PurpleDrinkSince I can remember I have been drinking a sweet and delicious, purple mystery drink. Back then I didn’t know much about what I was drinking. I knew I was the only one drinking this in my town and I knew it was native to Peru where my parents are from. It wasn’t until years later that I came to appreciate how great this purple concoction was for my health.

The purple drink that I speak of is called “Chicha Morada” (Chee-Cha Moe-ra-duh). The drink is made of purple corn, water, apples, pineapple, cinnamon, limes, cloves and sugar (I’ve been using Raw Blue Agave as a sweetener). The main ingredient of “Chicha Morada” is purple corn. This particular type of corn is a Peruvian super food, which is cultivated in the coastal areas as well as in the mountains at almost ten thousand feet above sea level. Peru is actually the only place where it can be grown successfully. There are very few purple plants found in nature and the great benefits of this corn are just as rare. The native Peruvians (the Incas) revered purple corn and with the studies coming out on this crop, perhaps we should as well.

Purple corn contains a variety of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) including massive amounts of phenolics and anthocyanins. Crops with the highest phenolic and anthocyanin content also have the highest antioxidant activity. Anthocyaninins are a type of complex flavonoid that produces blue, purple or red colors. Anthocyaninins are anti-inflammatory and encourage connective tissue regeneration. This makes them powerful antioxidants that keep us looking young and protected from disease. Anthocyanins promote blood flow and also reduce cholesterol. It appears that anthocyaninins may stabilize and protect capillaries and blood vessels from free radical damage, and they have been shown to promote collagen formation (which is great for our skin).

Studies show that a diet rich in polyphenolic compounds is associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Recent research in both animals and humans have shown that increasing polyphenol intake protects against atherosclerosis, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood clots and elevates antioxidant capacity of the blood. What is even more interesting is that purple corn has also shown to have a higher antioxidant capacity than blueberries.

In Japan, they have been studying the benefits and effects of purple corn for many years now. A study by Tsuda et al in 2003 revealed that purple corn is an excellent fighter against obesity and diabetes. Another Japanese study at Nagoya University showed that the pigment in purple corn impedes the development of cancer in the colon which is one of the more dangerous cancers out there.

There is an ancient Hopi prophecy that says when purple corn comes to the West, that is a sign that great changes are happening on the planet. Let the great changes begin with my “Chicha Morada” recipe below. Enjoy!

My recipe for Chicha Morada:

– 5 ears of purple corn on the cob (Can find at latino/hispanic supermarket)

– One whole organic pineapple (skin and all)

– 4 whole cloves

– 1 large stick of cinnamon

– 1 small organic apple cut in pieces

– sugar (another option as a sweetener is Raw Blue Agave)

– water

– 8 qt stewpot

– strainer

– very large bowl/pot

Directions

Cut off the leafy green top of the pineapple and the bottom and discard.

Cut skin off the pineapple and place in pot.

Cut the edible meat part of the pineapple off of the core and place aside—were not using this part so you can eat it later.

Add the core of the pineapple to the large pot with the skin. Add cloves, cinnamon stick and the diced apple (the limes will be added upon serving).

We’ll be making 3 batches with these same ingredients, each consecutive boil taking longer. For the first batch, fill up the pot with 16 cups of water, leaving about 2-3 inches at the top and bring to a hard boil. Boil for about 15 minutes, until water becomes a deep purple color that resembles a dark red wine.

Collect the purple water in a very large bowl using a strainer (I find it easiest to remove the ingredients from the water with tongs, then pouring the purple water through a strainer into the large bowl).

Throw all the same fruits and corn back into the pot and start the second batch, adding another 16 cups of fresh water. This time boil it for about 20 minutes, until it becomes a deep purple color. Separate the purple water from the solids again and mix it in with the water from the first batch. Repeat process, adding only 8 cups of fresh water this time.

Boil this batch for about 25-30 minutes, until it becomes a deep purple color. Take care to push the corn to the very bottom to ensure that the water covers it completely. The corn will open up and reveal its white kernel. This is how you know you have gotten everything you can out of it. Strain and dispose of the fruit and corn. Mix the purple water from all three batches together.

Now you have the Chicha. While it is still warm, add sugar to taste. Make sure to over sweeten the Chicha because the limes will counteract the sweetness. Chill. Upon serving, squeeze the juice of 2 limes per pitcher. Enjoy!