.Written by Mariana Aguilera
Inspired by my growing up in Mexico and drinking Atole(in Nahuatl ātōlli)--ancient beverage drank during pre-Hispania by the natives made of thick consistency, water, and grinded corn. I miss those mornings; waking up to a cup of Atole and accompanying my aunt to get delicious freshly-made bread and dropping off her gelatinas(jellos) to sell.
Lately, I have been trying to educate myself more and adapt a more pre-Hispanic diet; low fat, low salt, low sugars, less meat, and more plant-based dishes. But not just for the sake of nutrition, there is also a social activism aspect that I want to contribute towards. Yup, through food! Colonization in Mexico by Spain was accompanied in food with violence, classism and erasure of natives food. The natives foods(corn, beans) were looked upon as inferior foods and was one of the reasons Spain forced their foods. And here we are now, science teaching us how nutrition-dense natives foods are, making them better for us.
This rainy morning I felt like being a little creative in using pre-Hispanic ingredients and as stated inspired by the thick consistency of Atole. I am not naming or attaching to this drink the name ‘Atole’ or ‘Champurrado’’for two reasons; there’s a conversation as to what makes an Atole an Atole and if you add chocolate, it now becomes a ‘Champurrado’ is one opinion. Secondly, I felt I would not be honoring my ancestors influenced foods and their struggle properly because I’m making my own mix and not how they intended it. Yes, I also can’t stand when some people slap avocado on a pizza and call it Mexican. Ugh! So, we shall call it Nutritious Hot Beverage Made With Pre-Hispanic Ancient Ingredients. Let’s get started!
2.5 Cups of filtered water
1/4 Cup of Grounded Amaranth
1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds
1 Tablespoon of Grounded Raw Unsweetened Cacao
1 Teaspoon of Grounded Maca
1 Handful of broken Mexican Cinnamon sticks
Honey to taste
1. Put cinnamon and filtered water in a pot. Bring to boil for 3 minutes. Cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Take out cinnamon sticks. I strained mines for ease.
Cinnamon is a native cultivating ingredient that was brought to Spain and then spread to the world. Studies show it is packed with health benefits such as antioxidants and anti-fungal properties.
Note: I’m not using milk. Some experts state milk was not part of the native diet. It was the Spaniards who introduced it with the bringing of cows. Other experts state that natives had milk from llamas and alpacas already domesticated by natives prior to the arriving of the Spaniards.
2. Turn on the heat to low. Add grounded Amaranth very slowly as you quickly wisk. Did I mention you will get an arm work out? You will notice the mix getting thick. Keep wisking. Stoves vary in heat, it should be towards low, low. It shouldn’t be bubbling up and if you notice too much of a thickening, add a bit of water to get to a drinking consistency. No worries, you will just have more to drink.
Amaranth is a surviving ingredient. Among some of its benefits, it’s nutritious in fiber, antioxidants, gluten-free, and loaded with magnesium.
3. Add the chia seed in the same manner as the Amaranth.
Chia seeds date back to the Mayan and Aztecs and are nutrient-senses and rich in antioxidants.
4. Add the cacao. Again, in the same manner as the chia seeds and Amaranth. Is your arm getting tired yet? Hey at least you’re not grinding the cacao by hand.
Cacao was another ingredient the Spaniards brought to Europe from the natives. It birthed chocolate and is rich in antioxidants and magnesium.
5. Add the Maca. Yes, in the same manner as the ingredients above. Slowly and quickly wisking. If not it will lump.
Maca is a popular ingredient of natives in South America, Peru to be exact. It is high in amino acids.
6. After all ingredients have been mixed and you obtained a nice creamy thick consistency, turn off the heat. Add honey to taste and serve.
Honey is loaded with nutritional and healing values. It is also an ingredient that was domesticated by the natives before to the Spaniards colonization.