Ancient Incan Inspired Yacon Smoothies

Do you want a taste a yacon smoothie, an ancient health drink popular among the Incas?


| Summer 2014


Anyone skimming the internet these days is bound to notice the high-energy hoopla surrounding miracle cures promised by the boosters of yacon extract, yacon syrup, and other yacon elixirs. The valid medical properties of yacon have been well-known for centuries: South Americans have long understood yacon’s value as a “fruit” useful to diabetics. Yacon does not cure diabetes; its special sugars are simply diabetic neutral. In short, it’s an alternative to food that diabetics should not or cannot eat.

You’re not familiar with yacon? It’s still a specialty crop in the United States, but due to its low calorie content, dietitians with one eye on weight loss have started putting it on health spa menus. The newest trend is the yacon smoothie.

The only hitch is that the idea is not entirely new: the Incas considered yacon a health drink many centuries before anyone knew how to spell the word smoothie. In fact, they probably invented the idea. Let’s review a little bit about the history of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius).

Inca Tonic

Yacon (pronounced ja-KON) is a Spanish adaptation of two Quechua words yacu and unu, terms for two different kinds of water. The core idea behind the Quechua name is “water plant,” something you eat raw for its juice, or something you drink. So in that sense the original Inca name meant smoothie, at least to them. Yacon thrives in just about any area that receives consistent moisture and moderate heat. The plants need a long growing season, and the tubers form in fall when the length of day shortens.



The New World twist to this story is that yacon is not like sugar cane dripping with syrup. It’s a crunchy tuber shaped very much like a yam or sweet potato. When eaten raw it has the snap of apples combined with a hint of celery. This unique fruit-or-veggie flavor is one reason yacon is so adaptable to smoothie recipes: you can make a fruit drink from it, or a vegetable mix, or a combination of both. Thus yacon is an ideal foundation ingredient.

If you travel to Peru or Bolivia where yacon is still an integral part of local diet, you will find it sold among the fruits and melons. And you will also see street vendors whose sole product consists of various kinds of yacon smoothies. So much for reinventing the wheel!







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 38% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265