Pichuberries: Peruvian Wonder #3


Pic and recipe from Peru Delights. 

The pichuberry (also known as golden berries, cape gooseberries, or Inca berries) is a total superfruit! It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phenols (high in antioxidants). Other properties of this unique fruit:

  • Jam-packed with cancer-fighting phytochemicals called withanolides that have been demonstrated to slow the growth of tumors
  • High in vitamin D; rare for a fruit. About ½ cup provides 160 IU of vitamin D (~25% of the daily value)
  • Great for controlling blood sugar levels because it is low on the glycemic index (25), high in fiber (5.5 grams), and relatively high in protein (2 grams). This is a great combination for diabetics and anyone looking to follow a healthy diet.

How To Use Pichuberries

Pichuberries can be used in an array of dishes. The fruit resembles a small yellow tomato, like a tomatillo. They possess a unique sweet, mildly tart flavor perfect for savory and sweet dishes. Some recipe ideas here. Truly diverse, savory dish ideas include chili, salsa, muffins, skewers, or quinoa salad (pictured) and for sweet dishes add them to cereal, yogurt, popsciles, or dunk them into melted dark chocolate and make frozen chocolate pichuberries! Yum.

Edited by Tamara Cabrero 

Maca: Peruvian Wonder #2


Maca is a healing and rejuvenating root plant commonly known as “Peruvian Ginseng.” It is an adaptogen, which means it raises the physical body’s state of resistance to disease. It is typically taken as a pill, liquid extract or as powdered maca root (my favorite). As with most plant-based foods, color matters! Different maca types can be yellow, black and red. In addition to being high in calcium, iron, vitamin C and amino acids (protein), maca has other beneficial healing properties. To name a few:

  • Has the ability to regulate, support, and balance hormonal systems making it essential for the adrenal glands and therefore stress management
  • Increases energy levels and fights fatigue, specifically black maca
  • Improves sexual dysfunction and sexual desire in both in men and women (postmenopausal as well) as early as 14 days from ingestion
  • Increases fertility by raising sperm count and motility
  • Improves bone health- both black and red maca
  • Reduces anxiety, depression, and improves overall mood, shown in small study including postmenopausal women
  • Influences memory and learning, specifically black maca

How To Use & Store Maca

Powdered maca root can be added to smoothies, green juices, shakes, salads, yogurt, or simply mixed in water. Some experts suggest taking it on empty stomach at least 15 minutes before your meal for better absorption. Since maca is sensitive to light, oxygen, and humidity, I suggest storing in the fridge or freezer. Even though maca has received much attention over the past decade, research is still limited. Avoid using while pregnant and/or breastfeeding. 

Have you tried maca yet? 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

Pic from Veg Kitchen. Great article too!

Edited by Tamara Cabrero 

Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 193496.

Amaranth: Peruvian Wonder #1


Peru is having quite a culinary moment. The United Nations declared last year, the “International Year of Quinoa”, quinoa being one of Peru’s most well known food exports. The following three posts will talk about the amazing ingredients of traditional Peruvian cuisine. You might even call them super!

Superfoods are touted as functional foods that exceed basic nutritional content. They don’t just offer macronutrients (carb, protein, fat) but contain amazing nutrients that go beyond basic nutrition. In addition to quinoa, some Peruvian superfoods (or “whole foods” as I prefer to call them) are papaya, cacao, yacón (similar to sweet potato), Ají peppers, purple potatoes and, my personal favorites: maca, pichuberries and  kiwicha, commonly known as amaranth.

Peruvian Wonder #1: KIWICHA or AMARANTH

Known in the United States as amaranth or colloquially “mini quinoa”, Kiwicha is a small grain noted for its dense nutritional content, slight nutty flavor, and chewy texture. In addition, it’s known for its healing properties; to this day it is still used during Day of the Dead festivities.

Nutrition Facts:

This ancient grain is packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. A ½ cup serving of cooked kiwicha provides 125 kcal, 4.7 grams protein, 2 grams of healthy fat, and 2.5 grams of fiber (mostly soluble fiber). 

Some other attributes worth mentioning:  

  • Anti-aging due to its anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties, specifically the high content of phenolic acids, carotenoids, flavonoids as well as an agent called squaline. 
  • Cardiopropertective! Studies have shown how kiwicha lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides. The soluble fiber may something to do with that!  It also helps manage blood pressure. Two thumbs up for heart health!
  • Optimal plant protein meaning it contains all essential amino acids – specifically high in lysine, which is normally low in other grains.
  • Naturally gluten-free!

How To Use Amaranth 

Amaranth can be used in pilafs, added to salads and snack bars, or can be used to make granola or oatmeal (check out our very own #NYHRC RD oatmeal recipe!). You can also toast it quickly in a pan and “pop it” to a perfect consistency for breakfast cereals or energy bars. Another way of using kiwicha is by adding it to meat loaf or quick breads for a nutrition punch!

How to Store 

Like most grains, I like to keep them in a cool place, usually in a mason jar or a well-sealed container.

Pomegranate Amaranth Oatmeal (4 servings) 


  • 1 cup uncooked amaranth
  • 2½ cups unsweetened almond milk or skim milk 
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping


  1. Bring milk/milk alternative to a gentle boil in a lidded pot
  2. Stir in the amaranth and sliced bananas and lower the heat
  3. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until grains have absorbed most of the liquid.
  4. Top with pomegranate arils and cinnamon. Voila!

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 267 calories, 5.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 123 g sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 9.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 8.5 g protein.

Don’t forget to check out the following posts on Peruvian Food Wonders! 

Picture by John Lambert Pearson on Flickr.