It’s no secret that sugar is not great for our health. It increases inflammation, causes weight gain, accelerates skin aging and raises our chronic disease risk, just to name a few. So, what’s a health-conscious person with a sweet tooth meant to do? Live a sugar-celibate life? That wouldn’t be very fun. Instead, you can use natural sweeteners with health benefits!
There is one in particular that gets my stamp of approval. Let me introduce you to lucuma…
Lucuma is a South American fruit similar to an avocado but with a soft orange flesh that can be dehydrated and ground into powder. Lucuma’s maple syrup-like taste delivers a subtle sweetness to whatever it’s included in. This sweet and delicious fruit comes with nutritional benefits and healing properties. Specifically, it is rich in beta-carotene, B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium and other trace minerals.
Low on the glycemic index, lucuma contains complex carbohydrates and fiber so it is digested and absorbed slowly which mitigates a spike in blood sugar. For these reasons, I recommend nutrient-dense lucuma for adding sweetness to food over other “empty calorie” sweeteners.
Known as the “Gold of the Incas,” lucuma is used throughout South America as a topping for ice cream and a sweetener for desserts. Below are some ways you can use lucuma powder:
- Add a few tablespoons to pancake batter
- Blend into your morning smoothie
- Make your own lucuma-flavored vegan ice cream
- Use it as the sweetener in your matcha latte
- Incorporate into baked goods, like in these sweet potato lucuma brownies
- Make a festive low-sugar holiday bark – get the recipe below!
Festive Chocolate Lucuma Bark
Yield 6 servings
This colorful bark is packed with vitamins and minerals.
- ½ cup virgin organic coconut oil
- ½ cup raw cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons lucuma powder
- 1 tablespoon tahini paste
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of Celtic sea salt
- 2 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons goji berries
- 2 tablespoons coconut flakes
- Pinch of Celtic salt (optional)
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cacao powder, lucuma powder. Whisk constantly to stop any lumps forming. Add tahini and maple syrup, continuing to whisk. Stir in the cinnamon and salt, then remove from the heat.
- Set the pan aside for about 5 minutes so the mixture cools slightly and begins to set.
- Pour the mixture evenly onto the baking paper – you want the bark to be about 5–8 mm thick.
- Scatter the toppings over the chocolate mixture and finish with a sprinkle of extra salt if you wish.
- Put it in the freezer for 30–40 minutes or until set firm. You can then break it into irregular shards. For the best texture, enjoy it straight from the freezer.