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Dietician touts nutritious foods from Peru

Posted by Elena del Valle on February 7, 2014

Peruvian Power Foods

Peruvian Power Foods

Photos: Health Communications, Inc.

Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD dedicated two years to researching particularly nutritious foods, traveling to his native Peru to connect with chefs, farmers, food bloggers, fishermen, and people in general about that country’s indigenous foods. As part from his journey of discovery the dietician with 16 years of experience created 100 recipes and took 2,000 photos many of which are featured in Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes (Health Communications, Inc. $18.95), a 310-page paperback book he wrote with the help of coauthor Jamie Shaw, a writer, branding specialist and recipe creator. The recipe examples include breakfast granola with lucuma, white bean hummus with sacha inchi, pichuberry muffins, maca shake, and truffles with cacao and camu camu.

“The reception has been great. Peruvian cuisine is a hot topic at the moment,” Villacorta said by email in response to a question about the public acceptance to his new book published October 2013. “Chefs are heralding the cuisine with the enthusiasm they once reserved for France. Peruvian restaurants are popping up in major cities everywhere. On his Parts Unknown program, Anthony Bourdain dubbed Peru’s cuisine one of the most underrated in the world. Clearly, something was happening in my home country. And while it’s partially due to the innovative preparations and exciting cross-cultural dishes being developed, Peru is also home to thousands of foods found nowhere else on the planet, many of which are staggering in their content of potent nutrients. As a native Peruvian, I felt there was no better time than the present to share my knowledge about the foods that originate from the region. And as a registered dietitian, I was interested in the health properties of these foods. This book helped me marry the two, health and cooking.”

Manuel Villacorta, author, Peruvian Power Foods

Manuel Villacorta, MS, author, Peruvian Power Foods

The book highlights 18 foods believed to be particularly high in nutrient value. They are pichuberry, maca, cacao, kiwicha, avocado, aji, camu camu, purple corn, artichokes, sacha inchi, lucuma, beans,  purple potatoes, cilantro, papaya, yacon, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. Each food section features nutritional aspects, culinary uses, and recipes.

“Yes. Moreover, I’m especially finding the Latino population to be very receptive, and have been asked on many occasions, if the book will be translated into Spanish,” the nutritionist said when asked about the popularity of the book among immigrant families.

While some like artichokes, cilantro, sweet potatoes, beans and avocado are easy to find many others are not prevalent in supermarkets. Fresh pichuberries, for example, seem particularly challenging to find. In Appendix B and by email in response to a question about how to purchase the ingredients for the recipes he said: “Latino markets and/or regular supermarkets like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and Vons. Brands used in the book were Sacha Vida, Navitas, Barry Farm, and Bobs Red Mill.”

Villacorta is also author of Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep the Weight off for Good. He served as a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. He is a health blog contributor to The Huffington Post, an on-air contributor to Univision, and a health and lifestyle contributor for Fox News Latino. He owns a San Francisco-based private practice.

 Peruvian Power Foods

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