When I first saw pictures of the baobab tree, I thought I was looking at an extraterrestrial landscape. About 60 feet tall with fat trunks and at the very top, branches that are bare for nine months of the year, the baobab looks like a regular tree that has been jammed into the ground upside-down with the roots sticking up in the air. The baobab tree is a native of arid regions of Africa, Madagascar, India and Australia and its knack for survival in extreme conditions along with the highly nutritious fruit that it bears have earned it the nickname, “Tree of Life.”
After a year of looking for a U.S. source for baobab, I discovered a new company, Baobab Food, Inc. They generously offered me several bags of their Baobest™ Powder Mixes so I could create some recipes for my next cookbook (coming this fall), and told me about its amazing properties. The fruit looks almost like a velvet-covered yam dangling from the tree. Baobab is wild harvested and the inside of the fruit is dry and fibrous. According to the British Website, Aduna, “Baobab fruit contains fourteen essential vitamins and minerals. It is almost fifty percent fiber and has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any fruit in the world. This gives it an amazing range of benefits, helping with energy, stress, immunity, metabolism and skin health.”
Besides being an excellent source of vitamin C, baobab fruit contains a healthy dose of B vitamins, calcium and potassium. It is a rich source of polyphenals, known to be beneficial in reducing the glycaemic response, which is the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream. This is good news for maintaining consistent blood sugar levels, which helps avoid the highs and lows you feel when you eat too many refined carbs. This super food powder is organic and minimally processed by simply separating it from the seed.
Baobab powder is highly versatile, mixing easily into any number of foods and beverages. It has a mildly tart taste that lends itself to boosting the nutritional value of fruit smoothies, yogurt, salsas, juices, soups, even pancakes, muffins and desserts. Try my recipe for Baobab Butter Squares (see below), which are a twist on traditional lemon squares, but have the added bonus of antioxidants, fiber and vitamins from the baobab fruit.
If you’re looking to purchase baobab powder, Baobest products are available at the Baobab Foods website and at Costco under the Baobest™ brand. Another brand is Bonga Foods, located in Southern California. There are other sources on the internet, many of them in the United Kingdom, that were early to discover the benefits of baobab fruit.
With ten times the antioxidant power of blueberries, pomegranate, goji berries and açai and gram for gram more calcium than milk, baobab is a super food whose time has come.
Baobab Butter Squares
Ingredients for crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Ingredients for filling
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. baobab powder
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. lemon zest
2-4 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a stand mixer, combine the crust ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended.
3. Spread crust into the bottom of an 8-in. square baking pan. Press the crust down evenly in the
center with your fingers, but the let the crust at the edges rise up along the sides of the pan just a bit, almost like a tart shell.
4. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. It won’t be completely cooked yet.
5. Prepare filling by pouring all filling ingredients into a large glass mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to blend well, but don’t whip or overbeat the filling.
6. Pour the filling over the partially baked crust. Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until the filling is set. When you shake the pan, the filling should jiggle and hold, not run like water.
7. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve.
Yields 12 regular squares or 9 large squares
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