Monday, December 23, 2013

{Book Club}: Peruvian Power Foods

When I step foot into a library or bookstore, I inevitably end up in the cookbook section. When I travel, I often pack cookbooks for something to read. When I visit my friends and family, you can anticipate me scanning through their collection if I get the opportunity. And I’m sure many food lovers can relate.  Cookbooks have this way of sparking a sense of creativity and ambition.
I was so excited when I recently added a new cookbook to my repertoire: Peruvian Power Foods. Not only it is packed with delicious and healthy recipes, it was developed by an award-winning registered dietitian, Manuel Villacorta. To develop the recipes, Manuel returned to his homeland in Peru to experience 18 of the world’s greatest superfoods in their natural habitat. The result is an inventive recipe collection guaranteed to get anyone out of their cooking slump.

What makes this book so unique is it’s emphasize on nutritionally-packed “power” foods such pichuberry, maca, and kiwicha – staple foods to Peruvians, yet new to many of those in North America. At first I was skeptical that I may not be able to find many ingredients in the book, but I quickly learned that these Peruvian power foods may be purchased in mainstream markets like Bristol Farms, Safeway, Whole Foods and Vons. 

Manuel’s websites, EatingFree and PeruvianPowerFoods also carry a good number of the power foods referenced in the book, so they’re a good starting point, too. 

At the beginning of each chapter, the properties that truly make each “superfood” a nutrient-rich ingredient and worthy of your attention are described. For example, I was so excited to learn that eating 3 ounces of pichuberries may help you reach your daily recommended intake for vitamin D. A serving of this super fruit provides a lofty 39 percent of your daily requirement based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Following each description is a small collection of recipes highlighting each of the power foods as an ingredient. With recipes as creative as Hearty Pichuberry Quinoa Bread and No-Bake Kiwicha Bars, it's difficult to decide a starting point.

It’s also worth mentioning that familiar foods such as avocados, beans, sweet potatoes, and artichokes make appearances in their own chapters. It was fun creating the Peruvian Stuffed Avocados (see recipe below) and the Lima Bean with Choclo and Feta Salad.

Limo Bean with Choclo and Feta Salad

This book is a exciting, unique culinary experience that will not only make your tastebuds happy, the recipes are good for your body, too. And for those that are picking up last minute Christmas gifts, it will make for a fun and festive gift for the food lovers in your life.

 Happy holidays!

Peruvian Stuffed Avocados


2 avocados
½ cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup peas, fresh or frozen
¼ cup steamed beets
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste


1.      Slice the avocados in half lengthwise, remove the pits, and peel off the skin. Set the avocado halves aside.

2.      Combine the quinoa, peas, beets, and lime juice in a bowl and gently fold together until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

3.      Fill the avocados with the quinoa mixture and serve.

Stay tuned for our next book review, Younger Next Week, written by the wonderful registered dietitian, Elisa Zied.

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