How To: Feel Alive Again with Maca Root

Feel Alive Again with Maca Root

I'm sure I'm not the only one on here that has googled "Why am I always tired?"... and I'm definitely not alone when I say that all of the advice I've found so far is useless:

  • Go to bed early. (Wow, you think?)
  • Don't skip meals. (Real talk: if I skip meals, it's under extreme schedule duress.)
  • Engage in more physical activity. (Which is what I tell myself every January, and yet...)

Too bad there isn't a search filter for "stupid, obvious answers."

But don't turn your back on Google just yet, though: buried deep within the recesses of its search engine lies maca, a miracle smoothie ingredient that may help your exhaustion!

What Is Maca?

According to the University of Michigan Health System, this increasingly popular ingredient is a root vegetable related to radishes and turnips, and is native to the Andes mountains of Peru. Maca, like quinoa and corn, is considered a food staple to the locals—in other words, nothing to get excited about.

But it does happen to have an interesting myth behind it that has caused its recent popularity. Apparently, Incan warriors ate copious amounts of maca root before battles—which purportedly gave them incredible strength and often led them to victory. It also led them to, ahem, more lusty conquests as well.

Hide your women, ye conquered peoples... the maca-stuffed Incas are on the prowl.

Image by Marek Uliasz/123RF

Okay, real talk: there's no historical evidence that this rumor is true, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were a genius marketing campaign. But maca still deserves your attention—because there's a chance that it may have a positive effect on your energy levels.

Wakes You Up Before You Go Go

When the clock hits 3 p.m. and you start to feel groggy, you may want to skip the coffee and go for the maca smoothie, instead. Gustavo F. Gonzales published an article in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal stating that scientific experiments may show a link between maca and increased energy and performance. A dose of maca in the afternoon may keep you awake and productive without the jitters and crash that results from caffeine in coffee.

Additionally, Gonzales states that maca, especially the black variety, may increase our ability to memorize and learn new things—natives in the central Peruvian Andes often attribute improved school performance in children to maca. Although there are no concrete studies that prove the correlation, I think it would be fair to say that it wouldn't hurt to give maca a try if you're cramming for a test. (Unless that test is today, you slacker.)

Image via The Maca Team

How's It Taste?

Okay, so maca may be the ticket to boosting you out of that midday funk, but let's get to the real question: what the heck does this stuff taste like?

As a maca user, I can tell you that maca tastes earthy, with a hint of nuttiness. And some maca powders have reminded me of butterscotch. Since it isn't normally used as the main ingredient in a recipe, its earthy flavor is easily camouflaged by other ingredients. If you'd like to bring out its subtle nutty flavor, though, it pairs well with peanut butter or almond butter.

Have Maca? Apply Liberally To...

You can buy maca powder in many health food stores, some Whole Foods, and, of course, online from Amazon or other retailers. This powder makes a great addition to any of the following:

  • smoothies
  • hot chocolate
  • granola bars
  • baked goods (breakfast muffins, cookies, brownies, etc.)
  • pancakes

Veg Kitchen recommends anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of maca to any given recipe, depending on how maca-flavored you like your food.

Have Your Maca & Eat It, Too

Let's start with the obvious: maca is a super-easy addition to your morning smoothie. Blissful Basil has a creamy, vitamin-rich almond butter maca smoothie. Bananas, almonds, and maca—yum.

Image by Ashely/Blissful Basil

Mariela, author of Tasty Plan, adds maca to her banana power pancakes. I'm really digging the simplicity of this recipe, as its only ingredients are bananas, eggs, maca, and coconut oil.

Also, they're called power pancakes. How can you not be interested in eating something that sounds that awesome?

Image by Mariela Alvarez/Tasty Plan

If this is all starting to sound a little too healthy for you, Ana Stanciu of Hello Glow combines maca and chocolate—woohoo, chocolate!—in her maca chocolate energy bars.

Image by Ana Stanciu/Hello Glow

If you're itching for more flavorful maca recipes, I recommend checking out Nutrias Naturals. Their recipes run the gamut from sweet to savory, and you're sure to find a winner in the extensive list.

Make with the Maca

The next time your energy levels take a dip, remember: maca may be the key to getting you across the finish line. And if the finish line is your couch after a long day of work, then more power to you—literally.

Have you tried maca in the past or made especially tasty recipes with it? Let us know if this power powder worked for you in the comments below.

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