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Casa de Fruta Organic Mesquite Flour

Casa de Fruta's Organic Mesquite Flour adds hints of cinnamon and chocolate but no smoke

By Kate Thornberry, Fri., Feb. 15, 2008

Casa de Fruta Organic Mesquite Flour

www.casadefruta.com

When the word "mesquite" appears in an article about food, the mind jumps immediately to the smoky flavors of the grill. But mesquite flour, made from the seedpods of the mesquite tree, tastes nothing like smoke. Unexpectedly, ground mesquite seedpods taste like an aromatic blend of cinnamon, chocolate, and coffee. With our usual human absurdity, we go halfway around the world to procure these popular flavorings, even as we are surrounded by mesquite trees and curse them as weeds.

Mesquite flour was a staple food of Native Americans from Texas to California, partly because mesquite trees thrive in arid climates where other crops wither. Mesquite pods were one of the major (if not one of the most important) foods of the desert Apache, Pima, Cahuilla, Maricopa, Yuma, Mohave, and Hopi tribes. Like many other desert plants, the mesquite tree superconcentrates nutrients in its seeds to compensate for the harsh environment. Consequently, it is so nutritious that many consider it a "superfood." Mesquite flour is very high in magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, fiber, and digestible proteins (including lysine). It also acts as an antioxidant, and its glycemic index is low in spite of its sweet taste. It can be used as either a gluten-free flour or a seasoning.

You can get started by just adding a few tablespoons of mesquite flour to your cookie, cake, or flan recipes, simultaneously adding superfood nutrition and unforgettable flavor; or, you can use any of the recipes online at Casa de Fruta. Chefs are beginning to get excited about using mesquite flour in South­western regional cuisines, causing an explosion of new recipes on the Internet.

To see for myself, I made mesquite oat­meal chocolate-chip cookies, a recipe recommended by chef Heidi Swanson. The results were delectable. As the cookies baked, the entire house was filled with the amazing cinnamon/chocolate aroma of the mesquite flour. When they were done, my husband pronounced them among the best cookies he has ever eaten; light and aromatic, the melting chocolate chips carry the flavor forward, while the mesquite flour provides a subtle background.

Many recipes are available online, from mesquite distributors and Southwestern chefs alike. Locally, this superfood is available at Whole Foods Downtown and Central Market; $5 for a 7-ounce bag.

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