Everything You Need to Know About Moringa, Original Mami of the Superfoods

My mom has been making green concoctions for me every single morning for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually asked her what these grassy elixirs were really made of.  

Let me introduce you to my mom; she’s been vegetarian her whole life, organic farmer, nature guardian (I remember her threatening kids who would throw rocks at penguins saying she was the environment police and they would go to jail if they didn’t stop), Inca seed collector, Agnihotra (ancient fire ritual) practitioner, pioneer of organic farming, anti-GMO warrior in Peru, coca leaf chewer, baking-soda-is-the-solution-for-everything and swallow-whole-cloves-of-garlic-so-you-won’t-get-bit-by-mosquitos proponent. She most definitely wasn’t the kind of mom that would serve mac and cheese when my friends came over or offer cookies and soda, but rather greet guests with a feast of brown rice and quinoa, sweet potatoes and yuca arepas,  kale, beets, hummus, seaweed, avocado, and plentiful bowls of lettuces and leaves of every possible shade of green. The highlight was her apple crisp pie and the pitchers of stevia-sweetened cold chicha morada (purple corn drink) in the fridge, if you ever felt like having something “sweet.”

The road to Brooklyn–where I’ve been living for almost 6 years now– has been a windy one with frequent turns and deviations, all along having to reconcile with my mom’s voice in my head insisting on watercress and apple cider vinegar. Did I feel that her radical ways of viewing the world and health were getting in the way of me having fun and “being bad?”  Definitely.  But as years passed and I noticed that being unhealthy wasn’t even an option for me because I would just instantly fall into a hole of depression, her advice of getting back to health, breathing deeply, and eating consciously– which once seemed like a burden and obligation– actually became my life’s most special and valuable asset.

Fast forward to writing this from my Brooklyn apartment, with no one to magically whip out a green juice in the morning, I really appreciate and even fantasize about the potions I had every morning growing up. And now I know what went into them!  Ready?

Moringa, wheatgrass, aloe, fresh mint, yacon, lemon, ginger and stevia.

BOOM. You basically don’t need to eat anything else for the whole day after this chock full of nutrients. Just kidding.  But one thing I’m not kidding and that you need to know about is MORINGA.

Moringa oleifera is her full name, and it’s the latest superfood, generating a huge hype everywhere. It’s a powdered tea made out of dried moringa tree leaves that are highly nutritious and unusually rich in protein. Moringa contains all nine essential amino acids, and is especially high in fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. It is one of the foods with highest antioxidant power (46 antioxidants) in the planet including loads of vitamins A, C and E. It has 17 times more calcium than milk, 25 times more iron than spinach, and 15 times more potassium than bananas!

Moringa has phytonutrients that rejuvenate the body at a cellular level, especially the liver.  So if you’ve been hitting the town lately, you know what to drink the next morning.

Although it just became the new hip pulverized tea in America, this superfood has been used in Asia, Africa and  South America as a medicinal herb for years.

The tree thrives in many tropical regions as well as in dry areas, and it’s a staple in malnourished areas of the world because it’s so nutritious. There’s growing biomedical evidence to back up moringa’s phytopharmaceutical potential in anti-inflammatory, cardio- protective, anti-asthmatic, antibiotic, and anti-diabetic properties.

To the naked eye, moringa looks very similar to matcha, but it’s not. They both provide antioxidants, slow down aging, protect brain and heart health, fight inflammation, and increase immune function; however, moringa is a lot higher in nutrient profile than matcha. Sorry matcha lovers! They also don’t taste similar and moringa doesn’t have any caffeine; nevertheless, I highly recommend it for energy and to get things moving in the morning!

This is how you can drink it:

Mix 1 tsp of moringa in a cup of hot water.

(I don’t mind the grassy taste, but if you’re not a fan, you can add a few drops of stevia)

There are great brands selling it in the US like Organic India, although I take the one from my mom’s farm in Lima, which I mix also mix with spirulina and graviola.

As I said, the taste is herbal and even grassy, so I wouldn’t recommend it in desserts of any kind.  

You can also take capsules if the tea really turns you off or take cue from our friends at Well+Good and try this yummy Moringa Latte recipe. 

My mom says she was born in the wrong generation, and I truly believe that to be true. She is so ahead of her time, living and eating in very… well, let’s just say unusual ways before the superfood game came even close to being “hip” and “cool.”  

“Did you drink your moringa?” I can still hear my mother’s voice as I rush out the door. “You say you want to be tall? Then finish your drink!”

Moringa, moringa, moringa— truly this powdered leaf has superpowers that continue to blow my mind every morning, one grassy sip at a time.

Check it out.

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