Pinole, Another Ancient Superfood on the Rise

Photo by: STEVE SANDO/RANCHO GORDO

STEVE SANDO/RANCHO GORDO

Have you heard of pinole (pih-nole)? It may soon be giving quinoa a run for its money. While this trendy superfood may be new to the modern marketplace in the U.S., it has been around for centuries.

Pinole is a grain mixture, made predominantly of heirloom blue and purple maize that’s roasted with raw cacao beans, then ground into a fine mixture. Served a multitude of ways, it’s most commonly combined with milk to form a thick, warm porridge.

Similar in texture to oatmeal or grits, it’s a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Just two ounces of pinole provides 7 grams of fiber, 40 grams of complex carbohydrates, and 100 milligrams of anthocyanins; a specific antioxidant that may help reduce rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer and boost cognitive function.

In addition to being a great breakfast choice, pinole has historically been used as a source of fuel for endurance athletes. The Tarahumara Indians of northwestern Mexico, known for long-distance running, consume pinole as their daily staple. These native people, whose lives are highlighted in the book Born to Run, relied on two things to fuel their hundred mile journeys: chia seeds and pinole.

Of course, starting your day with this cornmeal porridge won’t turn you into an ultra marathoner, but can be part of a nutritious breakfast. Much like other complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, and farro, pinole is a good source of energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals. While it’s slowly making its way into retail shelves, you can often find pinole online (Rancho Gordo sells a 1 pound bag for for $5.95), or at or at your favorite international or Mexican grocery store. If you’re looking to switch up your typical bowl of oats, give pinole a try.

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Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge, a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.”

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Photo courtesy of Rancho Gordo.

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