One the best reasons for living in Guatemala is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. The local market or ?Mercado? is packed with delicious, cheap produce, including a number of superfoods.
1. Chia Seeds
These tiny seeds are packed with nutrition. Just one ounce of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and a whopping 5 grams of Omega-3 fats. They?re also great sources of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and calcium.
Chia has been shown to lower blood pressure and help stabilize blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics. Legend has it that Mayas used chia to improve their performance.
Where to Find Chia: Head into the interior of the Antigua market and look for vendors with bags of spices and grains. Ask for ?chan.?
How to Use Chia: Guatemalans mix chia with water and lime juice for a refreshing drink. You can also mix the seeds into a smoothie, oatmeal or add them to baking. I’ve even used them to make “pudding” by mixing a couple of tablespoons into half a cup of milk, adding cocoa and sweetener and letting it sit overnight in the fridge.
Boring as it may sound, spinach is such an awesome superfood that it has to be mentioned here. Like all leafy dark greens, spinach is high in antioxidants and iron. It?s also full of magnesium, potassium and calcium.
Where to Find Spinach: In the center of the interior market in Antigua, you?ll find huge tables full of vegetables. Ask for ?espinaca.?
How to Use Spinach: Wash your spinach carefully, since it can harbor bacteria, then make a simple salad. You can also wilt it with garlic or toss a couple of handfuls into a blender with some fruit and yogurt for a delicious green smoothie. I often saute it with a little olive oil and garlic.
Fresh ginger root is great for your digestion and can reduce flatulence. It also suppresses the appetite, boosts circulation and reduces nausea. It also adds great flavor to many dishes. A little ginger added to your soup works as a decongestant if you have a cold. If you need a boost in your love life, it?s also an aphrodisiac.
Where to Find Ginger: Inside the Antigua market, look for any large vegetable booth or a stand with dried spices. Ask for ?jengibre.? You?ll be given a fresh root, which is sold by the pound.
How to Use Ginger: You can peel and grate your ginger root into any dish that needs a little extra zing. It also makes a delicious tea when sliced, boiled, and sweetened with a little raw honey. You might want to try your hand at making homemade ginger beer or candied ginger, too. I use it in stir-fries.
Coconut is low carb, but high in fat and great for those who suffer from malnutrition. Eating coconut helps kill off fungi, viruses and yeast in the body and it even prevents tooth decay. Fresh coconut is useful in preventing high blood sugar and strokes, as well.
Where to Find Coconut: Follow the road through the market to the very back where you?ll see a pile of coconuts. Ask for ?un coco entero? to get a whole, peeled coconut with the water inside.
How to Use Coconut: You can also include the tasty flesh in both savory and sweet dishes, make your own coconut milk or cream, or grate it to use in baking.
Papaya contains large amounts of Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as antioxidants. It?s also very low calorie, making it a terrific snack. If you?re diabetic, papaya is one of the best fruits you can eat.
The seeds are also supposed to be good for parasites. Blend them into a smoothie to get them down, since they are rather peppery!
Where to Find Papaya: The fruit vendors at the back of the market (follow the road through the market and around to the very back) sell papayas.
How to Use Papaya: Guatemalans squeeze a lime over the fruit before eating it, but you can also use it in smoothies and salads. I’m not a fan, so I generally hide it in a smoothie.
What’s your favorite Antigua market superfood find?