THAT TIME OF YEAR IS UPON US AGAIN AND HOLIDAY traditions abound worldwide. Since my Health Sciences/ Research Center/Test Kitchen is located in Ecuador, South America, I thought it would be fun to share with you three of the traditional holiday drinks from Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru — along with some tidbits about native customs. Many of you communicated how you enjoy traveling virtually through my recipes and commentary about my adventures, here’s another take on my recipes acquired from my journeys and research. ENJOY! And don’t be afraid to adapt the recipe to suit your health, religious and social needs.
Colada Morada*—Warming Spiced Fruit Drink This delicacy is usually served with Special Ecuadorian Bread as pictured above.
Translation: *A spiced berry and purple corn flour drink made with fruits and spices.
The “Colada Morada” is an indigenous tradition in Ecuador, specifically the Northern Andean Region where my Health Sciences/Research/Test Kitchens are based. This holiday hot drink is celebrated in families and social gathering as a tradition handed down from generation to generation and has become an Ecuadorian gastronomical delicacy, especially for the thousands of expats who now make Ecuador home. The original recipe contains blueberries, and since they are one of the fruits on the “AVOID” list because they contain those nasty alkaloid chemicals we know ignite an inflammatory condition, I’ve substituted other berries and it’s delicious!
Dr. Gloria’s Adaptation of Colada Morada
Spiced Drink Ingredients
- 1 cup purple or black corn flour**
- 14 oz. orange juice
- 2 cups blackberries (frozen or fresh)
- 2 cups cranberries (frozen or fresh)
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 1 pineapple, peel and core + 2 cups very finely diced
- 5–6 cinnamon sticks
- 4–5 whole cloves
- 4–5 all-spice berries
- 12–14 oz panela (brown sugar or Lakanto™)
- A few lemon verbena leaves, fresh or dry
- A few lemongrass leaves, fresh or dry
- 2–4 pieces orange peel
- 8 + 4 cups water
* In the original Ecuadorian recipe, they use a fruit known as Naranjilla. It’s very tasty but ignites inflammation because it IS a member of the nightshade genre. Therefore, I’ve had to adapt the recipe because we know nightshades, with their inherent chemical Solanaceae, induce inflammation. Naranjilla simply refers to “little orange” because it is round and bright-orange when fully ripe, but it is NOT part of the citrus orange family.
**NOTE: In the U.S. you can find the purple corn flour in Hispanic grocery stores, and you can also find it online at Amazon.com, Amigofoods.com, or Latinmerchant.com. Also, I always found lemon verbena leaves at natural food markets and many ethnic markets. If you cannot use corn then substitute coconut or almond flour.
If you’re in Ecuador you just need to go to the mercado (indigenous farmers’ market) and ask them to give you the atado de hierbas para colada morada y las especias—they should hand you a bushel of herbs and a small bag of spices for just pennies.
Alcoholic Option: Some people add rum or red wine to the mix and heat along with the finished product, just make sure it gets hot but doesn’t boil once you add the alcohol.
- Place the pineapple skins and core, cinnamon, spices and panela or brown sugar in a large pot with 8 cups of water. Boil for about 20–25 minutes.
- Add the lemon verbena, lemongrass, and orange peel.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes—remove and strain.
- In a separate pot, add 4 cups of water with the cranberries and blackberries, boil for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool down until safe to handle, blend and strain.
- Mix the cup of purple corn flour with 1 cup of the spice pineapple liquid until well diluted.
- Add the strained berry mix, the spiced pineapple liquid and the diluted purple flour mix to a large pot.
- Cook over medium heat, stir constantly to keep it from sticking, bring to a boil.
- Add the pineapple chunks and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add the strawberry slices and serve warm or cold.
SERVE HOT, Buen Provecho
Chocolate Santafereño is popular all-around Colombia, especially in Bogotá, the country's capital. Hot chocolate is a staple in almost every Colombian home. In my South American chosen family, we drink this hot chocolate often at breakfast with an arepa (a corn grilled pancake) and cheese and sometimes as a “merienda,” an evening snack with Colombian pastries or bread and cheese. If you would like to make Chocolate Santafereño as they do in Colombia, you’ll need an old-fashioned Colombian kitchen gadget, which you can get at most Latin/ Mexican stores (Molinillo—a Wooden Wisk OR use an electric milk frother).
NOTE: These make unique wall hangings and for great conversation. When you have the opportunity, look for the decorative ones like I’ve pictured below and get several styles! I’ve purchased them in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia but they are not something you find in Ecuador.
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk or milk substitute like Almond or Coconut
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar OR better yet, a natural sweetener like Stevia or Lakanto™, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped, OR high-quality cocoa powder unsweetened
- Cinnamon stick for stirrer
NOTE: Try adding some thinly sliced apples or fruit of choice to rim the cup; a pretty tasty treat!
If you’d like to add some coffee liqueur, it really enhances the flavor but not advised for diabetics or those with Candida.
Heat the milk in a saucepan on medium heat to just below the simmering point, add the chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the sugar and cinnamon.
Whisk vigorously with wooden hand blender or frother. Reheat gently and serve immediately.
Christmas is a special time in South America and Christmas in Peru is a very important holiday. While there is a strong indigenous population, most Peruvians are Roman Catholics. With this large population of Roman Catholics, Christmas is one of the most important times of the year.
One of the things I found most interesting on my recent trip to Peru is the wonderful ethnic mix: Chinese, Europeans, Mexicans, Venezuelans, Japanese, Americans, and many African nationalities, to name a few. An interesting fact I discovered on my treks is that one of the largest deserts in the world is in Peru. Our tour guide teased that since Peru fought a war to take away some of the southern Ecuadorian lands and annex it to Peru, we from Ecuador should not harbor any regrets because the huge desert is the land annexed and not good for much except dune buggies and archeologists!
MATE DE COCA
Famous in the Andes region, this unique drink is an herbal tea made from the leaves of a coca plant. Mate de Coca is used to treat altitude sickness. On your way to Machu Picchu, this tea will help you adapt to the high altitude. However, this tea is controversial in some parts of the world. The leaves contain alkaloids, which when extracted chemically are the source for cocaine. Though the amount of coca alkaloids in the leaves is small, one cup of coca tea can cause a positive result on a cocaine drug test. Controversy aside, it is easy to drink and has a green tea taste whose many medicinal properties have been touted for centuries.
Emoliente is one of the most unique drinks you’ll find. Sold at street corners in Peru by vendors, it is popular in the cold season—locals believe it has healing and medicinal properties. The base is a mix of herbs that usually includes barley, dried horsetail, flax seed, plantain leaf, and alfalfa sprouts. Bottles on the cart contain liquids made from natural plants from the Andes Mountains. The taste is, well, a little bizarre. Imagine drinking a hot, fruity, slimy and semi-sparkly beverage. However, if you’re in Peru and not feeling well and will consider a natural remedy, give this drink a try.
While some celebrations are similar to those in Europe and North America, there are some unique traditions that reflect the nation’s history and make Peru a special place to be during the holidays and one that makes for a great holiday destination.
CHRISTMAS GASTRONOMY IN PERU
Like the corn dough-based tamales on the table, most of the food has the Peruvian gastronomy flare and is a bit spicier with Aji hot sauce available on the side. While adults toast the event with champagne, children drink hot chocolate that has a delicious twist with the addition of cinnamon and cloves much like the tradition in Colombia. For dessert, it is common to eat Paneton, a Peruvian fruit cake.
As my research continues in South America as well as the many centuries-old traditions that we’re learning, my hope for the coming year is to continue to provide my readers and followers a new perspective on those things that bind us all together without any boundaries—music and food!