Baobab Tree, Morondava . Photo Credit - Bernard Gagnon
Baobab Tree, Morondava. Photo Credit – Bernard Gagnon

If you were to visit West Africa today, you’d be in for a big surprise.
If you were to visit West Africa today, you’d surely not believe your eyes.
For every tree you ever thought there was
Won’t surprise you as much as this one because
Within these trees, where nobody sees, lies a magnificent secret
 
For every tree you ever thought there was
Won’t surprise you as much as this one because
Beneath the leaves, where nobody sees, hide the ‘fruits of life’, for as long as they please
And today is the day you’ll learn all about the Baobab

Forgive me for not being able to turn off my ‘mothering’ instincts, but the above attempt at a nursery rhyme, sounded a whole lot better in my head when sung to the tune of ‘Teddy bears’ Picnic’.

Nursery rhymes aside, I do, genuinely want to share with you a recent discovery of mine that will reform your idea of what a superfood is. Get ready for all those acai and goji berries in your pantry to be accompanied by another magnificent wonder of nature, that until recently has been a secret only the native people of West Africa have known about, for the centuries that they have shared life with their land.

The baobab tree itself, which has been known to grow up to 100ft tall, will actually surprise you to witness. It looks much like an upside down tree with its shallow roots sparsely displayed up high and its branches buried deep in the dirt. Its trunk is astoundingly wide where it stores much of its water content to survive its arid surroundings. Greater than 30,000 gallons of water per trunk is not unusual for this amazing tree when it has to endure large periods of drought. Hanging upside down from the high tops of the baobab tree are the elongated fruit pods which look like a cross between a coconut and a large mango. These pods, once cracked open reveal a light coloured powder (or ‘sparkle dust’ as my daughters like to call it). This magical ‘sparkle dust’ is what I’m really here to tell you about.

Baobab Fruit Pod

In Africa, this baobab fruit powder has been used medicinally for centuries to treat everything from fevers to malaria and GI problems to Vitamin C deficiency. With more scientific research, the benefits of the citrusy tasting fruit are becoming more apparent to the western world and its remarkable nutritional values are being highlighted, attributing to its growing popularity.

Baobab has an unusually high level of Vitamin C – almost 10 times more vitamin C than you would find in 1 serving of the common orange. It’s no wonder, baobab fruit powder is considered one of the very best sources of Vitamin C in the world! It has a high dietary fibre content, and has been shown to possess strong Antioxidant properties, which lay the framework for an array of benefits for the skin, and the function and restoration of our other vital organs. Baobab fruit powder surprisingly also contains 6 times more Potassium than Bananas. Along with it’s impressive quantity of Vit C, Antioxidants and Potassium, the baobab fruit boasts a powerhouse of nutritional minerals that are essential for the function of the human body, including Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium and Zinc.

It was also of keen interest to me, when I recently stumbled upon a study in the November 2013 edition of the journal Nutrition Research, which found that baking baobab extract into white bread significantly reduced rapidly digestible starch from the tested white bread samples. This finding, meant that baobab fruit powder was found to significantly reduce the glycemic response, in effect creating lower GI foods out of originally high GI content/starchy ingredients. As one all-too familiar with a diabetic diet, I know that this helps to promote weight loss by reducing appetite and cravings, and by keeping the fat-storing hormone insulin under control.

In terms of taste and aesthetics, this superfruit powder is surprisingly easy to include in a variety of meals and dishes. It has a natural tangy flavour, and just on its own resembles a ‘sherbet’ taste, which my girls just love! It is easily added to any fluid, making it great for smoothies and juices. I often add it to salad dressings and have been baking with it also. The taste is mild enough that it will not overpower your recipes, which makes it such a versatile, and nutritional saviour to almost anything you prepare in the kitchen. Just be careful not to over do it, as the high dietary fibre content might send you to the bathroom if you’re not too careful. I stick to just over a tablespoon for any one dish, which works great on the budget too. It’s nice to know that you don’t need too much to reap the benefits.

All in all, I am in awe of this immaculate display of flora, and thankful that I have learned about it’s benefits. Aside from the remarkable nutritional qualities of their fruit, these trees have been impressively known to grow for thousands of years, and are often referred to as the ‘Ancient trees of Life’. Quite fitting really.

You can find organically sourced Baobab Fruit Powder with my friends at Farafena.com, they do ship internationally, but for those residing outside of North America, don’t worry, I’m working on a little something, that might make it easier for you to get your hands on this magical sparkle dust very soon.

Watch this space – baobab recipes coming soon.

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