks, perimenopause!), I began experimenting with herbs and potions to help stave off the effects of the hormonally-induced roller coaster I sometimes find myself riding (very much against my will).
It was during this experimental process that I came to know maca, my newest superfood friend. After my discovery, started to look for ways to get it into my diet. Unfortunately for me, the most often recommended vehicles for ingestion were smoothies and supplements, neither of which works for me. I find smoothies among the least satisfying breakfast options available. I know there are many of you out there that swear by your morning smoothie and I won’t try to convince you otherwise but they are decidedly not my thing. And, supplements, well, meh. So I started looking for other recipes that included maca and found a multitude of recipes for energy bites. But the problem I had with these recipes was that almost all of them included shredded coconut, which I care for even less than I do smoothies. So, I set about creating my own and came up with Mighty Mini Maca Bites!
So what is maca and why has it become my new BFF? Maca, a root native to the Peruvian Andes, has been used by the Incas for energy, strength, and stamina for centuries. It is used today for similar reasons as well its ability to regulate stress, support the adrenal glands, and (wait for it) balance hormones. It contains close to 60 phytonutrients in addition to an abundance of minerals, amino acids, and plant sterols, which have been shown to block the absorption of cholesterol.
In Superfood Kitchen, Julie Morris writes “Key to understanding the exceptional power of maca is its placement within a rare class of plants called ‘adaptogens’ (only about 1 in 4000 plants contains adaptogenic properties). Being an adptogen means that, when consumed, this amazing root can actually ‘adapt’ and adjust to combat the different types of stresses that are put on the body. Remarkably, maca strengthens and balances the body’s systems–providing long-lasting energy and combating fatigue–without being a stimulant.”
Julie goes on to perfectly describe the flavor notes of maca: “Maca offers a strong aroma and a complex, earthly slightly sweet, nutty flavor–with just a hint of butterscotch. Its unusual taste may be pulled in both sweet and savory directions, and many find it strangely addictive.”
For the recipe below, I used the gelatinized version of maca that is both milder in flavor and more potent than the raw version.
The recipe also uses a generous amount of tigernut flour… another of my favorite ingredients right now. Tigernuts, which are not nuts, are a slightly sweet, nutty tuber from Africa. Once ground to a powder, tigernuts can be used as a flour that is both gluten- and nut-free. Like maca, it works well in both sweet and savory recipes. My main reason for using it regularly is that is is an excellent source of prebiotic fiber that feeds and fuels your probiotic gut bacteria.
Another key ingredient is dates. A word about dates… Yes, they have a high sugar content (60 – 75%) but they are also an excellent source of B vitamins, copper, iron, potassium, and magnesium. The reason I love to use them in recipes is that they contain a particular type of fiber known as beta-d-glucan that actually helps to regulate blood sugar. And, like maca, this fiber can have beneficial impacts on cholesterol levels.
So you can see that these little energy bites are chock full of amazing beneficial ingredients but what I haven’t shared is this: They are delicious and I have been told by nearly everyone who tries these that they taste like a healthy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Do you agree? Let me know once you’ve tried a batch!
Mighty Maca Bites
Makes 25 - 30
- 12 dates, pitted & halved
- 3/4 cup tiger nut flour (plus more for rolling)
- 3/4 – 1 cup cashew butter (creamy)
- 3 T maca powder (gelatinized)
- 1 – 2 T maple syrup
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 3/4 – 1 t sea salt
- 3 – 4 T cacao powder
Put the first 6 ingredients, starting with 3/4 cup of the cashew butter, into a food processor and pulse together until a consistent, crumbly mixture is achieved. Pinch together a small amount between your fingers. If the mixture holds its form, you are ready to roll. Literally. If not, add additional cashew butter, a tablespoon at a time until it holds together when pinched.
With clean hands, roll the mixture into small balls (about 1 tablespoon). I find that warming it in my hands by first squeezing each portion in my fist several times before I begin rolling, helps the balls hold together better. If the mixture is too dry or crumbles easily, add additional cashew butter or a tablespoon or two of oil (I recommend coconut or toasted hazelnut) to the mixture by pulsing again in the food processor.
Once all of the mixture has been formed into balls, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cacao into the center of your work surface. Roll each “bite” to cover completely in the cacao. Set aside. Now, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of tiger nut flour onto a clean work surface. Roll each bite around the flour to coat.
Bites will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. But mine never last that long!